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Africa must seize new opportunities offered by climate change battle: UN agency

Africa must seize new opportunities offered by climate change battle: UN agency

A new chance to fight poverty, environmental degradation and chronic energy shortages across Africa is fast emerging as a result of the latest negotiations to fight global warming, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said today.

New sources of funds have been approved for renewable and cleaner energy projects and forestry schemes, as well as ones that will help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, the agency said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

"Africa, the continent which the scientists tell us will be hit hardest by climate change, must have their fair share of these new funds," said Klaus Toepfer, the Executive Director of UNEP. "At the same time, African countries must seize on these new opportunities and begin harnessing them now. There is no time to lose."

UNEP, which hosts the secretariat of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, is standing by with knowledge, advice and skills that can help African countries grasp the opportunities and implement these new energy, forestry and adaptation projects in the most effective ways, Mr. Toepfer said.

The new sources of funding have emerged as a result of the UN climate talks that ended today in Bonn, Germany, where 180 countries agreed on a rulebook for bringing into force the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which sets emission reduction targets for industrialized countries that have to be met by 2010. The agreement also outlines ways and rules by which these targets can be met. The funding streams are the Special Climate Change Fund and a special fund for the Least Developed Countries, many of which are in Africa.

European Union countries, Switzerland and Canada have pledged $410 million towards the Funds, with an additional $10 million pledge from Canada specifically to kick start the Least

Developed Countries Fund.

"We now have the chance for a new beginning on the continent," said the Director of UNEP's Regional Office for Africa, Sékou Touré, who warned that eventually billions of dollars would be needed for the effort. "With this beginning we start to build even bigger financial support to help developing and least developed countries in Africa deal with climate change while at the same time getting some benefits from the worldwide effort to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and the other greenhouse gases."