Ethiopia embarks on a national petition collection program ahead of crucial climate summit

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Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, is to embark on a public information collection program which will see the gathering of petitions from its various regional states on the challenges and possible solutions of climate change. Collected data will serve as an additional input for African climate mouthpiece Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, at the Copenhagen Climate Summit at the end of the year.

The two month petition collection program is scheduled to take place between September 29 and November 28 in Oromia, Amhara, Tigray and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples (SNNPR) regional states of the country where warning signs of the climate change have been observed. An estimated number of 5.3 million people adversely affected by harsh drought conditions reside in the Oromia and SNNPR regional states, and the remaining inthe Somali, Amhara and Tigray regional States.

Speaking on behalf of the organizers, Abera Deresa state minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry, indicated that a similar program will also take place in other African countries so as to enable Africa speak with one voice. Regional administration heads, pastoralists, farmers, governmental and non-governmental organizations and prominent figures are expected to take part in the petition, according to one of the organizers.

African ministers and European partners were in Addis Ababa on September 3, 2009, to consolidate Africa’s position while demanding a cause and effect link to be recognised at the next global climate summit. The meeting approved Africa’s common position agreement and expects a huge financial support, estimated at US$300 billion, and technology transfer from the West for mitigation and adaptation activities to curb the impact of climate crisis on the continent.

Indeed, a cycle of droughts and floods, in recent months, causing serious humanitarian problems including food crisis, health issues and displacements, and communal strife in some pastoral regions among others have caused a lot of hue and cry among both African environmentalists and politicians. They argue that although Africa’s contribution to the greenhouse emissions that have led to the climate disaster is largely insignificant, the poor continent is paying for the excesses of richer nations.

“Africa will not be there to express its participation by merely warming the chairs or to make perfunctory speeches and statements,” said the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, elected by the African Union to head the continent’s delegation for the Copenhagen climate summit in December, 2009. The delegation includes Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa. African Union chief Jean Ping and AU current chairman Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi will also be present at the summit. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian premier has warned that “If needs be we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threaten to be another rape of our continent”.

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