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Experts call for unified African position ahead of COP26

A global expert in climate change negotiations has urged civil society organisations (CSOs) to align their messages with those of government delegations to enhance the African position in the upcoming climate conference next month.

George Wamukoya
George Wamukoya

During a Pre-Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Nairobi on Monday, October 18, 2021, Dr George Wamukoya, an expert at the African Group of Negotiators Support, said that Africa needs to present concise and clear messages at COP26 with strong basis for positions taken, “otherwise, we risk being tagged as merely noise makers.”

During the meeting, which was organised by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, Transparency International-Kenya, Care International and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Kenya Office, several participants from CSOs said issues such as compensation for loss and damage and funding adaptation projects are key priorities for Africa at the COP26.

Unfortunately, such issues are not a priority for the developed nations and have not been prioritised over the last COP meetings.

Bastian Schulz, the Kenya Resident Representative for FES, noted: “The COP26 outcome should deliver ambitious commitments that will provide predictable means of implementation for climate adaptation and mitigation especially on climate finance, capacity building and technology transfer for the already vulnerable developing countries like Kenya to respond urgently.”

Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have been meeting annually since the convention came into force in 1994 with the 26th Conference of the Parties scheduled for November 2021. Even though the 26th session was expected last year (2020), this was not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On May 31 to June 17, a virtual Subsidiary Bodies meeting was held to make some progress in preparation for COP26. The virtual nature of the session, however, made it difficult for CSOs to participate despite the important role they play in the negotiation process. CSOs as observers are expected to closely monitor and contribute to the COP26 negotiation process to ensure decisions reached solve everyday problems faced by vulnerable groups affected by climate change.

The climate crisis has primarily continued to adversely impact livelihoods in developing countries like Kenya. In September, 2021, Kenya declared drought a national disaster.

According to Dr Mithika Mwenda, the PACJA Executive Director, climatic changes are already damaging African economies, despite having contributed the least to global warming and having the lowest emissions. The changes pose even greater danger to infrastructure, water, public health and agriculture in the near future, if we do not consciously take measures to ensure communities are better prepared to deal with such challenges.

African countries have outlined bold aspirations to build climate resilient and low-carbon economies in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement. Having signed and ratified the Paris Agreement, nearly all African countries have committed to reducing their emission of greenhouse gases and supporting their communities to adjust and deal with the effects of climate change.  

Under the Paris Agreement reached at COP21, all countries agreed to take collective action on climate change to keep global temperature increases to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

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