African Climate Talks II: Africa needs to act urgently
By Olumide Idowu*
Participants attending the African Climate Talks II (ACT-II) in Addis Ababa ( Ethiopia) in March, called Africa to change how it does business to reap the benefits of the Paris Agreement.
Attending the two-day talks last month called “Market policy versus market mechanisms in the implementation of the Paris Agreement”, speakers asked for an urgent shift in how the continent will forge ahead to escape the consequences of climate change.
Ambassador Lumumba Di-Aping, from South Sudan and former chair of the G77 called for strengthening of the current regime, noting that the current Paris Agreement is fundamentally flawed and inadequate.
“The agreement will be the main basis for multilateral cooperation during the first period of commitments (2020-2030). The African Continent in this new architecture is tragically weaker than even before,” Di-Aping said.
He urged Africa to reinvent itself consistently through science. “We must think “out of the box” to build the framework for a more effective effort from 2025 onwards – one consistent with Africa’s survival and prosperity,” he said.
Dr James Murombedzi, the Officer in Charge of the Africa Climate Centre Policy (ACPC) noted that the continent needs to invest in strong evidence based African narrative.
“This narrative should have a science, research and policy interface. We also should invest in informed societies that participate in the shaping of policies and strengthen capacities of countries,” Murombedzi said.
“The temperatures are rising and Africa is suffering. Let us unite to save our continent. Let us develop sustainable ways of dealing with climate change,” Woldu said.
Di-Aping noted that Africa must move beyond the old dichotomy of “mitigation and adaptation.”
“We must look at each sector – agriculture, industry etc – and focus on integrating climate considerations into wider industrial and development planning in an integrated way. The climate regime must focus not just on “emissions reductions” but on the real solutions needed to achieve them,” Di-Aping said. He urged for negotiations which provide a space where these with problems, with solutions and with money, can meet as part of a structured process.
“We need to make the UNFCCC more relevant to the real world. The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative is to be commended as an important step in the energy sector – we need matching initiatives in each other sector,” he said.
“Let us think about the financial sector and financial instruments and engineering. If we need a major plan to address 1.50C, the question arises how to fund it. Clearly the $10 billion in the GCF will not be enough; and developed countries have no intention of delivering $100 billion in practice,” Di-Aping said.
“Meeting for a few weeks a year is simply not realistic if the objective is to stabilize the Earth’s climate and maintain the conditions needed for the continuation of civilization,” Di-Aping said.
He called on African leaders to recognize that the continent faces an existential crisis that it cannot alone solve.
He noted that Africa needs stronger science from an African perspective and Climate Institutions.
“We need an African Climate Science Working Group – an African IPCC led by and for Africans. We do not have an AU Commissioner for Climate Change. It is notable that there is no permanent secretariat supporting the African Group, and that we shamefully remain reliant on foreign donors for much of the support to our technical experts,” Di-Aping said.
He also urged Africa to find ways to exert greater pressure on all countries to achieve 1.50C and 20C goals.
Prof Laban Ogallo of the University of Nairobi called for trans-boundary efforts to make sure that one country’s wrongs or rights do not affect neighbours. “Many African countries share rivers, mountains, lakes, coastal lines among many resources. We need to work together so that we can achieve common goals across the continent,” Ogallo said.
Dr Adeniyi Asiyanbi of the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom said REDD+ is replete with severe rights abuses, safeguards notwithstanding.
“REDD+ is alive but certainly not dead. Communities participating in the scheme are disillusioned due to unmet expectations. However, carbon forestry logic will persist and will reflect emerging political trends. Governments and international institutions will also seek new alliances under this scheme,” Asiyanbi said.
Prof. Godwell Nhamu of the University of South Africa urged African negotiators to vigorously negotiate for all they want.
“Half a loaf is better than nothing” is a myth. Half a loaf remains half a loaf. Let us negotiate for a full loaf. If our negotiators can’t ask for what we want, they should give way for those who are willing to get what they ask for in the UNFCCC process,” Nhamu said.
“There is minimal reference of agriculture on African NDCs. Rwanda mentions it 23 times while South Africa mentions it twice. If we forsake agriculture, then we have missed the point,” he added
Prof David Lessole of the University of Botswana called for specific and urgent interventions to address effects of climate change.
“We run a workshop on $20,000 and end it at a talking point. If the $20,000 was given to a group of women to construct a sand dam, they could break the cycle of poverty,” Lessole said.
He added, “Seems in Africa, we do not have the mouth to eat the climate money. We use our mouths to talk too much when others are eating.”
“Africa does not lack the capacity to deliver on its promises. We should talk about capabilities of implementing the same. The continent has a strong reservoir of research brains which we need to nurture and use in solving our problems,” Ngonzo said.
“We need to quickly finish drafting the Paris Agreement rule book so that we implement the pact. African countries however, need to pursue policies that can be implemented as some of them are hard to implement,” Osafo said.
Dr Yitebitu Moges, national REDD+ coordinator, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Ethiopia said the country’s green growth path cuts across its seven economic sectors.
“We aim to achieve a 64 per cent reduction in national greenhouse emissions by 2030. Agriculture and forestry contribute close to 85 per cent of the baseline emissions,” Moges said.
Olumide Idowu has over 10 years’ working experience on social media, environment, climate change, monitoring & evaluation and sustainable development issues.
A youth climate change policy expert and trainer, he has represented Nigeria and Africa at over 10 high-level global governance meetings on sustainable development.
He is co-founder of Climate Wednesday, a not-for-profit outfit that seeks to identify key climate-based issues affecting developments in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general.
Besides leading the youth advocacy efforts on environment, climate change and sustainable development in Africa, Idowu serves as Senior Communication Officer for African Youth Initiative on Climate Change, and Technical Assistant to Save the Children Nigeria on advocacy and campaign. He is currently invited by the US Department of State for an three weeks International Visitor Leadership Program.