COP27 and Africa’s vulnerability to climate change: Time for actions over dialogues for Africa
Africa hosts the UN climate summit (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt for the year 2022. Although the summit is held in Africa, the continent continues to be vulnerable in the face of the effects of climate change.
Throughout this article, we look at what should be done to make the African continent more resilient to climate change effects. We based on the reflections and opinions of experts, government officials and international organizations to understand what COP27 would leave as a tool for the African continent in the fight against the global climate crisis especially in Africa.
By Justin Kayiranga
Year on year, the African continent records an increase of diverse climate change effects including high rise in temperature, heat waves, extensive floods, droughts, among others which result in loss of lives, property damage and population displacement.
All these facts show that Africa is a hotspot of vulnerability to the adverse impacts of human-induced climate change
Based on existing emissions trends, the scientific Results from a wide range of climate model simulations suggest that our planet’s average temperature could be between 2 and 9.7°F (1.1 to 5.4°C) warmer in 2100 than it is today. The main reason for this temperature increase is carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping “greenhouse” gases that human activities produce.
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) loss and damage report, if nothing is done in terms of climate action, Africa is projected to experience more climate related dangers and tribulations.
“The need for adaptation measures to cope with these projected impacts is significant even at 1.5-2°C warming. However, the Loss and Damage in Africa report shows that under all warming scenarios and despite strong adaptation efforts in the region, considerable adverse effects of climate change will be felt in Africa, resulting in further loss and damage.”
Recalling on the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Stockholm declaration on the human environment, the largest share of historical and current global emissions have originated in developed countries and notes that increasing concentrations of GreenHouse Gases (GHGs) will result in additional warming that may adversely affect natural systems and humankind.
The UNFCCC provides that developed countries should take the lead in combating the adverse effects of climate change. Developed countries agree under Article 4.3 to provide funding to developing countries for the agreed full incremental costs of adaptation measures. Under Article 4.4, developed countries additionally agree to provide assistance to developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting the costs of adaptation.
In 2015, while briefing to an informal meeting of the General Assembly on the ongoing preparations for COP21 that was held in Paris the French capital from 30 November to 11 December 2015, Mr Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General at time, called on developed countries to take the lead in financing both adaptation and mitigation needs.
He said ” I call on developed countries to make public finance pledges before Paris that balance both adaptation and mitigation needs. This is essential for building the trust that is needed to secure a meaningful, universal agreement”
All these sound like they should help Africa in the fight against climate change effects and securing finance for loss and damage however it seems that the developed countries do not comply with this agreement and continue to slow its implementation.
In the eighth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) that was held in Kigali, March 2022, different speakers recalled the need to implement climate finance policy for Africa and developing countries and they also condemned the delaying action that is triggering more catastrophic impacts on the continent.
Speaking at the event, Faustin Munyazikwiye, Deputy Director of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), revealed how Africa struggles to convince developed countries to put in place climate financing mechanisms while at Glasgow COP26, and the only answer they got was the initiation of dialogues.
“Africa continues to be affected by climate change impacts but we are still struggling to convince our partners from the North about how we are affected. We pushed and fought hard to get at least a financing mechanism for loss and damage but Glasgow only delivered technical assistance and the initiation of dialogue.” Munyazikwiye said.
He added that “We need to stay together and have a common voice. We don’t want numbers; we want climate finance which is responding to our needs. That’s the voice we have to take to Egypt at COP27.”
WE ARE NOT SELLING ELECTRIC CARS TO AFRICA
It’s not only climate finance that has been an issue for Africa but also when it comes to climate actions, the continent seems not to be among the priorities to access the use of green technologies despite its commitment and willingness to pay for it.
Maxwell Gomera, the UNDP Resident Representative to Rwanda, while at the ACCER Media Award-side-line event that took place during CHOGM2022 on June 22nd 2022, revealed how UNDP was denied to buy an electric car due to the fact that it was coming to Africa-Rwanda.
He said “We were trying to change the car that I use to an electric car and we approached major electric car producing companies in Europe and in Japan. Four that we approached said to us- we are not selling electric cars to africa”
“Now, how is Africa expected to make the transition to a low carbon economy if it’s denied the basic technology that we need to be able to do so?” He asked
With all the facts stated above and how Africa is ignored despite its climate change struggles, COP27 is a unique opportunity for this continent to present to the world its commitment to fight climate change and to call on developed countries to comply with the terms of the international agreements on climate change, especially the financial mechanism.
“Without finance we cannot implement climate action. If we don’t have money, we cannot do anything. So, African people, this is our time. Let’s go to Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt) and tell our story and fight for our life. That’s what we need to do.” Says Augustine Njamnshi, Chair of the Technical and Political affairs Committee, PACJA
In a Getting to know COP27-twitter space hosted by the Rwanda’s ministry of Environment on October 26th 2022, Dr. Mujawamariya Jeanne D’Arc, the minister of Environment stressed how this continent should take advantage of COP27 and showcase its success stories in order to attract more partners in the run to having a climate resilient continent.
“Rwanda will showcase our key green investments such as Green Gicumbi and more. We are taking Nyandungu Eco Park to Sharm El Sheikh to showcase that from the country’s initiative we can rehabilitate a wetland into a public park. We are taking our E-mobility and E-waste investment as well as conservation and reforestation initiatives. Those are some of the initiatives we are going to showcase at COP27, and partners will embrace our initiatives because everyone wants to be associated with success.” Minister Mujawamariya.
Shift from talks to actions
Speaking to TOPAFRICANEWS, Charles Karangwa, the IUCN Regional Head of Land systems in Africa, recalled the fact that what we are facing today is a result of what our forefathers did many years ago. However, he emphasizes that climate change issues can not only be solved by political will but also the implementation in terms of taking actions.
He said “One challenge that we still have is that there are more talks than actions globally. In all meetings we say that everything is going to change but when it comes to taking actions, you’ll see a different story.”
Charles Karangwa affirms that the change Africa needs, in terms of climate actions and justice, must start within Africa because “If we are tired of no actions, let’s take actions. I don’t think we should expect change from outside. Change starts within and if we don’t want the change, the change will make us actually change.”
Suggestions to why changes are needed for Africa to get rid of its vulnerability to climate change, include the fact that part of why the global community doesn’t invest in Africa is because the perception of risk on this continent is very high.
To this adds also the fact most of the investors from developed countries, whenever motivated to invest in Africa, most of what they think about is corruption, incompetency and losing their money.
“Those narratives might be true in certain parts of Africa but they are not generally true. We don’t tell our stories very well.” Maxwell Gomera said.
Egypt is the fourth African country to host the UN conference of Parties, after Morocco has hosted COP7 & COP22, Kenya hosted COP12 while South Africa has hosted COP17.
(Written by Mr. Justin Kayiranga and edited by Mr. DUSABEMUNGU Ange de la Victoire for TOP AFRICA NEWS)