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World Not Close to Climate Change Deal – UNEP Director 

By David Akana in Nairobi*

Barely a few months to the key UN Summit on climate change due to hold in the Danish Capital – Copenhagen, a top UN official, Director General of the United Nations Environment Programme, Achim Steiner has said that "the world is not close to a climate change deal" – thereby sparking worries among advocates of a climate change deal around the World and particularly in Africa.

Speaking during the opening session of the 2nd World Congress of Agro-forestry, Monday, August 23 in Niarobi, Kenya, Achim Steiner said that there are many reasons to be troubled with the state and pace of the current negotiations. Pressed to explain why he thought the world was not close to a deal on climate change, Achim Steiner stated that he was barely quoting the members states of the United Nations who met recently in Bonn, German. "I think that between now and December, everything is possible but on the pace and scale of the negotiations at the moment, I think that one would be naïve not to be concerned," remarked Steiner.

According to the Director General of UNEP, there are two variables that would determine the success of the December 2009 Copenhagen summit – one is emission reduction by industrialised nations, thereby enabling developing countries to gain confidence in the international process of emission control and secondly, the financial support that should underpin a global partnership on climate change.

But, according to the UNEP boss, the amounts of financing for such partnership currently being discussed are simply not credible. Such lack of financial support, according to Achim Steiner, are particularly true for the continent of Africa suffering most from the effects of climate change and yet having the least means to adapt to its effects.

On how African countries would adapt to the effects of climate change, Steiner said that there are not theoretical concepts but rather an urgent set of steps that are set to be taken but he questioned where the financial support will come from. "Where is the financial support?" he asked.

Achim Steiner further noted that even if an agreement is reached in Copenhagen, he wondered what will happen between 2009 and 2016 when the first fruits of that financial support will flow. For these reasons, Achim Steiner declared, "I think the world has an urgent homework to do between now and December on addressing particularly the issue of adaptation."

The 2009 Conference of the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change holds in December 2009 in Copenhagen and the world expects major stakeholders to reach an agreement whereby severe commitments would be taken to cut down emission of greenhouses gases into the atmosphere.

David AKANA is a 2009 fellow of the Climate Change Media Partnership (CCMP)

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