African civil society has reacted with outrage over remarks made by Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, at the Conference of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change.

“Africa sings with one voice in the negotiations”, said Mithika Mwenda, the Coordinator of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, “But unfortunately, Prime Minister Zenawi is again out of tune”.

Recalling the major upset at the 2009 UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen when he abandoned the agreed African position to issue a joint statement with French President Sarkozy, Mr. Mwenda criticized the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s statement in Addis Ababa and said that it was issued without prior consultation with the African Group, which is formally tasked with agreeing Africa’s position on climate change.

There was dramatic episodes in COP15 when Zenawi made the appeal for financing of only Euro 100 billion by 2020 as part of a “Copenhagen Accord”, significantly below the agreed African demand for financing equivalent to 5% of Annex I GNP to address the climate crisis (around US$2 trillion). A day later, during his speech to the Conference, Mr. Zenawi lowered his demand further by calling for $30 billion in short-term financing and only $100 billion

(i.e. around Euro 70 billion) by 2020, coinciding with a similar statement by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Zenawi demands were in stark contrast to the position he was charged with defending, and with his dramatic pre-Conference statement saying “If needs be we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threaten to be another rape of our continent.” 1

And during the meeting for Conference of Heads of States and Governments on climate change he hosted at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, he continued with his contradictory statements when he said that Africa would derail efforts to craft a binding climate change treaty unless the US$30 billion promised at the climate talks in Copenhagen, according to news sources.2

[The developed countries pledged to provide $30 billion in financing during the period 2010 to 2012 under the controversial Copenhagen Accord, which was agreed in an exclusive process that excluded most of the countries attending the UN Copenhagen meeting.]

According to Augustine Njamnishi, the Executive Secretary of Bioresources Conservation and Development Programme based in Cameroon, who is also the PACJA Representative in Central Africa, Africa’s agreed demand is for $400 billion not $30 billion in short term financing”; “It is unfortunate that Mr.



Zenawi continues to emphasize financing that is patently inadequate to address the needs of Africa and other developing countries”.

Economic Justice Network, a think tank allied to the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in Southern Africa, also added their voice to the latest twist in Zenawi Zenawi’s questionable outbursts.“We need the rich countries to honor their promise of $30 billion – but polluters honor the Africa groups demand of $400 billion in short term financing and pay the full bill for cleaning up their mess”, Percy Makombe, the organization’s programme Manager in charge of Economic Justice Said. “In the same week the international community committed over a trillion Euros to stabilize the Greek economy, it is a tragedy that Mr. Zenawi continues to demand financing that is hopelessly inadequate to stabilize the climate and save Africa”, Mr. Makombe continued.

Sources who attended the meeting, but who declined to be named as they are not authorized to speak on behalf of CAHOSOCC intimated that Mr. Zenawi also called for funds to be provided through the African Development Bank. This is directly at odds with the agreed African position, which is to ensure financing is provided under the UN, and not donor driven financial institutions. “Mr. Zenawi’ demand is also inconsistent with the position agreed by developing countries within the G77 and China”, said Robert Chimambo, Zambia’s civil society network on climate change, who noted that the direction the Ethiopian Prime Minister is taking will weaken the continent’s demand for equity and fairness in the ongoing dialogue process.

speculation has occurred about what caused Mr. Zenawi to offer proposals that depart from the agreed African position he was tasked to defend, that are inconsistent with the collective demands of the G77 and China of which Ethiopia is a member, that have no identifiable scientific or economic rationale, that were not cleared with other African governments, and that are inadequate to address the needs of Africa and other developing countries.

At the time of the Copenhagen conference, US-based newspapers reported that Mr. Zenawi held a teleconference with President Barrack Obama on 14 December, a day before he met with Mr. Sarkozy in Paris.3, though the horn of African Nation, who is co-Chairing the High-level Panel on climate finance with former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has never disclosed the subject matter of the call.

The Economist magazine later reported “America is to disburse $1 billion in state aid to Ethiopia this year, more if covert stuff is included. Ethiopia can expect a similar amount from the European Union, multilaterally and through bilateral arrangements with Britain and others. And climate-change deals may bring Mr Zenawi even more cash.”4

Information publicly available from the UK government confirms that support by the UK government has increased during 2007 to 2009 by over 80%.5

“The role of Mr. Zenawi in the climate negotiations is clear – he represents Mr. Zenawi” said Mr. Mwenda. “Given what’s at stake for all people and countries on our continent, Africa needs to rethink its representation.”

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PDF – Outrage over Meles Zenawi’s statement(2).