And so he challenged the 6,000 delegates the world over, to “come up with common strategies for countries to control pollution, and eliminate activities that lead to the global warming”.
Looking specifically at Africa, Mr. Steiner affirmed that the conference of Nairobi should empower the “African countries to monitor weather changes so that they can put in place effective responses to prevent environmental destruction. Although the least contributors to climate chaos, Africa is also the least prepared and least beneficiary of the mechanisms against adverse weather patterns”.
What can one say at the end of the Conference? The most common comment we could hear from the speakers and delegates was: “Hardly anybody denied the facts of scientific studies, the terrible consequences for the world and especially Africa if drastic changes are not accepted and implemented by all countries: but the actions approved are far from correcting the present trends, and the cataclysmic effects will continue in the world and in Africa, albeit with a slowing down “.
BAD NEWS FOR AFRICA
All the delegates from Africa, and many also from outside the continent, have depicted apocalyptic scenarios for the future. And most of the speakers have based their interventions on their own experience, substantiated from a study by the name Up in smoke 2, conducted by all independent agencies and scientific research centers of England. In their interventions these delegates have stated: “Climate change is an unprecedented threat to food security”; “climate change is already having a destructive impact on people across Africa, and it is already eroding the gains made in the war on poverty and self reliance”; “the drought is getting much worse in the arid areas, and the unpredictability of weather changes is growing”; “It is true that climates across Africa have always been unpredictable, but now they have reached the extreme of unpredictability, and that makes subsistence farming almost impossible”; “in the last century the continent as a whole is 0.5 degree centigrade warmer, but Kenya alone is 3.5 degree wormer in the last 25 years: as a consequence the lake of Nakuru is already dry, people can walk through and the 800.000 flamingos which had found their home in it, have all but a few left”: “in the next 25 years Mt. Kenya will have lost its snows and all the rivers which originate from it and make agriculture possible around it, will be dry”.; the farmers complain that “ they are no longer sure of the rains, and they often lose their crops either because of heavy rains, or none at all” The litany of evils already affecting Africa, or forecasted for the near future, continues with a crescendo that would scare even the most optimistic people.
GOOD NEWS FROM THE CONFERENCE?
By listening to the delegates of the poor countries of the world, the Conference has been marked with “intense power plays of the rich countries, especially the U. S. A.”. This country has always been against any cut in the emissions, and in the past the EU stood up against it. But then the EU also joined the policies of the USA, and the Kyoto Protocol, which tried to put a ceiling on the quantity of gas emissions in the air, has been practically ignored and gone, and some of the richer countries have not even signed it. It is my impression that most of the delegates outside of the Western Countries would agree on a comment made by the Kenyan journalist Kenneth Rogoff that “On environment, Americans got it wrong. America’s unwillingness to take the lead on environmental issues may some day be regarded as on the country’s most profound political failure”. Even England, the closest friend of America, “urged the US to join other countries in fighting the adverse effects of climate change, by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol”.
In the Nairobi Summit, many proposals have been advanced, like taxing the countries which emit more gas than permitted, giving more money to the poor countries to perfect their means of checking weather patterns and warning the citizens of impending calamities; discussing the Kyoto Protocol and making changes at the conference itself. One of the most practical means tried in the Kajado District of Kenya, is the harvesting of rain water for the needs of people, of animals and of the agriculture. Ms. Agnes Mosoni Loirket who initiated this program, made a presentation to the delegates which were spell-bound. She concluded by saying: “The harvesting of rain water not only helped to end the water problem, with all the fighting and killing which go with it, but also boosted our income”. Another hot issue was that of storing gases. The rich and oil nations proposed to develop a Carbon Capture Technology for storing dangerous green house gases under the ocean in areas that should be geologically stable, especially around Africa. But the Kenyan Delegate, Prof George Krhoda suggested that “we need to move with caution as it can cause environment disasters and reverse gains made, if not handled carefully”. A serious debate developed on this issue, but the proposal was tabled until May 2007, at the next conference in Germany.
The Churches let their voice be heard with a talk by Prof. Jesse Mugambi of the World Council of Churches. He called “for action to stop the suffering of the poor and vulnerable, due to climate changes” He invited the world’s representatives to “address the reality of climate change with the extreme urgency it demands”, and warned them that “the world they represent, is rapidly approaching the point of climate interference with the climate system”. The Vatican has a seat in the UN and all its Conferences, but no right of vote!
Mr. Kofi Annan warned that “the few sceptics who continue to sow doubts (about the seriousness of the issue) should be seen for what they are: out of step, out of arguments and just about out of time”. In his concluding remarks, Prof. Kivutha Kibwuana, the President of the Nairobi Conference, declared that the talks have been successful. “The conference has achieved its objective… One of the landmark decisions was the progress on Adaptation Fund. The poorer countries will have more say in terms of voting for the fund, more than the developed countries … The countries that needed the funds more, would have more say”. Another important step taken at the conference, according to Dr. Kibwuana, “was the agreement on the management of the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol, which could be worth €300 million. This Fund is designated to support concrete adaptations activities in developing countries.
Most of the UN delegates, the members of NGO’s, and even of the Churches, seem to be in agreement on the worth of the Conference, on the validity of the facts and studies presented, on the fact that the poor countries will have more say in the distribution of the funds, the number of opponents to the idea of controlling gas is almost nil. And yet the real global consequences of the warming of the atmosphere have not received an adequate answer by the Conference, and the world is not safer after the Nairobi Summit.