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Friday, September 22, 2023

What does climate justice mean for Africa?

Recently, French President, Emmanuel Macron, convened a Summit for a New Global Financing Pact to find a road map for easing the debt burdens of low-income countries while freeing up more funds for climate financing.

Climate Justice Torch
Fpormer Minister of Environment, Mr Mohammed Abdullahi, being handed the Climate Justice Torch by members of the Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet)

The French president presented four pillars that should underpin the new global financial pact saying: “First, no country should have to choose between fighting poverty and protecting the planet.

“Second, each country must follow its own path because there is no single model. Third, we need to take on a public funding shock.

“And fourth, we need more from the private sector to mobilise a lot of money.”

The summit was coming eight years after the Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 Parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) on Dec. 12, 2015.

The Paris Agreement, which came into effect in 2016, was greeted as a landmark legally-binding international treaty on climate change.

Its core goal is to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and make efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

However, to achieve this, it was agreed that greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest and decline 43 per cent by 2030.

Unfortunately, through a combination of poor commitment, a lack of collaboration and inequality in resources, the world is at risk of missing that crucial target.

Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, said at the Paris summit that the world watches while the clock ticks.

“Today, the window of opportunity to achieve this goal is closing before our eyes:

“The past eight years have been the warmest on record worldwide and the critical 1.5°C threshold for annual temperatures will likely be exceeded in at least one year before 2027.”

Lagarde’s pessimism is not unfounded. Provisional figures released by the UK Met Office show that June 2023 is poised to be the hottest June on record in the United Kingdom.

The figures indicate that both the overall average and the average maximum temperatures are the highest on record.

Interestingly, the development is not peculiar to the UK.

Achieving the target set in the Paris Agreement at COP21 was hinged on four components: mitigation, adaptation, finance and collaboration.

Failure to achieve the 1.5/2°C goal already means that stakeholders have fallen short of the mitigation component.

Also, the impact of climate change on developing countries, especially in Africa, is an indication that the support, funding and awareness required for adaptation needs have been inadequate.

The Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) was established for that reason at COP26 in Glasgow to enhance resilience and assist the most vulnerable communities.

In terms of finance, experts say developed countries have failed woefully to fulfil their financial commitments to the Paris Agreement.

They said that, at every climate change summit, the same appeal is made for the world’s biggest polluters to enhance the transparency of financial flows and facilitate access to funds for developing countries.

“Developed economies must lead by example and honour the $100 billion climate pledge made 14 years ago at COP15 in Copenhagen.

“Governments should also mobilise private finance by implementing transition policies and creating a sound and stable framework to attract capital flows at the national and global level,” Lagarde said in Paris.

Poor advancement of partnership and collaboration has also been a stumbling block in tackling climate change.

Rich countries such as the US, China, the UK and countries within the EU, that contribute over 80 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, seem to have devised a tactic of finding their personal climate solutions.

Sadly, experts warn that developing nations, especially in Africa, the Caribbeans and Asia, are the hardest hit by the impact of climate change.

For instance, in spite of being responsible for a mere 3 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, countries in Africa are predicted to bear a disproportionate share of its impact.

In The State of the Climate in Africa 2021 report, World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) warned that climate change spells doom for Africa.

“Water stress and hazards like withering droughts and devastating floods are hitting African communities, economies and ecosystems hard.

“Rainfall patterns are disrupted; glaciers are disappearing and key lakes are shrinking. Rising water demand combined with limited and unpredictable supplies threatens to aggravate conflict and displacement.”

It is, therefore, important for developed countries to listen to the appeal of Sir David Frederick Attenborough, broadcaster and climate activist, who famously said:

“If working apart we are a force powerful enough to destabilise our planet, surely working together we are powerful enough to save it.”

And part of working together must include climate justice for the most vulnerable countries, especially in Africa.

The University of California Centre for Climate Justice says the concept of climate justice connects the climate crisis to the social, racial and environmental issues in which it is deeply entangled.

The concept also recognises the disproportionate impacts of climate change on low-income communities around the world, the people and places least responsible for the problem.

In September 2022, Reuters reported that African leaders called for their counterparts from richer, polluting nations to increase funding for projects to help them adapt to climate change.

It said countries on the continent were seeking to raise $25 billion in investments in the next three years for adaptation projects, including improving agricultural resilience and updating infrastructure.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) also came up with a funding solution that would enable rich countries to reallocate part of their Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to low-income countries through multilateral development banks.

The bank said such reallocation would help fund the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme to help rebuild livelihoods and boost resistance to the impact of climate change.

However, experts say addressing climate injustice should not be about financial assistance alone, but that collaboration and adaptation are also important components.

The ultimate meaning of climate justice to African nationsis captured in Macron’s first pillar: “No country should have to choose between fighting poverty and protecting the planet.”

By Kayode Adebiyi, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

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