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Climate change negotiations – Africa demands action and sincerity

By Neto Nengomasha
Southern African News Features SANF 16 no 53, November 2016

The ongoing climate change negotiations in Marrakesh, Morocco provides an opportunity for Africa to present its common position with clear priority areas on climate resilience.
The position by Africa is similar to that of southern Africa which favours adaptation over mitigation and it highlights that the measures for achieving this include finance, technology transfer and capacity building.
One of the critical issues Africa wants discussed at the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the need for developed countries to fulfil their financial pledges on climate resilience.
Article 9 of the Paris Agreement states that “developed country Parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention.”
The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), held earlier this year to prepare for COP 22, reaffirmed the position that developed countries have an obligation to provide adequate, predictable and sustainable climate finance to assist developing countries in respect to both mitigation and adaptation activities.
However, although the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 clearly highlights the need for efficient access to financial resources through simplified approval procedures and enhanced support for developing countries, past experience has shown that developed countries are failing to live up to their commitments.
Since the establishment of the Green Climate Fund, Africa has been facing a major challenge of accessing financial resources for resilience, mainly as a result of stringent conditions imposed by developed countries.
African Development Bank president, Akinwumi Adesina said the existing climate financing architecture does not provide the finance that Africa needs.
“Much more needs to be done to increase Africa’s access to climate finance,” he said.
Adesina pointed out that although Africa contributes less than three percent of the global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, the continent continues to suffer the most from the effects of climate change.
The deputy director responsible for climate change issues in the Zimbabwean Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, Veronica Gundu said simplified access to the Green Climate Fund by developing countries forms the core of issues that Africa wants discussed at COP 22.
AMCEN, therefore, is pushing for the development of a concrete roadmap for developed countries to deliver on their pledge to provide US$100 billion annually by 2020 for climate resilience.
The ministers, however, noted that the US$100 billion is well below the scale of financial resources required to implement the convention and Paris Agreement.
In particular, Africa wants developed countries to provide finance, technology development and transfer and capacity building to enable countries to adequately address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts.
Africa is also calling for deeper cuts in emissions beyond 2020, and want developed countries to take the lead in this regard so that the world can be on a pathway consistent with the pledge for temperature increases that are below 1.5°C.
The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, which is 30 days after the date on which at least 55 parties to the convention deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with UNFCCC Secretariat.
For the Paris Agreement to come into force at least 55 parties – which should account for more than 55 percent of the total GHG emissions – should have ratified the agreement.
As of 9 November 2016, a total of 102 Parties had ratified the agreement.
In southern Africa, all the island states have already ratified the Paris Agreement. Mauritius was the first to deposit its instrument of ratification on 22 April 2016, the same date when the agreement was opened for signature, with Seychelles ratifying a few days later, on the 29th of April. Madagascar deposited its instruments of ratification and acceptance on 21 September.
The short time these island states have taken to ratify the agreement demonstrates the urgency required to take action so as to respond to the devastating impacts of climate change.
Other countries that have ratified the agreement in SADC are Namibia and Swaziland, which both deposited their instruments of ratification on 21 September while South Africa ratified on 1 November.
COP 22 comes at a time when southern Africa has just experienced one of the worst droughts which was severe and widespread in the 2015/16 agricultural season. According to the SADC Regional Situation Update on the 2015/16 drought, at least 39 million people, about 13 percent of the population of the region, are food-insecure this year as a result of the poor farming season. Shortened by Ed.

About The Author

SADC Correspondent

SADC correspondents are independent contributors whose work covers regional issues of southern Africa outside the immediate Namibian ambit. Ed.