The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Michael Stulman (202) 546-7961

US Drags its Feet at United Nations Conference

Africa Action Opposes World Bank Climate Financing


According to an issue paper released by Africa Action today, the causes
of climate change are obvious, and the effects are overwhelming. While
Africa only emits 4 percent of the world's carbon emissions, the
continent is suffering from shrunken lakes, deforestation, and eroded
coastlines. A UN report states that a 2 degree Celsius rise in
temperature would endanger the water supply of up to 600 million
Africans. In sub-Saharan Africa there are roughly 800 million people.

"This is a great illustration of global apartheid. Africans emit the
lowest levels of carbon emissions, but are most greatly affected by
climate change due to the lack of affordable prevention methods," said
Gerald LeMelle, Executive Director of Africa Action. "It is time that
developed countries share the burden of climate change and work
together to create a new cooperative approach."

This week the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) was convened in Poznan, Poland. Delegates from nearly every
nation around the world participated in discussions that focused on
mitigating the disproportionate effects of climate change on developing
countries. These discussions were supposed to set the framework for a
revised global agreement on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark in

Unfortunately, it was difficult to agree on much of anything, even
given the enormous and devastating effect that climate change has had
around the world, predominantly in developing countries.

During the conference the participants were often at odds. The
"Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation" (REDD) text was
first supported by the European Union and other countries such as
Bolivia, Norway, Mexico, and Switzerland. Then, according to Friends of
the Earth, countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and
New Zealand strictly opposed any language that would recognize the
rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. The final text
acknowledged only the value of indigenous peoples' "participation."

"This was a lost opportunity for millions of people in developing
countries who suffer the brunt of climate change. The UNFCCC conference
reflects a failure in leadership from many developed countries," said
Michael Stulman, Associate Director of Policy and Communications. "If
President Elect Obama says we live in 'a planet in peril' then the U.S.
Government will have to commit to long-term solutions that address both
environmental problems and the global economy at the same time."

Other recommendations to confront the climate crisis came from the
Japanese Trade Negotiator, which suggested taking three baths a day
rather than seven.

Taking a much larger and mistaken approach to climate change was the
World Bank. During the UNFCCC conference, the World Bank positioned
itself to take control of the climate crisis by managing the Climate
Investment Funds. This would be a mechanism for developing countries to
receive loans that could be invested in climate adaptation and
mitigation in Africa and the Global South.

"Grants, not loans, should be directly given to developing countries.
Poor countries should not have to pay for dealing with the problem that
has been caused by the world's wealthiest countries," said Gerald
LeMelle, Executive Director of Africa Action. "Grants need to be
designed with local participation channeled through the UNFCC or
another truly multilateral decision-making body."

On Tuesday, 142 nongovernmental organizations released a joint
statement that was critical of this position. It exposes the hypocrisy
of an institution that invests in polluting- industries assuming
responsibility for climate change. In recent years, World Bank
investments in oil, coal and gas has greatly increased, not decreased.

Read the most recent analysis on climate change and Africa at:

Africa Action is a national organization that works for political, economic and social justice in Africa. Through the provision of accessible information and analysis combined with the mobilization of public pressure we work to change the policies and policy-making processes of U.S. and multinational institutions toward Africa. The work of Africa Action is grounded in the history and purpose of its predecessor organizations, the American Committee on Africa (ACOA), The Africa Fund, and the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), which have fought for freedom and justice in Africa since 1953. Continuing this tradition, Africa Action seeks to re-shape U.S. policy toward African countries.