Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Broken Promises and Empty Pledges

 Africa contributes less than 4% of the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuels and industry. However, it suffers disproportionately from the effects of climate change. Cyclones, floods, high temperatures, and droughts are killing and displacing millions of Africa.  Climate change is not letting up. Floods in Nigeria and South Africa, droughts in Kenya and Somalia, and food crises in the Horn of Africa have led to massive deaths and huge damage to homes and infrastructure that cannot be recovered. Who will pay for the climate damage?

Finance is at the heart of the COP27 negotiations. Africa is anxious for a solution to the issue of loss and damage and is pushing for finance to address loss and damage as a result of global warming. The special needs and special circumstances of Africa are a priority for the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) at COP27. The argument is that developed countries largely responsible for climate change should pay for the loss of life and damage to property and infrastructure, not to mention economic and cultural losses endured by developing countries that do not have the means to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Selam Kidane Abebe, Legal Advisor to the AGN, explained, that African countries were investing up to 9% of the GDP on adaptation, money that should be invested in their equally pressing and urgent development sectors.

In 2009, developed countries committed to giving $100 billion annually until 2020 to help developing countries reduce emissions and cope with climate change. The money never came, and this target has been moved to 2023. 

Will it ever arrive?

“We hope so because it is the responsibility of developed countries to come forward with it,” Ambassador Wael Aboulmagd, Special Advisor to the COP27 President, told a media briefing. “In all reality $100 billion is not going to solve the problem; it is not even close to addressing a fraction of the climate needs… the numbers are in trillions. The overall financial landscape needs to be revisited,” Aboulmagd noted, convinced that developed countries must be nudged to find a workable solution in climate finance.

Climate change is hitting Africa hard, and extreme weather could cost the continent $50 billion annually by 2050, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)

 Rising fuel prices as a result of the Ukraine war have flipped the script. Some developed countries are increasing subsidies for fossil fuels, while others have fired up coal plants and natural gas lines to fill the energy gap. Even China has recently approved new coal mines. It has led to an argument that why not allow African countries to raise their emissions levels and develop their economies as developed countries did in industrializing? Should Africa – yearning to boost industrialization – abandon fossil fuel dependence and join the race for renewables?

“The speed of this energy transition should not be the same for every country around the world, many African countries are languishing in extreme poverty, and they make the case that if we are being told to keep that resource underground for the global good then the international community has to come up with a package to allow us otherwise to eliminate poverty and pursue our sustainable development goals,” said Aboulmagd. While there is a global case for emissions reduction targets and transition to renewables, developing countries cannot just be told to quit fossil fuels without financial support to go green. A tailored approach for every country, depending on its circumstances, is called for. “It is essentially telling people to stop having energy; by the way, Sub-Saharan Africa has less than 20 percent access to energy in their entire population. We need to make sure that when we make a demand of a country it is a reasonable one that they can reasonably be expected to do without almost devastating their development objectives and poverty reduction elimination objective,” he urged.

 Inger Andersen, United Nations Environment Programme, Executive Director, says, “Even if all commitments are implemented immediately, the reality is that climate change is going to be with us decades into the future. And the poorest keep paying the price for our inaction. It is, therefore, imperative that we put time, effort, resources, and planning into adaptation action.”

Africa: Will COP27 Deliver or be a Climate Forum of Empty Promises? | Inter Press Service (ipsnews.net)

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