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Monday, December 4, 2023

African negotiators pledge to uphold climate justice principles

The African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN) has pledged to continue upholding the principles of climate justice and fairness as espoused in the the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR–RC) principle.

Ephraim Mwepya Shitima
AGN Chair, Ephraim Mwepya Shitima

CBDR–RC acknowledges the different capabilities and differing responsibilities of individual countries in addressing climate change.

Speaking at a catholic church organised climate awareness meeting based on Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, AGN Chair, Ephraim Mwepya Shitima, said the Pope’s message “On care for our common home” resonates with the principle of fairness as articulated in the UNFCCC convention, which the African group endeavours to uphold at all times in the negotiation process.

Laudato Si’, the encyclical of Pope Francis has the subtitle “On care for our common home” in which the Pope critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, laments environmental degradation and global warming, and calls all people of the world to take “swift and unified global action”.

Since its publication in 2015, Laudato Si’ has become a key reference point and call for global action on climate change.

“We cannot agree more with Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation when he characterises ‘climate change as one of the principal challenges facing society and the global community’,” said Shitima during a meeting with Catholic clergy, youths and private sector players in Lusaka, Zambia, on Saturday, October 7, 2023. The awareness event was held under the theme, “Let justice and peace flow.”

“As we lead Africa at COP28 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) later this year, the inspirational words of Pope Francis will ring in our ears to ensure that COP28 accelerates the just energy transitions in order to ensure that the more than 600 million Africans without access to any form of energy can have some hope of their fortunes changing for the better. We will also work tirelessly to ensure that the fund to support poor countries who suffer loss and damage due to extreme weather events, is made operational with simplified and streamlined access modalities,” added Shitima, highlighting some of Africa’s priorities at COP28.

At COP27 and in the lead up to COP28, AGN has been highlighting the right to sustainable development, just transitions, equitable multiple pathways, and fairness as important principles and considerations to unlock needed ambition in developing countries.

As the global conversation on the just transition gains momentum, the narrative that Africa has repeatedly made is the importance of safeguarding the policy space for developing countries recording the lowest progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the provision of means of implementation.

The argument is that the Just transition work programme must recognise and provide the policy space and support in consideration of the continent’s unique needs and development circumstances and urgent needs to ensure a fair and equitable shift to low-carbon and climate resilient development pathways.

Earlier, Reverand Father Gabriel Mapulanga, Caritas Zambia National Director, called for all development partners to collaborate with the Church as they mobilise for climate action.

Fr. Mapulanga believes the church has the structures and personnel to reach the remotest communities and individuals with the message of climate action.

“We need to speak to each other more and the change we desire can easily be achieved,” said Fr. Mapulanga. “For instance, in the Catholic Church, we have the structures that guarantee us reaching the remotest communities and individuals with the message calling for collective climate action,” he added.

And in a show of support for one of the key principles in the Laudato si, on ecological economics (the need to balance profits with care for the environment), the Zambia Industrial Commercial Bank is working with the church to promote a clean cooking stove https://www.gei-power.com/clean-cooking-solution/ as an alternative to charcoal and other wood fuels.

“We are committed to environmental sustainability and stewardship as we believe that success must not come at the expense of environmental sustainability. One of the flagship activities is the launch of a sustainable cooking solution by our partners, GEI Energy, aimed at curbing deforestation,” said Ignatius Mwanza, ZICB Chief Executive Officer. “We are also actively working in communities, highlighting the importance of environmental sustainability in their daily activities such as sustainable agriculture,” Mwanza added.

To support energy transition towards a low carbon, resilient, resource efficient and socially inclusive economy, the Zambian government is currently developing a Green Growth Strategy and a Climate Change Bill to provide a robust legal framework to national climate change response.

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