187 Countries Endorse Climate Change Pact

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WINDHOEK

After prolonged deliberations, the Uni-ted Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali on Saturday agreed to launch negotiations towards a crucial and strengthened international climate change deal.

The agreement was signed by 187 countries and includes a clear agenda for key issues to be negotiated up to 2009.

These include action for adapting to the negative consequences of climate change like droughts and floods, along with ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ways to widely deploy climate-friendly technologies and financing both adaptation and mitigation measures.

Negotiations are expected to be concluded in 2009, which will ensure that the new deal can be entered into by 2013 after the expiry of the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol.

“This is a real breakthrough, a real opportunity for the international community to successfully fight climate change,” said Indonesian Environment Minister and president of the conference, Rachmat Witoeler.

The UN Inter-governmental panel on climate change earlier in the year warned that if left unchecked, the world’s average temperature could rise as much as six degrees centigrade by the end of the century. This would spell disaster for economies, societies and ecosystems across the globe.

Speaking at the conference last week, Namibian Minister of Environment and Tourism, Willem Konjore, said Namibia’s agricultural sector, its ability to provide water and its coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

He said up to 30 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is directly reliant on the environment and ecosystem services.
“In fact, Namibia is predicted to face an absolute water shortage by 2020. The rising sea levels could submerge some of our coastal areas and affect our fishery and marine industry,” warned Konjore.

He cautioned that Namibia could lose between one and six percent of its GDP over the next 20 years due to the impact of climate change on the country’s natural resources.

Commenting on the agreement, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) said: “We now have a roadmap, we have an agenda and we have a deadline. But we also have a huge task ahead of us and time to reach agreement is extremely short, so we need to move quickly.”

Also the new agreement will only come into effect in 2013, and countries have agreed to take a number of immediate steps to mitigate the global threat. This is of particular importance to developing nations.

It includes funding for adaptation projects in developing countries, which is financed by the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism (CDM). This will be done under the management of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), ensuring that the funding will be operational during 2009 to 2012.

This fund is anticipated to increase from 37 million euros to US$80 million and then US$300 million.

Governments have further agreed to kick-start strategic programmes to scale up the level of investment for the transfer of both the mitigation and adaptation technologies that developing countries need.

The reduction of emissions from deforestation in developing countries was another key issue at the Bali conference.

This programme will focus on assessments of changes in forest cover and associated green house gas emissions, methods to demonstrate reductions of emissions from deforestation and the estimation of the amount of emission reductions from deforestation.

Parties have further agreed on small-scale afforestation, or reforestation, activities to 16 kilotonnes of CO2 per year.

For the first time, parties have also considered the possible inclusion of carbon capture and storage in geological formations. – Own Reporter-Wire Agencies

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