– As the 25th session of climate negotiations draw to an end this week, the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) have been calling on the world to consider the continent as a special case in terms of implementation of the Paris Agreement and climate finance.
- The Paris Agreement is an agreement reached at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris, France, where the world’s nations undertook a determined course to reduce climate change. Among the commitments was to reduce the increase in global temperatures.
“We have been pushing for Africa to be given special considerations given the climate-related calamities already bedevilling the continent vis-à-vis the negligible amount of greenhouse gases emitted,” Ambassador Mohamed Nasr, the AGN chair and the Head of Environmental Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, told journalists at COP25 in Madrid.
He said that that the Paris Agreement, which was passed in 2015, had little understanding or acknowledgement for Africa’s special circumstances.
- The argument is that the African continent emits a mere 4 percent of the total greenhouse gases emitted globally, yet climate-related impacts are enormous, and science has shown that the situation is only going to worsen in the near future.
“This discussion has taken some time from 2015 until last year when it became clear that the issue has to be taken forward in a more constructive approach,” said Nasr.
- In 2011, for example, the Horn of Africa region experienced a severe drought that claimed over 260,000 lives, making it one of the worst mass atrocities ever experienced in the region, according to the United Nations Dispatch.
- Another drought followed five years later in 2017, and in the first six months of 2019 there was another devastating drought in the region affecting more than 15.3 million people according to the United Nations.
Immediately after the drought, the Horn of Africa region expected a short rainy season, which usually begins in April. But this didn’t occur and instead the entire region is currently experiencing heavy downpours, which meteorological experts say is due to the warming of the Indian Ocean.
- So far, the region has had more than 300 percent above average rainfall, and this has resulted in floods, mudslides, and the collapse of buildings – which has caused the deaths to hundreds of people, while displacing thousands of households in the region.
- And when the floods eventually end, the region is expected to become a hotspot of waterborne diseases and other climate-related diseases such as malaria.
- At the same time the southern part of the continent is experiencing what farmers say is the worst drought they can remember.
- And earlier this year, Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, whose intensity and occurrence was attributed to climate change, swept through Southern Africa affecting more than 2.2 million people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
“Science has already warned that Africa was going to be the most impacted by climate change, and some of the disasters we are witnessing are just but a tip of the iceberg,” Augustine Njamnshi, a Cameroonian environmental legal expert, told IPS.
“We need funds to help our people develop resilience to these disasters, we need to give them appropriate technologies to enable them adapt, and we also need to consider that some of the problems they are experiencing are not their own making, and therefore it is injustice for them,” Njamnshi said.
A U.N. report indicates that African countries are paying between 2 to 9 percent of their GDP on adapting to climate change, a phenomenon caused by the developed world and Asian Tigers. And according to Dr James Murombedzi, a policy expert at the U.N., most of these expenditures are never budgeted for.
According to Nasr, AGN recognises last year’s scientific report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warned that on average Africa will be impacted at least 2° Celsius more than the rest of the world.
“This means that if the global temperatures rise by 1.5° Celsius, then Africa will experience 3.5, and this is a clear reason why the continent must never be treated the same way as the rest of the world,” said Nasr.
Africa Commitment to Paris Agreement
Nasr points out that despite the calamities, Africa has been at the forefront of combatting climate change, noting that African countries have submitted some of the most ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
- Under the Paris Agreement, all parties were supposed to submit their NDCs, which are a set of interventions prepared by countries to contribute to the reduction of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
“We need special financial and technical support and motivation so as to implement the NDCs in a more sustainable manner,” he said.
Africa’s Natural Resources dilemma
The experts noted that Africa is endowed with natural resources in relation to oil, gas, coal among other minerals.
“We know that the mining is one of the highly emitting industries. But at the same time we know that oil and gas are very important resources for wealth. Yet, there is a call from the international community that we should not invest in such resources,” said Nasr.
“This puts Africa in a huge dilemma because as much as we are ambitious, the socio economic indicator on the continent is very low, hence the need for special supports so as to develop in a sustainable manner,” he said.
According to Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, a senior negotiator for the Democratic Republic of Congo, it becomes an emotional issue because the continent is suffering the impacts of climate change, which it has not contributed to, and yet it has natural resources which countries are being asked not to use.
“But it is important that we put our emotions aside and instead use objective tools, and those tools are what science says. All we need is to receive means of implementation such as financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building – which are contained in the convection,” said Mpanu Mpanu, the former AGN chair.
Recommendations from last week’s technical sessions are already being presented to high-level government decision makers. Once approved, they will form a basis for climate action for the continent.
The original article can be found on the Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) site here.