Friends of Lake Turkana

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The Climate Change debate will be clossing in two days and African youth representatives have been following the proceedings. They have been sending out regular updates and we at FoLT, who have been agitating for protection of Lake Turkana and the people of Lake against the vagaries of climate change, will share these updates here. Here is our first update.

Us against them?

It just hit 2am and everybody’s looking at each other with a wee bit of anger. Everyone’s tired obviously. Mugs of coffee are scattered all over the table. Thus far the negotiations have centred on two fronts; on one side there is a conglomerate of state parties who do not want to push through the agreements and another struggling to do the complete opposite.

One of the issues that have caused quite some uproar is the position of the U.S, yes Obama’s U.S and New Zealand concerning accounting. Basically they have refused to advance the accounting rules, hence stalled the negotiations concerning common accounting. It is like throwing the spanner in the works. Essentially, common accounting is crucial in terms of quantifying emission reduction[1].

The commitment problem!!

Annex 1 countries are still not coming out clearly and transparently concerning their targets. Common accounting rules are important in assessing progress towards the goals set out in addition to evaluating the effort that is put in realizing this ambition. These rules are crucial in strengthening the international carbon markets. The lack of commitment therefore shown by some of the Annex 1 countries jeopardizes the robustness of the carbon markets mechanism. The countries which are hindering the development of the common accounting rules make it very difficult to realize the targets that have been set, of less than 2 degree warming and a significant reduction in emissions. This also has an effect on the issue of surpluses. As alluded to in our earlier brief, the issue of surpluses is crucial and sensitive. In spilling the surpluses to the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, countries would not have to account much for their emissions since the shift will focus in buying emission permits. That is an eventuality we do not want to even consider.

Tiny Bites…

Essentially the U.S and New Zealand wanted to maintain the status quo by not wanting to further enhance the common accounting rules.

South Africa took a different view from the two “fossil giants” preferring the advancement of the rules to enhance transparency and accountability.

Canada have not expressed a favourable position regarding finance and are increasingly being recognized as “COP 18 villains” together with Russia, Ukraine, Poland New Zealand among a few others.

Norway have been making massive steps towards contribution towards efforts to reduce emissions, however, it has been found that they have not reduced their emissions because extraction and consumption of oil and gas has increased hence they have been put to task about it.


The up-shot is that there is a desire and urgency to enhance a 2nd commitment period with regard to the Kyoto Protocol. However, there are some Parties which are less than willing to see this through. They are less than transparent when it comes to commitment to a 2nd post Kyoto period.

Our Director, Ikal Angelei, has been announced as the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize Reciepient for Africa in recognition of her tireless effort to save Lake Turkana from the dangers of the massive Gibe 3 Dam being constructed in Ethiopia’s Omo River.

In 2008, Ikal Angelei, who also works with renowned anthropologist and conservationist, Dr. Richard Leakey, learned from the distinguished Kenyan of the construction of what will become Africa’s largest dam along the Omo River in Ethiopia. Ikal immediately recognized that the dam would be the death of Lake Turkana and the end of the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of impoverished and marginalized people in the Lower Omo Basin and Lake Turkana regions.

Ikal started her campaign to stop the construction of the dam which had started in 2006. Shortly, she and likeminded individuals formed the Friends of Lake Turkana. FoLT thus became the vehicle that would spearhead the campaign to stop Gibe 3 on its tracks. In the few years that Ikal and FoLT have campaigned against the dam, we have managed to convince several financing organizations, including the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank not to fund the construction of Gibe 3 – which is 40% complete – and convinced the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to issue a communiqué calling for a stop in the construction of Gibe 3. The Kenyan Parliament also passed a resolution requiring the government to demand an independent environmental Impact Assessment of the dam.

Ikal continues to trudge on as she is now pushing for the Kenyan government – which is in agreement with Ethiopia to purchase 60% of the electricity generated by the dam – to get out of the power purchase agreement thus make it unjustifiable for China to continue funding the dam owing to the diminished demand. As Ikal always says, “Aluta continua.”

The Goldman Environmental Prize was created in 1989 by civic leaders and philanthropist Richard N. Goldman and his wife Rhoda H. Goldman to support individuals struggling to win environmental victories against the odds. It is meant to inspire ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the world. The phenomenal Prof. Wangari Maathai – RIP – won this Prize in 1991.

Read more about Ikal’s achievement in this blog post by Peter Bosshard of International Rivers, key supporters and partners of FoLT.

Learn more about the Goldman Environmental Prize in their website.

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