Climate change is one of the main problems affecting the global environment which is critical to human welfare. Although the least developed countries (LDCs) in general and Africa in particular contribute the least to the problem, they are the most affected, with reasons varying from lacking resources to cope, immense poverty, and that many LDCs are located in regions where severe weather will hit the most.
This fact makes it difficult to deal with the problem of climate change because unilateral efforts or even efforts of a certain group of countries cannot solve it unless the world acts globally. Almost two decades ago, most countries joined an international treaty—the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—to begin considering what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with arising problems (e.g. effects of temperature increases). This convention is based on the principles of equity and “common but differentiated responsibility” which require industrialized countries to take the lead in modifying longer-term trends in emissions. Since the UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994, there have been many subsequent negotiations and agreements on climate change. In general, the Convention and other agreements have made provisions that industrialized countries reduce their emission and make finance available to LDCs for mitigation and adaptation to the impacts of climate change. However, little has been achieved both in terms of mitigation and making finance available to LDCs. On the other hand, the impacts of climate change are no longer “things of the future” in Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular. While the international community is mired in negotiations that seem to be endless, Africa is already counting the costs of climate change. This paper briefly presents the major climate conventions, negotiations, provisions, achievements, and implications for Africa/Ethiopia. Finally, we present positions that developing countries in general and Africa in particular could take in future climate negotiations in line with the principles of equity and “common but differentiated responsibilities” and in order to reflect the specific circumstances Africa faces with respect to climate change.
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