The Criticality Of The Top Three Climate-Related Issues Africans And Their Governments Need To Pay Attention For Africa At COP27 The “Africa COP”
By Obruche Onogoro (FCILG,FIMC,CMC)
Simon Stiell, the Executive Secretary of the UN climate change secretariat, spoke at the pre-COP high-level meeting of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) chaired by Ghana just recently where he said, “with just one month to COP27, the response from countries on their updated climate plans is a “failing grade”. He added that if countries do not act, the climate horrors being experienced will be minimal compared to what’s to come”.
This is because, all nations at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom last year were instructed to ‘revisit and strengthen’ their national 2030 climate action plans which they agreed to. However, only 23 of the 200 countries that signed this Pact submitted their updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Twelve percent. To call it a failing grade is an understatement.
On the other hand, developed countries failed to reach the $100 billion annual funds promised in Paris to developing countries for climate action by 2020.
The evident lack of urgency contrasts sharply with the projections from the Sixth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for Africa.
At the same time, Africa cannot wait. It must use all its tools to mainstream adaptation in its development path. With the pandemic still causing economic and livelihood damages in every corner of the continent, this task will be harder than ever.
As leaders, governments, negotiators and stakeholders involved converge at the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, the Africa COP, they should focus on three distinct climate-related issues for decisive, urgent climate action as a green and resilient path for Africa’s development cannot wait.
Carbon Emissions Reductions
Carbon emissions reductions sit at the core of climate action and countries must now deliver on their obligations to produce greater ambition in reducing carbon emissions and put us on track for a net zero future.
The world’s biggest emitters, in particular, must up their plans, developed countries must avoid shifting their climate responsibilities, particularly regarding their cumulative GHG emissions, to developing countries. Developed economies should lead with clear targets for reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
The world needs to show at COP27 that progress and firm commitments, “not only pledges” are moving the needle towards limiting global temperature rise to 1.5oC warming level. The world must take advantage of the opportunity to fulfill its responsibility together with Africa.
Despite producing only 4 per cent of the planet’s emissions, Africa is under extreme threat from climate change: it is home to 30 out of 40 of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries. The African Development Bank calculates that to merely adapt to climate change – before even trying to mitigate it – Africa requires $20-30 billion of finance annually until 2030.
There is an urgent call for the mobilisation of finance to move away from fossil fuels to clean energy, and national, business and finance leaders should show how the financial system can be transformed to align financial flows with current and required climate change commitments.
Leaders of developed countries must also deliver the $100 billion promised to developing countries each year to help mitigate their emissions and adapt to the impact of climate change – a pledge made in 2009. The money is a critical component in helping developing countries to adapt to the ugly reality of climate change.
Despite this obvious need, Africa fails to attract significant amounts of finance for climate change. Climate Policy Initiative’s (CPI) 2019 Global Landscape of Climate Finance estimates that just 3 per cent, $19bn of the $580bn, global climate finance finds its way to Africa.
While this financing gap remains unplugged, the incidence of damaging weather events increases year on year and climate variability continues to drive increased hunger on the continent. Without action, the social, environmental and political ramifications will only continue to grow.
This is an opportunity for world leaders to take proactive steps, provide the money needed to make the transition to net-zero and put their commitments into law. This is vital for climate change action in Africa, helping the continent bounce back from the shock of Covid-19 and deliver growth that is faster, cleaner and fairer which cannot be achieved under business-as-usual scenarios.
Prioritising Vulnerable People
Since COP26 last year, we’ve seen flooding and devastating tropical storms across Western and Central Africa, floods in Chad, Niger, Mali, Cameroun, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, South and Western Asia, and so on that has affected over 33 million people, damaged and destroyed crops, livestock, properties and over 1.3 million vulnerable families devastated and a record summer of high temperatures and wildfires across Europe and America.
Africa needs a decisive push to build capacity in climate change action, not only in ministries of environment but throughout society. The engineers and urban planners need to incorporate climate considerations in designing and constructing Africa’s infrastructure. African farmers need the best data and knowledge to make informed decisions to increase productivity in the face of a rapidly changing climate that is already impacting their crops. Low-income urban households and rural communities need to know what actions to take to better protect their lives and livelihoods against more frequent and intense climate shocks.
The issue of “loss and damage” has been discussed for decades and while it has been treated as a side issue at previous COPs it is emerging as one of the most critical topics at COP27.
We have failed to reduce emissions swiftly and vulnerable communities across the world are facing the impact of climate change today.
COP27—the “Africa COP”—is a unique opportunity to accelerate progress in climate action and mobilize the partnerships needed as Africa seeks to build back better from the pandemic and embark on the transformation of its economies to a low-carbon, inclusive, green, climate-resilient future. Africa must be assured of effective and timely support.
This provides an opportune moment to go beyond the $100 billion through an immediate acceleration in the delivery of climate finance and setting a roadmap for an ambitious post-2025 target. Without such ambition, Africa will not meet its climate and development ambitions, and the world will fail in meeting its collective climate goals.
However, Africa’s policymakers should not be passive recipients of what “others” can do for Africa in COP27. Africans should be well prepared and organized. They should have a unified, active, and consistent voice about the dire consequences of climate change for the continent and the urgency to take action
The world should know Africa is eager to partner with the developed countries in ensuring an ambitious outcome at COP27. We cannot afford to fail this time; even if the world remains under 1.5oC warming, Africa will need to adapt to the new reality of a rapidly changing climate.
A prosperous future of hundreds of millions of Africans will depend on the decisions and actions taken at COP27.