Pay for Climate Change Damage, Ugandan Minister Tells Rich Countries


New Vision, Uganda, East Africa


The Water and Environment Minister Prof Ephraim Kamuntu has told a meeting of African environment ministers at the ongoing global conference on climate change in Paris, France that African delegates are not in Paris to beg but to demand for what their countries deserve.

He was referring to the principle of 'polluter pays' which requires that the price of pollution be borne by those that cause it. Developing countries want historic carbon emitters to take responsibility for what they have caused by paying for loss and damages as a result of climate change. Climate change is attributed mostly to high carbon emissions, most of which are emitted by developed nations.  

China is the world's largest carbon emitter, followed by United States and European Union respectively. Some of the loss and damage caused by climate change include droughts, floods and destructive hailstorms among several others.

"We are not beggars. The financial obligation we are asking is not charity. It is climate debt," Prof. Kamuntu noted.  

He was speaking during a side event organized by multilateral development banks (MDBs) at the ongoing climate change conference in Paris.

The 48 nations that make up the Least Developed Countries want up to US $93 billion annually to implement their post-2020 climate action plans meant to cut carbon emissions through Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)

Several developing countries at the ongoing conference, Uganda inclusive, want a detailed section on losses and damages to be included in the binding agreement on climate change now under negotiation in Paris.

They insist that such payments should be separated from the assistance that wealthy countries are currently giving developing countries for adapting to the effects of climate change.

Speaking during the same occasion, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank insisted that polluters should take the responsibility of cleaning up the mess.

"Those who pollute more should do more to save our planet," he said.

Akinwumi's strong remarks were echoed by the Malawian minister of natural Resources, energy and mining Bright Msaka who insisted that the outcomes of climate change negotiations in Paris must be legally binding.

"We want a climate agreement that will obligate all of us to do our part. We are all on this one planet hence we cannot allow one country to spoil it for us," he said.

Addressing the ministers, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lamented the negative effects of climate change on economies of countries most especially those in Africa.

"Africa is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Much of its economy depends on a climate-sensitive natural resource base, including rain-fed subsistence agriculture." Ki-moon said.  

The meeting was attended by close to 50 environment ministers from Africa. During the meeting, the ministers received updates from the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) on the on-going negotiations.

If a new international climate change agreement is reached in Paris at the end of this week, countries will start implementing it from 2020.