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Zimbabwe: President Raps West's Carbon
Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2009

By Caesar Zvayi
December 17, 2009 - The Herald

PRESIDENT Mugabe has castigated Western nations' double standards over climate change saying the developed world was not approaching the peril of global warming with the same zeal it devotes to issues of human rights in the developing world.

The President, who was addressing 119 heads of state and government and other stakeholders gathered here for the ongoing UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference, spoke as the negotiations teetered on the brink of collapse with clear battle lines drawn between the developed and developing world.

The major bone of contention that has emerged is the nature and structure of the future global climate change mitigation regime.

Developed world countries, especially Japan and Europe, are insisting that a new agreement be established to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Almost all members of the UNFCCC are members of the Kyoto Protocol, with the United States a notable exception.

Since the US does not want to join or be bound by the Kyoto Protocol, its developed world allies now no longer want to be bound by it and, instead, want to set a new treaty that not only includes the US, but sets new obligations on the developing world to act on its emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol does not bind the developing world to commit to emissions reduction.

This proposal has been shot down by developing countries, since the new treaty will most likely not place strict and legally-binding commitments on the developed countries to cut their emissions, unlike the Kyoto Protocol.

"Why is the guilty North not showing the same fundamentalist spirit it exhibits in our developing countries on human rights matters on this more menacing question of climate change? Where is its commitment to retributive justice, which we see it applying on other issues placed on the global agenda? Where are the sanctions for offenders? When we spit at the Kyoto Protocol by seeking to retreat from its dictates, or simply refusing to accede to it, are we not undermining the rule of global law?" President Mugabe asked to wild applause from activists who had picketed the lobby.

Some of them had earlier invaded the plenary demanding unity of purpose from the leaders.

"When we spew hazardous emissions for selfish, consumptionist ends, in the process threatening land masses and atmospheric space of smaller and weaker nations, are we not guilty of gross human rights violations?

"We raise these questions not out of spite or vindictiveness, but out of concern for our very endangered livelihoods," he said.

Climate change is manifest in protracted droughts, floods and erratic rains in Zimbabwe and other parts of the developing world, where the extreme weather conditions have not only displaced people, but severely undermined livelihoods.

To this end, the President said, the West's indifference was bound to see the developing world failing to attain the UN-set Millennium Development Goals by the target year of 2015.

"When these capitalist gods of carbon burp and belch their dangerous emissions, it is we, the lesser mortals of the developing sphere who gasp, sink and eventually die . . .

"The prospects of meeting our MDGs, or other welfare targets agreed to nationally, regionally or internationally, grow dimmer every day. We are the drowning, we are the burning, indeed we are the tragedy that climate changes have turned out to be for the larger half of mankind. Yet we never caused this crisis."

Zimbabwe, the President said, continued to suffer from illegal economic sanctions imposed by some Western countries, which sanctions had even extended to issues of the environment and climate change mitigation.

"Zimbabwe continues to suffer from illegal sanctions unilaterally imposed on her by the West. Because of these undeserved sanctions, we have only been able to draw a mere one million United States dollars in the last three years from the Global Environmental Fund. The situation is likely to grow worse in the wake of new changes to the operationalisation of this fund."

The developing world, the President said, had convened in Copenhagen hoping for justice and fairness, but had been met with hypocrisy from the instigators of the crisis - the developed world.

"Beneath the tip of well-intentioned rhetoric on climate change lies the iceberg of power and aspirations to global dominance. We are dealing with vested interests. We are dealing with dominant economies resting on a faulty, eco-unfriendly development paradigm, aspiring to misrule the world. In those circumstances, progress is bound to be glacial.

"Climate change, the latest and by far the most encompassing and insistent crisis spawned by this hegemonic development paradigm, yet again reveals the interconnectedness of issues of global imbalances: by way of uneven development, by way of unfair trade, by way of unclean politics, by way of hegemonic values, by way of arbitrary power and governance systems."

The President said Zimbabwe and Africa stood by the Kyoto Protocol and urged the Western nations to be bound by the same.

"It has simply become imperative that the developed world, itself the leading sinner on climate offences, takes serious and effective measures to cut emissions on one hand, while supporting developing countries to adapt to, and mitigate the effects of this man-made made planetary if not cosmic disaster."

He reminded delegates that the developing world, apart from being the least offender on climate crimes, owns the bio-carbon resources, required to clean up the mess of global warming, and by dint of that deserved the lion's share of climate change mitigation funds.

"The present global regime where resources are disproportionately allocated in terms of the degree to which a country endangers the climate is a skewed one. We cannot reward sinners. We cannot punish the righteous. We who bear the burden of healing the gasping earth must draw the most from the global purse for remedial action."

The developing world, the President said, would never accept climatic recovery paradigms predicated on denying it the right to development for the sake of cleaning up the mess created by the selfish North.

Earlier, Environment and Natural Resources Management Minister Francis Nhema told Zimbabwean journalists on the sidelines of the summit that a figure of US$10 billion was being bandied around as climate mitigation fund, with Africa set to receive 40 percent. However, the developing world felt the figure was minimal and was instead pressing for US$200 billion.

The conference enters its tenth day today.

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