June 25, 2009 / 10:07 AM / 9 years ago

Africa needs compensation for climate change - Meles

* Rich nations should pay for damage to Africa

* Ethiopian droughts may have been caused by pollution

By Barry Malone and Tsegaye Tadesse

ADDIS ABABA, June 25 (Reuters) - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has demanded that the rich world compensate Africa for global warming and said pollution in the northern hemisphere may have caused his country’s ruinous 1980s famines.

A U.N. summit scheduled for December in Copenhagen will try to reach global agreement on how to tackle climate change and come up with a post-Kyoto protocol to curb emissions.

"Africa should demand compensation at the upcoming Copenhagen negotiations," Meles, one of Africa’s most outspoken leaders on global issues, told reporters late on Wednesday.

"(There are) certain theories that the droughts of the 1980s in much of the Sahel, including in Ethiopia, were to some extent due to pollution in the northern countries," added the former rebel, who represented Africa at this year’s G20 summit.

A study commissioned by the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum last month said poor countries bear more than nine-tenths of the human and economic burden of climate change. Yet the 50 poorest countries contribute less than 1 percent of carbon emissions heating up the planet, it found.

"Africa is going to be very significantly affected," said Meles. "Some parts of the continent may become uninhabitable. Therefore, those that did the damage have to pay."

"Any agreement in Copenhagen which does not include substantial compensation for Africa would be illegitimate," Meles added. "I hope that it won’t come to lawsuits." (Reporting by Barry Malone and Tsegaye Tadesse; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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