Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged the U.S. to support the call for a just global transition to net-zero emissions and lead the effort to ensure easy access to COVID-19 vaccine by all countries.
The vice president also called on U.S. to generally reset its foreign policy agenda with the African continent in ways that would bring about economic prosperity, increased security and improved governance.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Monday, April 19, 2021 in Abuja, said the vice president delivered a speech virtually at the 2021 Johns Hopkins University’s African Studies Programme Conference.
The conference, with the theme “Africa-U.S. Re-engagement: A New Foreign Policy Agenda,” was organised by the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), of the university.
“The U.S. and Africa should work together to tackle climate change and moderate global warming including through an energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies.
”African countries have made commitments in this regard towards implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement targets.
“Given the long term commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050, there is a growing trend among development finance institutions to withdraw from fossil fuel investment,” he said.
According to him, this includes the World Bank’s decision to cease funding for upstream oil and gas development.
“And, the new restrictions on financing downstream gas development currently being considered by the European Union, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States.
“While well-intentioned, this move does not take into account the principles of common but differentiated responsibility and leaving no one behind, that are enshrined into global treaties around sustainable development and climate action.
“The U.S. must lend its weight to stopping this manifestly unfair trend that can undermine the sense of collective responsibility we all have towards mitigating climate change; what is required is a just transition to zero emissions.”
Osinbajo had in recent times advocated a just transition to net-zero emissions, particularly calling on multilateral agencies, and western countries to stop the planned defunding of gas projects in developing countries.
The vice president commended the U.S. for helping to improve healthcare outcomes in Africa including through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief (PEPFAR).
He called for the same spirit of collaboration with regard to making COVID-19 vaccines available to African countries.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need to coordinate actions to prevent and tackle pandemics while also building up public health infrastructure in developed and developing countries alike.
“This is not a time for vaccine nationalism and export bans but rather of working together towards universal vaccination against the disease.
“The U.S. can lead in the effort to ensure that all countries and their peoples can access vaccines irrespective of the resources available to them,” he said.
According to Osinbajo, the reviewed cooperation with the continent should promote a partnership that brings about economic prosperity, increased security, combats disease, improves governance and mitigates climate change.
He said that Africa was in many ways the last frontier for economic development as it had the potential to be a global growth pole.
“Indeed, as other parts of the world are looking inwards, Africa is moving confidently to integrate its economies through the African Union Agenda 2063 as well as the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“The United States is well placed to lead trade and investment ties with Africa. And it has a good leg-in with the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA).
“The legislation, which removed all tariffs on 6,400 products available for export to the US, saw some African countries benefiting considerably.”
On improving the support of the U.S. in combating terrorism in the Sahel region, Osinbajo said a more robust intervention towards clearing the reign of terror in the region was desirable.
He said while it was evident that the threat of violent extremist organisations was growing, it would appear that U.S. Africa Command had since 2020 shifted from a strategy of degrading violent extremist organisations in West Africa to simply containing their spread.
“The escalation of the attacks and the synergies being created amongst these extremist groups call for a review of that position.
” It may be the moment for a more robust intervention along the lines of US-backed operations in clearing terrorists and insurgents in the Middle East,” he said.
The vice president advocated that the U.S.-Africa relations needed not be uni-dimensional.
Earlier, organisers of the conference commended the vice president for his leadership and commitment.
Prof. Elliot Cohen, Dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at the institution, expressed delight that a professor rose to the height of a vice president in any country at all.
Also, Prof. Peter Lewis, the Chair of African Studies in the university, described Osinbajo as “a figure known for his integrity, dedication, and effectiveness.”
Osinbajo also fielded questions from conference participants.
By Chijioke Okoronkwo