Usually the costs of climate change are discussed in very indirect terms, such as land lost to rising sea levels or increased wildfires or resource insecurity. However, a new proposal before the African Union may introduce a new, more direct cost of climate change - cold (well, warm) hard cash.
The nations of Africa contribute less than one percent of all global carbon dioxide emissions, but is home to 15 of the 20 countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. If approved by the African Union, the nations of Africa will be demanding up to 200 billion dollars in annual compensation at the UN Climate Change Conference in December.
Although the details of the plan have not been released, the primary outcome of the effort will be a unified African voice on the issue. According to the concept note for the Conference of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change:
The decision of the AU Summit regarding the climate change negotiation structure is premised on the fact that there had been major limitations on African negotiating structure; thus it has not been able to achieve optimal results for the continent. One key gap has been dismal coordination of the African negotiation process. More importantly, there has not been visible continent wide political leadership on climate change negotiations in the UNFCCC process. The technical competence of the negotiators needs to be backed with the political weight at the highest level in the continent to have the desired impacts at global level. Secondly, the positions taken by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government need to be interpreted technically by the negotiators and translated into negotiating positions and texts. This will be one way of ensuring that the African voice on climate change negotiations is taken with the seriousness it deserves.