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COP26: Demand for liability, payments for carbon debts, African govts told

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has called on African governments and delegates to COP26 holding in Glasgow, Scotland to be resolute in their demand for climate change liability and payments for carbon debts by rich countries.

Scottish Event Campus
The Scottish Event Campus (SEC), main venue of COP26

ERA/FoEN, in a statement made available to EnviroNews on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, noted that, in recent times, rich countries showed some appreciable effort to address climate change with a few countries such as the USA, Germany and the United Kingdom taking the lead in renewed pledges to the UNFCCC climate fund to address mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries.

But ERA/FoEN, insisted that rich countries’ efforts so far have grossly fallen short of expectations and are unlikely to be on target to close the gap on limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. A recent UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report warns that unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6 per cent each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

According to Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, to secure ambitious outcome, there is the need to address the lack of equity and fairness in addressing climate change impacts.

Dr. Ojo noted that catastrophic events due to the impact of climate change compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic have continued to buffet vulnerable countries especially in Africa.

He stated that, given the rate of fiscal responsibility and allocations in addressing climate events in Europe and America and the robust response to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is an undeniable dichotomy between the rich and poor countries that betray the lack of equity and fairness in addressing these issues in the developing countries.

“According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, climate change impact will continue to be on the rise and with growing intensity hence the need for urgency.

“Firstly, the pledge to mobilising $100 billion annually by 2020-2025 as funds to addressing climate change actions stands at about 30% and is nowhere near its mark. Therefore, the Earth Summit meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow should be a rallying moment for rich counties to step up their commitments and show solidarity by walking the talk and putting their money where their mouth is.

“Secondly, COP26 provides the opportunity to amplify system change and a transition from carbonised economy and fossil fuels dependence to renewable energy. Developing countries should redouble their stand to demand for a fair, just, and equitable energy transition and the climate finance to address climate change. There is the need to end addiction to fossil fuels, discard the false solution of net zero, and enthrone system change in the modes of production and consumption while plugging the widening gap of social inequalities at national levels and on a global scale.

“COP26 should not be a process to reinforce energy colonialism on Africa but should liberate the continent’s energy potentials through cleaner technology and finance.  Africa with low technology intake should not be taken advantage of or seen as a market expansion opportunism for developed countries’ renewable energy sector that is out-competing to dumping of obsolete technologies and petrol-diesel combustion engines.

“While the future ban or elimination of combustion engines production and use in some European countries from 2025 onwards is commendable, it should be clear how these obsolete technologies, cars and combustion engines will be disposed of or recycled. Africa should not be the dumping ground or receptacle for such technologies that could be shipped to it as Greek gifts or forms of development aid. In the words of an activist, ‘you cannot set fire in my house and sell fire extinguisher to me.’

“Thirdly, there is the need for African governments and delegates to demand loudly that greenhouse gas emissions is a financial debt and be resolute in the demand for the immediate payment of the Carbon Debt from the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by rich countries. This debt is part of the transitional justice demands for fairness, compensation and reparation for the monumental harm done to the environment some of which are irreversible.

“African delegates should ensure to speak with one voice to demand transitional justice in the payment of carbon debts currently put at 334 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. According to a recent study, the world’s leading polluters have racked up a US$10 trillion carbon debt for carbon dioxide emissions since 1990. This demand for carbon debt payment is sacrosanct and does not deflect from the $100 billion commitment for climate actions.”

“According to scientific evidence, rich countries contribution of carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere account for 70% inclusive of 20% from the USA, while Africa contributes only 4% of the carbon dioxide. Further, the impact of climate change and Covid-19 pandemic and their impacts on escalating the debt service burden on African states is horrendous. This necessitates the call for debt cancellation for developing countries. Africa should be united to restate that she has been short-changed and has no debt to pay because on the balance, it owes no debt.”

“Fourthly, African delegates should demand for transitional justice and reparation from loss and damage due to climate change. Addressing loss and damage should be immediate akin to the manner rich countries worked to tackle climate change impacts and Covid-19 pandemic in France, Germany, United Kingdom and United States to mention but a few. Making the poor to pay for climate change loss and damage through any form of insurance policy amounts to double jeopardy in the victimization of the poor and vulnerable groups,” ERA/FoEN stated.

The environmental rights organisation further disclosed that the historical carbon emissions released into the atmosphere jeopardises economic development of developing countries who must forgo their economic resources especially tarsands, coal, oil and gas potentials to combating climate change.

The organisation added that it is “highly commendable that the UK government as host, has taken the decision to end support for fossil fuels sector overseas. This means that the government will no longer support the development of fossil fuel sector overseas including end to export finance and credits, funding for new crude oil, natural gas and coal projects overseas.

“Other developed and developing countries should embrace this UK policy while paying for the costs of alternative pathway in renewable energy options and the avoidance of potential carbon emissions from the production and consumption of such harmful development model,” ERA/FoEN concluded.

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