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African church leader urges binding climate change targets


The president of the All Africa Conference of Churches has called for legally-binding commitments to fight climate change, and he urged industrialised nations to keep their promises on the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to limit climate change-inducing gas emissions.

"The current global environmental crisis cannot be overcome through voluntary actions but through a legal commitment of all the nations of the world," the Rev. Nyansako-ni-Nku told an African church consultation on climate change and water, meeting in Nairobi from 3 to 5 June.

The Kenyan consultation coincides with a United Nations climate change meeting in Bonn, Germany. The UN meeting marks the beginning of an 18-month period of negotiations for a global pact to fight climate change after 2012, the target date for some nations to reduce climate-change inducing emissions under the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol.

Nku, who is from the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon, said industrialised countries had failed to meet their reduction targets, which amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period from 2008 to 2012.

"The AACC therefore calls on all industrialised countries to implement all the provisions of the Kyoto protocol as an initial step," said Nku.

Professor Jesse Mugambi, a theologian and ecologist from the University of Nairobi, told the church gathering that the global environmental crisis stemmed from three centuries of industrial expansion that began in Europe.

"We pumped a great deal of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to the point that the world became too hot for human habitation and for life," said Mugambi. "It is a serious matter that we are talking about. If we [Africa] do not act now, the truth of the matter is the Sahara desert and the Kalahari will merge."

Mugambi added, "We cannot wait for others to give us grants and aid donations to do this work. We must act ourselves."