Addis Ababa: The issue of climate change that we have come to discuss here today is of significant importance to the African Continent. Scientific projections unequivocally indicate that Africa will be hit hardest by the impacts of climate change as compared to other continents. Among other impacts, climate change will fundamentally affect agricultural productivity, increase the prevalence of diseases and poverty, increase water stress and trigger off conflicts and war. Africa's development aspirations are at stake unless urgent steps are taken to address the problem of climate change. It goes without saying that although Africa is least responsible for global warming, it is however suffering from the impacts of climate change. Therefore, Africa suffers most from the problem that it has not created!
The climate change challenge before us is enormous. However, Africa has faced even greater challenges in the past and I am confident that we shall prevail over this present challenge.
Given that Africa is already suffering from the severe effects of climate change, we all must urgently seek solutions. Fortunately, the international community is already engaged in a protracted process that will hopefully lead to an ambitious and effective international agreement to combat climate change at Copenhagen, Denmark in December this year. This is the time for Africa to aggressively engage in this process to ensure that Africa's concerns in this new international climate change agreement are effectively addressed.
Due to the great importance that the African Union attaches to the issue of climate change, the Heads of State and Government have recently taken important decisions on climate change.
Your Excellencies, Honourable Ministers, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, permit me at this stage to mention the important decisions on climate change that the African Union has taken in the recent past:
1. The 12th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in February 2009, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia adopted a historic decision on climate change the key elements of which include:
a)That the global carbon trading mechanisms that are expected to emerge from international negotiations on climate change should give Africa an opportunity to demand and get compensation for the damage to its economy caused by global warming and underlines in this regard the fact that despite contributing virtually nothing to global warming Africa has been one of the primary victims of its consequences.
b)That Africa needs to be represented by one delegation, which is empowered to negotiate on behalf of all Member States, with the mandate to ensure that resource flow to Africa is not reduced. The AU Commission was mandated to work out modalities of such representation.
2. The 13th Ordinary Session of African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Sirte, Libya in July, 2009 took another important and historic decision and established the Conference of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) comprising of the following:
The Chairperson of the African Union;
The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia;
The Republic of Algeria;
The Republic of Congo;
The Republic of Kenya;
The Republic of Mauritius;
The Republic of Mozambique;
The Republic of Nigeria;
The Republic of Uganda;
The Chairperson of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment;
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission; and
Technical Negotiators on climate change from Member states.
Another key element of the 13th Ordinary Session of African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Sirte, Libya in July, 2009 is that the Assembly mandated CAHOSCC, all AU Ambassadors and African negotiators from member States attending the negotiation process towards the 15th Conference of Parties (COP 15) to make use of the approved African common position on climate change.
Your Excellencies, Honourable Ministers, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, you will all agree with me that the decisions that I have just mentioned signify a fundamental shift in the collective policy and practice of African States towards international negotiations on climate change.
First and foremost, the decisions articulate a key political message that should inform the content of Africa's common position on key climate change agenda items that are under negotiation.
Secondly, Africa will henceforth be represented by one delegation at international meetings on climate change. The Conference of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) will spearhead Africa's negotiations on climate change.
I now wish to take this opportunity to thank all our technical experts on climate change from all across Africa for the achievements they have registered in their endeavours over the course of years. I believe that CAHOSCC will build from these very achievements to move the process forward to ensure that our work proceeds in a coordinated and consistent manner.
It is the expectation of the AU Commission that this meeting will produce the first-ever AU-Summit sanctioned key political messages on climate change from Africa, which will be widely distributed in the continent and throughout the World. This output will be informed by various political processes on climate change taking place in the continent. Secondly, there will be a close alignment of technical positions being negotiated by the African Group with the political messages from the continent, especially from the CAHOSCC.
Te outcome of this meeting will inform the deliberations of the CAHOSCC meeting being planned on the sidelines of the Special Summit in Tripoli, Libya on the 31st August 2009. Hence your deliberations this afternoon is very important. I am sure that CAHOSCC will appreciate the quality of the report that you will present to it.
At this juncture, I take this opportunity to declare the Meeting of the Representatives of the Conference of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) and the African Experts on climate change open so that we can turn our attention to important issues on our agenda.
I thank you and wish you happy and fruitful deliberations!
* OPENING STATEMENT BY H.E DR. JEAN PING, CHAIRPERSON OF THE AFRICAN UNION COMMISSION, AT THE MEETING OF THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CONFERENCE OF AFRICAN HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE (CAHOSCC) AND AFRICAN LEAD EXPERTS ON CLIMATE CHANGE; AUGUST 24, 2009 ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA