7th ADF High Level Leadership Dialogue-Kaberuka, Meles, Stoltenberg, Mogae and Ping on Climate Change

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Recalling memories of the devastating impact of climate change on the economies of African countries, African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Donald Kaberuka, said climate change ought to be the defining factor of true leadership and good governance, globally.

Mr. Kaberuka made the remark during a debate by a panel of eminent personalities on 13 October 2010 at the Ongoing Seventh African Development Forum, convened in Addis Ababa to discuss issues related to governance and leadership response to Climate Change.

Participating in the dialogue also were Prime Ministers Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Jens Stoltenberg of Norway; Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana; and Jean Ping, chairperson of the African Union Commission.

The AfDB President underscored the importance of establishing the Africa Green Fund, which, he said would help to keep things going at a proper pace. The energy sector has suffered from chronic underinvestment, keeping the continent’s energy poor, although it has the ability to generate clean energy. “There is not enough power to power economies,” he added.

Supporting this view, Prime Minister Meles said that he saw leadership in climate change in two contexts: what African leaders do in Africa irrespective of what happened elsewhere in the world and how African leaders interacted with the rest of the world.

From the discussions, it became clear that an African perspective has often been lacking during international negotiations, especially as it relates to the principle of climate justice in the context of a new approach to development that encompasses the concepts of green development and green economy.

“We have made progress in climate change,” Meles said. “We have shown that it is challenging but feasible to raise 100 billion dollars per annum for climate action.”

But that money could not be raised without setting proper price for carbon. “For example the Europeans have to double the price of carbon that they currently charge,” he added.

Mr. Meles deplored what he called the inability of leaders to take risks in the interest of the environment and the little work that has been done to educate the public of the developed world. “The developed world has to have a scientific outlook. if they put their heart to it, they can do it,” he emphasized.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister praised the United Kingdom and Norway for their exemplary actions and better informed societies; the former because the government excluded development assistance from its massive budget cut, and the latter for committing itself to carbon neutral development despite being a hydrocarbon producer.

For his part, Prime Minister Stoltenberg reinforced the idea that Africa should not be left alone to deal with the consequences of climate change, which it did not cause but from which it is suffering more.

But he also said that there was no way the USD 100 billion, which is almost equal to the USD 124 billion currently given as official development assistance (ODA), could be raised without innovative financing mechanisms.

He saw carbon pricing as a promising source of financing, and expressed optimism that COP 16, scheduled to take place in Cancun, Mexico, next month, would achieve some results regarding forests – the “the fastest, cheapest, and most effective” in capturing carbon.

“Climate change affects livelihoods of millions. It affects economic development and our ability to meet the MDGs.. You cannot choose between environment and development,” he said.

The panel agreed that public awareness is needed in the developed countries for their people to understand why it is in the interest of their governments to spend their taxes on climate impacts in Africa.

Mr. Kaberuka added that many Africans find it hard to accept that they have to resort to their meagre resources to tackle a problem they have not caused, adding that providing climate financing would be in the interest of the rich countries, as well.

Moderated by Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the panel concluded that it could be helpful to invite European leaders to their meetings, as it would enhance European understanding of African positions and thinking on various development issues.

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