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Climate Change Conference - protests

Africans slam Zenawi-Sarkozy appeal

Article published on the 2009-12-16 Latest update 2009-12-16 15:29 TU

A police officer inspects belongings of two men dressed as  Father Christmas during the United Nations Climate Change Conference on Wednesday(Photo: Reuters)

A police officer inspects belongings of two men dressed as Father Christmas during the United Nations Climate Change Conference on Wednesday
(Photo: Reuters)

African NGOs at the Copenhagen Climate Conference on Wednesday accused Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is selling out Africa after he backed a joint statement with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance say that Zenawi, whom African countries named their "chief negotiator" at Copenhagen, is "undermining" his fellow negotiators and endangering Africa's future.

They are furious that the joint statement called for a global warming limit a 2°C above pre-industrial levels - compared to the 1.5°C that poorer countries earlier said was the highest figure they were prepared to accept.

A 2°C rise would mean a 3.5°C rise for the African continent, the campaigners claim, "threatening the lives of hundreds of millions of people, including the Ethiopian people".

And they point out that promises of aid to vulnerable countries at the moment seem to be no higher than ten billion dollars (seven billion euros) over three years, starting in 2010, which they consider a derisory sum.

Meanwhile Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt declared Wednesday that he is unsure that the conference will even agree the 2°C target. Reinfeldt was speaking at the European parliament in Brussels, before travelling to Copenhagen where he will represent the European Union along with Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso.

In what officials are describing as a protocol formality, the Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen is taking over as chairman of the climate tlalks, replacing Coni Hedegaard who will lead informal talks. 

Danish police on Wednesday fired tear gas and arrested more than 100 activists, who were among 1,500 who tried to march on the Copenhagen conference centre.

The protesters accuse the politicians from 194 countries of preparing an inadequate response to global warming. 

NGOs are also angry that thousands of their members have been refused entry to the Bella Conference Center, despite having badges.

Organisers have accepted the blame for the problem, saying that 46,000 people want to attend but that the centre has only a 15,000 capacity. The NGOs say the politicians do not want to hear their voices.




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