By Tim Saunders on
The petition calls for adequate resources to be provided to developing countries to cope with the effects of climate change.
“Last week I was back in Ethiopia, and the question I’m always asked is, of course, is it all worth it, what’s changed in Ethiopia and in Africa as a whole?” said Geldof. "A great deal, I answer – for both better and worse.
“On the positive front, economic growth has boomed; indeed, next year Ethiopia is expected to be among the top five fastest growing economies in the world. Education enrolment has been doubled, malaria death rates halved and HIV/AIDS is on the decline. Mobile phones are spreading and rural roads are linking remote communities to markets and health and education services. Above all, though too many people are still reliant on food aid, famine will be avoided this year as it has for the last 18 years, as distribution and early warning systems have improved. Certainly, the government could be more transparent, but on the whole this is a country making progress, in a continent that has been doing likewise.
“Then there is the negative change—that of the climate. Increasingly erratic rainfall has forced farmers to radically alter their systems. Some communities we visited in Tigray have had to rename the months of the year because the names were based on the seasons. They’ve now given up as the pattern of the seasons has changed so quickly. People told us how reduced rainfall has cut their income from farming. This in turn strains the social fabric. Thefts are becoming more common, and the children are having to go to work instead of school.
“The tension between the positive and negative changes in Ethiopia is palpable. Which direction wins depends on the choices Ethiopians make, and to some extent upon us. And it’s not all about us having to make sacrifices; there are opportunities too. There’s an inevitability to the way our own economies are adapting – and an economic rationale for us to buy into this change. The inefficiencies of the hydrocarbon economy will be replaced by clean renewables; carbon finance trading will be a major industry in the near future, and ‘green’ jobs are the fastest expanding new source of employment. Growing trees to capture carbon could become a new cash crop for African farmers if the right framework is agreed in Copenhagen.”
To watch a video of Bob Geldof talking about his recent trip to Ethiopia and to sign the petition, click here.
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