Categories: "Special" or "Copenhagen Climate Summit"

Ethiopia - Meles Zenawi in Copenhagen : In Pictures

December 19th, 2009

Ethiopia - Meles Zenawi in Copenhagen : In Pictures

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (C) arrives at the morning session of United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen December 18, 2009. World leaders worked through the early hours to try and beat a Friday deadline for a deal on cutting emissions and helping poor countries cope with the costly impact of global warming. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins (DENMARK - Tags: POLITICS ENVIRONMENT)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi addresses a session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen December 18, 2009. World leaders worked through the early hours to try and beat a Friday deadline for a deal on cutting emissions and helping poor countries cope with the costly impact of global warming. REUTERS/Bob Strong (DENMARK - Tags: POLITICS ENVIRONMENT)

Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi breaks deadlock

December 18th, 2009
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi speaking at the Copenhagen Clime Conference 12/16/2009

Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi breaks deadlock

Peter Wilson, Europe correspondent

Source: The Australian

BARACK Obama and the best-known leaders in the world will gather in Copenhagen today but it is a slight, gently-spoken Ethiopian who has injected at least a faint ray of hope into the climate change summit by opening the way for a breakthrough on climate funding.

Meles Zenawi, a former Marxist guerilla who has spent 18 years ruling Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country after Nigeria, surprised delegates from most countries and displeased some of the 52 African nations that he is representing in Copenhagen by offering a US$300 billion-a-year compromise on the issue of climate finance.

The average Australian would never have heard of him but if the search for a real climate deal makes any progress over the next few months then Mr Meles might just be remembered as the man who helped to protect Australia as well as his own continent from the worst effects of climate change.

Acting on his own initiative, Mr Meles delighted organizers of the summit by putting back into motion one of the key deadlocked issues.

Some African politicians were quick to accuse him of selling out his continent.

"If Prime Minister Meles wants to sell out the lives and hopes of Africans for a pittance he is welcome to, but that is not Africa's position," said Cameroon MP Awudu Mbaya Cyrpian, the president of the Pan-African Parliamentarians Network on Climate Change.

The problem for Meles's critics was that the 54-year-old Ethiopian had laid the groundwork for his proposal so skilfully and quietly that he had left his opponents with little time and few options to thwart him.

The same strategic 'nous' has allowed him to become one of Africa's longest serving leaders and to make his government a favoured recipient of US military and financial aid despite his poor human rights record, which includes jailing political opponents and allowing his security forces to shoot dead 200 civilians who dared to protest against rigged elections in 2005.

Just two weeks ago the G77 group of 130 developing nations, which is heavy with African states, was warning that there could be no climate change deal unless industrialised nations handed over at least 1 percent of their annual economic output, or $US400bn a year, to help poorer countries cope with climate change.

China vowed last week to help Mr Meles adopt that hardline approach, making the financing issue the latest battlefield in the growing contest between China and the West for influence in Africa.

The G77 is chaired by China's staunch ally Sudan and last Monday's walk-out from negotiations by African officials was led by another hardliner, Algeria, which was chairing the African Union for the bureaucrat-level talks.

But Mr Meles was appointed some months ago as the African Union's spokesman for leader-level climate talks, and he decided in recent days that the union's huge demands could never succeed.

Instead he offered to accept the sort of numbers that European leaders have already said they could live with, as long as the money came from reliable sources and was backed by a guarantee that the Africans would have a strong say in the administration of any money they receive.

By the time he rose in the main conference hall in Copenhagen to unveil his proposal he had discussed it in a 48-hour blitz of talks with western leaders including Nicolas Sarkozy, Gordon Brown and Kevin Rudd, and explained it at the last moment to his fellow African leaders.

Mr Meles, who has sent his eldest daughter to study at Oxford and his two other children to his country's most elite English-speaking school, essentially accepted figures that had been put forward by the British PM Mr Brown by demanding $US10bn a year in climate funding from next year, rising to $50bn by 2015 and $100bn by 2020.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yeswterday signed up to the $100bn figure, putting it on the way to becoming a new consensus figure.

The Ethiopian insisted that Africa would have to have an equal say with donors in overseeing such funds but European leaders were so grateful to see any sign at all of compromise at Copenhagen that they quickly accepted his conditions, making it likely that the funding issue can be settled if other sticking points can also be budged.

Wary of the West's poor record of keeping its aid promises, Mr Meles demanded that a panel of experts should be given just six months to examine more reliable and "innovative" funding methods such as new fuel taxes on shipping and aviation, the sale of carbon credits, a new "Tobin tax" on financial transactions, or the use of IMF assets.

"I know my proposal today will disappoint those Africans who... have asked for full compensation ... for damage done to our development prospects," he told the summit.

"My proposal dramatically scales back our expectation of the level of funding in return for more reliable funding and a seat at the table in the management of such a fund."

"We are not here to preach or grandstand. We are here to negotiate, to give and take, and seal a fair deal however messy such a deal might be."

Conceding that a failure to reach a deal would hurt vulnerable poor countries more than wealthy nations, he said that "because we stand to lose more than others we have to be flexible."

"Such flexibility should not be confused with desperation," he added, warning that if his conditions were not met he would use Africa's clout to ensure that no deal of any kind could be signed a deal at Copenhagen.

Ethiopian journalist Simegnish Yekoye said later that even though Mr Meles looks and sounds like an academic rather than a revolutionary fighter nobody in his home country had any doubts that he was tough enough to carry out his threat.

At the age of 19, Mr Meles dropped out after two years of medical school in the capital Addis Ababa to join guerillas fighting the Mengistu communist military junta. By the time the rebels took power in 1991 36-year-old Mr Meles was in control.

He established a one-party state until the collapse of the USSR led him to improve ties with the United States and adopt more liberal economic policies, a bond that strengthened when the Bush Administration was looking for allies in its "war on terror".

He has since found time to complete an MBA by correspondence through Britain's Open University and a master's degree in economics from a Dutch university, while becoming something of an expert on the climate disasters that have inflicted droughts, floods and more widespread malaria on the 80 million people of Ethiopia.


Related Links


Zenawi Stands Alone In Copenhagen (IPS)



What did Zenawi get in exchange for so radically changing his tune? (Guardian)



Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi breaks deadlock (The Australian)



Ethiopia and France appeal for an ambitious Copenhagen Accord



African Delegates accuse Meles Zenawi of shortchanging Africa (ntv)



Ethiopia's Prime Minister spoke on behalf of all African countries. Video



Meles Zenawi and Nicolas Sarkozy News Conference in Paris- Video



Meles Zenawi in Paris - Pictures

Ethiopia - What did Zenawi get in exchange for so radically changing his tune?

December 18th, 2009
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, left, listens to French President Nicolas Sarkozy during a press conference following a meeting in Paris, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Ethiopia - What did Zenawi get in exchange for so radically changing his tune?

Naomi Klein, the award-winning author of the international bestseller, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, blasted the position taken by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at the Copenhagen Climate Summit. In an opinion piece published in the Guardian newspaper, Naomi writes, "And yet that is [a 2C increase in average global temperatures] precisely what Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, proposed to do when he stopped off in Paris on his way to Copenhagen: standing with President Nicolas Sarkozy, and claiming to speak on behalf of all of Africa (he is the head of the African climate-negotiating group), he unveiled a plan that includes the dreaded 2C increase and offers developing countries just $10bn a year to help pay for everything climate related, from sea walls to malaria treatment to fighting deforestation.

It's hard to believe this is the same man who only three months ago was saying this: "We will use our numbers to delegitimise any agreement that is not consistent with our minimal position … If need be, we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threaten to be another rape of our continent … What we are not prepared to live with is global warming above the minimum avoidable level."And this: "We will participate in the upcoming negotiations not as supplicants pleading for our case but as negotiators defending our views and interests."

We don't yet know what Zenawi got in exchange for so radically changing his tune or how, exactly, you go from a position calling for $400bn a year in financing (the Africa group's position) to a mere $10bn. "


Read Complete Article from Guardian

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Related Links


Zenawi Stands Alone In Copenhagen (IPS)



What did Zenawi get in exchange for so radically changing his tune? (Guardian)



Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi breaks deadlock (The Australian)



Ethiopia and France appeal for an ambitious Copenhagen Accord



African Delegates accuse Meles Zenawi of shortchanging Africa (ntv)



Ethiopia's Prime Minister spoke on behalf of all African countries. Video



Meles Zenawi and Nicolas Sarkozy News Conference in Paris- Video



Meles Zenawi in Paris - Pictures

Ethiopia - Zenawi Stands Alone In Copenhagen

December 17th, 2009
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi speaking at the Copenhagen Clime Conference 12/16/2009

Ethiopia - Zenawi Stands Alone In Copenhagen

By Mantoe Phakathi


COPENHAGEN, Dec 17
(IPS) - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi says Africa must compromise and be flexible towards other countries, if the U.N. Climate Conference ending on Dec. 18, is to reach an agreement.

Speaking to the press in the Danish capital, Zenawi - ostensibly leading the African front on climate change - said the continent would suffer the most should the world fail to seal a deal.

"Because we have more to lose, we should compromise and be flexible with (other countries)," said Zenawi, after admitting that his proposals at the U.N. summit fall short of African expectations.

But he was quick to point out that Africa’s bending did not mean desperation: "We will not accept any empty words".

Millions of Africans are banking their hopes on the Ethiopian Prime Minister, who was chosen to lead the African delegation during the High Level Meeting of heads of state that concludes the U.N. Climate Conference.

The prize is to bring home a sound deal that will act to slow the rising average temperatures that have caused catastrophic droughts and severe rains in recent years, and to secure funding from the historically-polluting countries to cope with changes that are already unvaoidable.


While maintaining that Africa had virtually no responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, Zenawi slashed the 67 billion dollars a year that African leaders agreed to demand from the industrialised nations who are responsible.

Instead his proposal accepts the developed world's offer of a start-up fund of $10 billion a year for Africa over the next three years, with the future to be decided on later. This fund will be dedicated to adaptation and mitigation actions, including the fight against deforestation, in poor countries.

"I support that the fund be established through the creation of a tax on international financial transactions, and that other sources be considered, such as taxes on sea freight or air transport," he said. "I also support that it should be administered through the African Development Bank."

In the long term, Zenawi proposed that funding rise to $50 billion a year in 2013, and reach $100 billion by 2020 - a proposal perfectly in line with what U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton outlined in a press conference on Dec. 17.

His proposal touched a raw nerve among African civil society organisations, who have demanded that he resign as coordinator of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change.

The proposal has caused outrage in Africa, according to Pan-African Climate Justice spokesperson Mithika Mwenda. He accuses Zenawi of caving in to the dictates of industrialised nations, leaving Africans to fend for themselves as best they can

"His statement is undermining the bold positions of African negotiators and ministers represented in Copenhagen, and threatens the very future of Africa," said an angry Mwenda.

The proposed $10 billion a year for Africa is an insult, said Mwenda, who did a quick calculation and came up with $4 a year for each African. In his view, it should be the size of the pocket, that determines the expected contribution from industrialised countries. They are, he said "paying their debt for polluting the earth".

A difficult start for Africa in the final phase of negotiations. The collective front put up by Africa Group negotiators as part of the Group of 77 and China block had failed to convince the Rich World to either commit to substantial greenhouse gas emissions or the $200 billion a year the developed world will need to cope with floods, droughts, rising sea levels and the spread of diseases due to climate change.

But the bloc had at least made it clear that the developing world would not stand peacefully by any abandoning of Kyoto Protocol commitments to reduce emissions, or easily settle for a modest though immediate sum.

Zenawi's break with this position to endorse a Western position is a worrying sign that this solidarity amongst the countries whose people will bear the full weight of climatic changes may not hold firm.

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Related Links

What did Zenawi get in exchange for so radically changing his tune? (Guardian)



Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi breaks deadlock (The Australian)



Ethiopia and France appeal for an ambitious Copenhagen Accord



African Delegates accuse Meles Zenawi of shortchanging Africa (ntv)



Ethiopia's Prime Minister spoke on behalf of all African countries. Video



Meles Zenawi and Nicolas Sarkozy News Conference in Paris- Video



Meles Zenawi in Paris - Pictures

Ethiopia - Meles Zenawi at Copenhagen Climate Summit - Video

December 17th, 2009
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi speaking at the Copenhagen Clime Conference 12/16/2009

Ethiopia - Meles Zenawi at Copenhagen Climate Summit - Video

African countries have also softened their demands for climate funding from developed nations. Ethiopia's Prime Minister spoke on behalf of all African countries.

He says he supports 100 billion US dollars in annual financing from industrialized nations, to help the developing world, by 2020. He also backs short-term funding, a position that falls in line with suggestions by the EU and the US.

Meles Zenawi, Ethiopian Prime Minister, said, "I support the establishment of a start-up fund of 10 billion dollars per annum, for the years of 2010 to 2012, to be used to address urgent adaptations in mitigation tasks, including forestry, and to prepare plans for more ambitious programs later on."