Pay up, Africa tells developed nations ahead of COP23

Nov 03, 2017
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Timo Shihepo

Windhoek – As the global community prepares to meet for the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) in Germany next week, Africa’s message to Developed Countries is clear “Pay up, we want to mitigate and adapt to effects of climate change.

Africa, which has barely caused climate change on the continent, is the most affected area in the world and its demand for developed countries to pay money to developing countries to combat climate change is vindicated.

Even today, during a period of unprecedented industrialisation on the continent, Africa accounts for less than 4 percent of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, which experts say are severely responsible for global warming.

According to the 2017 Honest Accounts report: “How the world profits from Africa’s wealth”, the continent uses around US$10.6 billion a year to adapt to climate change. The continent pays this staggering amount despite the fact that climate change is a process which has been overwhelmingly caused by richer industrialised and industrialising countries.

Africa, a continent that has barely contributed to climate change, has been forking out huge sums of money to battle the problem and continues to bear a disproportionate burden.

There is even a greater cost to African countries who use about $26 billion annually to mitigate climate change. These costs are included since they entail expenditure – a loss of resources – by Africa for processes, which it has largely not been responsible for.

Africa is expected to continue being among continents hardest hit by climate change, with an increase in severe droughts, floods and storms expected to threaten the health of its populations and economies.

Speaking to The Southern Times ahead of COP 23, Namibia’s Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta said Namibia and other developing countries’ position heading to conference is very clear.

“Pay up’, that’s the message to the developed countries who are the biggest contributors to the effects of climate change,” he said.

Shifeta said Africa and other developing countries need to see developed countries deliver on their commitments so that the developing world can start, and some of them continue, with the process of adaptation and mitigation.

He added that the developing world produces little greenhouse gas emissions compared to the developed countries yet it is the developing world that suffers the most. Part of that vulnerability is simply down to geography – already the hottest continent  Africa is expected to warm up to 1.5 times faster than the global average, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the recognised global authority on climate science.

“We also want to see the developed countries reducing the gas emissions. We get reports from these countries but we want honest reports to see that they are really moving towards the goal of combating climate change. Although these reports are audited, sometimes it is very difficult to see what’s really going on in the developed countries. Honesty is what we ask from them,” said Shifeta.

Shifeta has also called for the acceleration of the implementation of the Paris Agreement towards the contribution of US$100 billion to the global climate fund to help adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change by 2020.

All southern African countries’ presidents who attend the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in September have also called for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris climate agreement or Paris Climate Accord is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.

The language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015.

The agreement aims to respond to the global climate change threat by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Developed countries had initially previously favoured the target of keeping the global temperature rise this century to 2 degrees Celsius but developing countries, including 54 from Africa, said that the target should be 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Shifeta also revealed that Namibia will use the COP 23 to lobby for more support to host the African Regional Hub of the Green Climate Fund. It will be the second time that Namibia is bidding to host such a hub after the country also bid to host the world headquarters of the Green Climate. It came second to South Korea in the bidding process.

President Hage Geingob also lobbied support for the country to host the African hub at the UN General Assembly this year.

“The African Regional Hub of the Green Climate Fund is still very part our mandate. We are still waiting on the board to make a decision. We will also continue to lobby for support. At the moment we are not aware of any country challenging us instead what we have received is support from many African countries to host this hub,” said Shifeta.

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