Conferees are told of 'climate shocks'
African countries fearful of damage
ACCRA, Ghana - Africa already is suffering from "climate shocks," the president of Ghana told a 160-nation climate conference yesterday, joining a chorus of calls to speed up the pace of talks on a new agreement to rein in carbon emissions.
More than 1,600 delegates and environmental specialists began a week of tough UN-sponsored negotiations, hoping to start drafting language for a treaty due to be adopted next year. The agreement would succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
President John Kufuor said Ghana had witnessed devastating drought and floods in recent years, underscoring scientific predictions that Africa will be the worst-hit continent if the average temperature continues to rise.
"There is a real need for strengthening the capacity of countries, particularly in Africa, in coping with such climate shocks."
The Kyoto accord focused on the commitment by 37 industrial countries to reduce their emissions by an average 5 percent from 1990 levels by 2012.
The new accord, likely to be called the Copenhagen Agreement since it is due to be concluded in the Danish capital, will partially focus on creating funds and transferring technology to developing countries to help them adapt to climate change while building economies.
Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Climate Change, said a draft must be ready within a year to conclude an agreement by December 2009..
Scientists say emissions must level off within 10 to 15 years and begin to decline sharply to contain global warming.
Leaders at the Group of Eight industrial countries agreed at a July summit to a nonbinding goal to cut their emissions by 50 percent by mid-century, but they declined to discuss shorter-term targets.