This post was first published on the CAN International Voices blog.
We are now in Panama, for the intersessional which is the last meeting before the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Durban. The 17th COP will be in Durban, South Africa, which make this a very important COP for Africa. Africa along with Least Developed Countries and the Small Island States are the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. Even though Ethiopia is one of the least developed countries that is showing a rapid economic growth, it is still being affected by drought.
At the moment the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia, is confronted with recurring climate change related disasters, in particular prolonged droughts and floods. This drought is said to be the worst in 60 years. Drought is not something new for Ethiopia nor the Horn. However, it has become more recurrent and severe in the last decades. Climate change is making the matters and problems worse for us who are under-developed.
In order to address the impacts of climate change, countries are negotiating under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In its 15th and 16th meetings an agreement was reached that developed countries will be supporting adaptation and mitigation actions of developing countries. We are now approaching the end of 2011, where the fast start finance of $30 billion for the years 2010-2012 is about to end. The other decision we have is the one on long-term finance to mobilize $100 billion by 2020. So far there are no pledges from the developed countries for the year 2013 and onwards. That is a worry for us coming from the developing world. We have learned some lessons from the fast start finance, which is not new and not additional to the ODA, but is just relabeled as climate finance, given in the form of loans instead of grants. There is an imbalance between adaptation and mitigation with more money going to mitigation actions instead of adaptation.
Forty member countries of the transitional committee are designing the Green Climate Fund (GCF) of whose works will be presented in Durban to be approved by the Conference of Parties (COP). However, most developed countries do not want to have any form of discussion on long-term finance which is supposed to fill this fund. With all of these climate related disasters happening in most parts of the world, especially developing countries being the most vulnerable and having no capacity to adapt, adaptation finance is very crucial for us. It is a matter of survival and should be taken seriously by others. Developed countries need to get more serious and commit themselves to discuss the sources of finance that will feed into the new fund. If we want an outcome in Durban, most discussions and texts need to happen here in Panama.
It is good to note that, developing countries at the local and national level are also working to raise funds for their adaptation and mitigation actions. In my organization back home, Forum for Environment-Ethiopia, we have started an initiative to raise funds, which can be used for some local adaptation actions. We have started implementing the green tax initiative in which 1% of our salaries are deducted every month. We have done this for the past year and have raised small amount, which has not been used yet. Now we want this to be taken up by other organizations at the country-level to show our commitments by raising more money and taking local initiatives. We have started the process of engaging others to hopefully have a larger impact. Progress in Panama in all issues, especially finance, is very important for us to achieve something in the African COP in Durban.