European and African MPs Form Common Front: Africa Will Suffer the Worst Impact of Climate Change Although It Has Done the Least to Cause It. the Question Is Who Will Pay the Mitigation Costs? This and Other Critical Issues Were Discussed in a Groundbreaking Forum Held in Nairobi and Involving European and African Legislators. Anver Versi Reports

By Versi, Anver | African Business, October 2008 | Go to article overview

European and African MPs Form Common Front: Africa Will Suffer the Worst Impact of Climate Change Although It Has Done the Least to Cause It. the Question Is Who Will Pay the Mitigation Costs? This and Other Critical Issues Were Discussed in a Groundbreaking Forum Held in Nairobi and Involving European and African Legislators. Anver Versi Reports


Versi, Anver, African Business


While the EU Trade Minister Peter Mandelson was busy trying to strangle African trade with Europe though the notorious Partnership Agreements, it was encouraging to see another set of Europeans, members of Parliament, forming alliances with their counterparts in Africa to achieve exactly the opposite ends.

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The Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa (Awepa), in conjunction with the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), the Pan-African Parliament and the Kenya Parliament had organised one of the most critical forums for legislators from the two continents.

The meeting was simply titled Parliamentary Forum on Sustainable Development and Aid Effectiveness but the blandness of the headline belied the import of the wide-ranging discussions. These focused on the looming threat of climate change on Africa and a no-holds-barred discussion on whether aid from Western nations is of any benefit to Africa.

African MPs and government ministers from Kenya also wanted their European counterparts to clearly understand that most countries in Africa are very unhappy with the type of deal that Peter Mandelson is trying to broker between the continent and the EU.

Swedish MPs formed the bulk of the delegation from Europe although there were representatives from Germany (Patrick Meinhardt), Britain (Tony Worthington), Eire (Brendan Howlin, deputy-speaker of the Irish parliament) and Japan (Asahiko Mihara).

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Dr Jan Nico Scholten, president of Awepa came immediately to the point: "Climate change is an invisible monster with an enormous impact on all of mankind, especially on the poor regions suffer the most, especially Africa."

He then outlined the mission of the forum: "As a result of this forum, concrete recommendations for Parliamentary action in Africa and Europe will be formulated, related to Copenhagen 2009, the Global Summit on Climate." This is expected to be the biggest conference on climate change and its impact on the world ever held. It is therefore essential that Africa prepares its policies and presents them powerfully at the summit.

Welcoming the delegates, Kenneth Marende, Speaker of the Kenya National Assembly, quoted the US anthropologist Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has".

He went on to add: "There is ample evidence to show that climate change has been triggered by careless, harmful extractive action and the mentality of human folk since the advent of industrialisation.

"It offers Africa little or no comfort when sufficient doses of such evidence point an accusing finger at Western industrial states, India and China as the principal sources of pollution."

Simon Anderson, principal researcher Climate Group IIED, painted a horrifying scenario in which droughts would follow floods -rivers, lakes and other sources of water would dry up and coastal settlements would drown. The worst-affected region, he said, would be Africa, although it had contributed the least to causing climate change. This theme would be revisited time and again by African MPs who asked, rightly, why Africa should be made to pay for the greed of others. Anderson made it clear that even if all pollution and carbon emissions were to stop today, the negative effects, which have been building up, would continue to haunt the world. The only feasible position to take was one of mitigation.

Several African MPs wanted to know who would bear the cost of mitigation, which might involve life-style changes and the movement of large numbers of people?

Whom does aid help?

The magnificent trees flanking beautiful greens of the Windsor Golf Club and Country Hotel were a poignant reminder of the mighty forests that once covered vast areas of Kenya but now exist only in faded photographs. …

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European and African MPs Form Common Front: Africa Will Suffer the Worst Impact of Climate Change Although It Has Done the Least to Cause It. the Question Is Who Will Pay the Mitigation Costs? This and Other Critical Issues Were Discussed in a Groundbreaking Forum Held in Nairobi and Involving European and African Legislators. Anver Versi Reports
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