Tuesday, June 6, 2023

COP26: Why Africa’s Voice Must Be Heard


As world leaders convene in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12, 2021, to begin deliberations on climate change at the twenty-sixth session of the Conference of Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), there is an urgent need for Africa’s voice to be heard.

The impact of climate change on Africa and other poor continents of the world, who though contribute little to activities that exacerbate climate change still suffer the effects than others.

Though governments in Africa are carrying out pockets of intervention to mitigate the damage wreaked on their environment by climate change, mitigating the effect requires a lot of funds which the continent does not have.

In his recent article on the impact of climate change in Africa, the director, Centre for Climate Change and Development (CCCD), Alex-Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike (AEFUNAI), Prof. Chukwumerije Okereke, said climate change is also causing a decrease in the production of many staple foods on the continent.

He pointed out that about 86 per cent of Africa’s agriculture is rain-fed, implying that even moderate variations in rainfall, temperature and precipitation patterns could have immediate impact on agricultural production.

According to him, Analysts determine that climate change will reduce crop productivity by up to 20 per cent, 30 per cent and, in some cases, 50 per cent over the next 20 or 30 years. Again, the anticipated loss runs into several billions of dollars. Moreso, the situation is bound to worsen food and other dimensions of insecurity in Africa.

The don noted that the impact of climate change in Africa has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and, with this in mind, experts have estimated the total combined economic impact to be $200 billion annually by 2070. 

“Given the role of rich countries in imposing the risk of climate change and COVID-19 pandemic on Africa, it is arguable that 50 per cent of the projected $200billion cost of climate change to Africa should be borne by rich countries.  This would imply that rich countries owe Africa at least $100 billion for climate-related loss and damage and several billion to help boost recovery from COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

Okereke urged African leaders to use the opportunity availed by COP26 to ask for specific climate finance programmes that target Africa so that the future of millions of African children is not mortgaged by climate change caused by pollution from rich countries.

African Continent

Speaking during a one-day negotiators’ training workshop ahead of the COP26 in Abuja, the Minister of State for Environment, Barr. Sharon Ikeazor, who will lead the Nigerian delegation, said Africans must negotiate in line with a framework for financial and technical support for developing countries.

Africa must impress on the developed countries the need to support developing countries in their mitigation and adaptation efforts because they are largely responsible for the losses and costs associated with climate change.

“Developed nations promised to raise US$100 billion a year to support climate change adaptation and mitigation in vulnerable countries. However, reports show that this pledge has fallen short by at least US$20 billion since 2018. Unfortunately, there are no clear plans provided by the ‘rich’ nations on how this deficit will be met. This is the time to hold them accountable. This COP 26 provides the platform to express our concerns as Africans,” she stated.

The minister said leaders of Nigeria’s delegation will approach the convention with a strong, unified voice, presenting the nation’s climate change concerns and needs.

According to her, the negotiation outcomes at COP26 must succeed in favour of Africa and other developing countries by focusing on making finance more accessible and faster to Africa and other developing countries; developed nations must pledge to boost non-financial efforts in climate change adaptation, such as education and re-commit financially to the course, in line with the revised nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

“We need a unifying negotiation vision that sets out clear rules, inspires action and promotes raised ambition, based on the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances. We have no time for limitless negotiations. A completed commitment will unleash the potential of the Paris Agreement, build trust and make clear that countries are serious about addressing climate change,” she added.

Similarly, one of Nigeria’s negotiators, Prof. Emmanuel Oladipo, opined that though Africa has been unable to access the $100bn pledged as far back as 2009, the return of America to the negotiating table might turn the tide for developing nations.

“We have not succeeded in getting access to these funds for developing nations most impacted by climate change but cannot address the challenges as much as developed nations. That’s why we have been making a case that the developed nations largely responsible for the global warming trend that we are looking at now are reneging on this pledge. We hope that, with the return of America to the negotiating table, the tide might turn. We have a president now that is very committed to climate change issues in America and we believe that if Africa can put pressure on the American system to drive that urge, we might be lucky to get better responses than we did.

“We may not get the $100bn at once but we have to put it there, to be forceful and ready to show that we are not just asking for money, but the money that will enable us to develop the climate-risky environment that we are all living in,” he added.

Earlier, the acting director, department of climate change, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Halima Bawa-Bwari, restated Nigeria’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, saying Nigeria has achieved a lot of milestones since the submission of the first INDC in 2015.

According to her, the newly revised, ambitious, unconditionally pledged 20 per cent reduction on business-as-usual emissions by 2030 and a 47 per cent conditional commitment, which can be achieved with financial assistance, technology transfer and capacity-building is a testament to Nigeria’s commitment to the agreement.

She further said the training availed the opportunity to be critical of the level of Nigeria’s preparation for the COP. The training, she said, aimed at improving the skills and knowledge of delegates from different sectors on the international climate change decision-making process to help them engage effectively at the conference.

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