Africa climate woes, COP27 wins, misses and the way forward

People walk at the green zone of the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, during the COP27 climate conference in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of the same name, on November 9, 2022. PHOTO | AFP

COP27 marked the fifth UN Climate Change conference in Africa.

This conference was dubbed the African COP, a reflection of the weight Africans placed on this forum to highlight and find solutions to the effects of climate change in the continent.

Last year alone, every African nation felt the impact of climate-related challenges from wildfires in Algeria to catastrophic flooding in South Africa and Nigeria to the severe drought in the Horn of Africa.

All these combined experiences helped define key priorities for the continent, including a check on commitments from COP26 in Glasgow.

Some of the key tasks included delivery on finance for climate adaptation and mitigation — specifically an increase to climate financing directed to African countries to enable the transition to low-emissions and climate-resilient economies.

Financing in the form of the Loss and Damage Fund for vulnerable countries will provide the aid required to deal with climate change-related events.

The discussions throughout the various thematic sessions saw governments and the private sector address the various aspects of the climate finance ecosystem including financial instruments, tools and policies that have the potential to enhance access and scale up to green financing.

Amid the tough talks and the conflicting interests, developed countries agreed to provide funds to their developing counterparts to deal with the loss and damages due to the effects of climate change.

This was a key win for Africa, which has contributed the least to the climate crisis yet its ecosystems, people and economies are the most vulnerable and least prepared to adapt to the changes.

The challenge, however, is how the fund will be implemented and administered.

The continent must be well represented in the translation committee to ensure African interests are well articulated in the lead-up to COP28 where the translation committee recommendations are expected to be tabled for discussion and adoption.

The discussions did not make much progress in getting governments to accelerate their actions to tackle climate challenges and reduce carbon emissions.

Specifically, on climate negotiations, the more ambitious Paris Agreement temperature goal of 1.5 degrees Celcius has been weakened by its placing in the ‘science and urgency’ section.

By contrast, in the Glasgow Climate Pact, it sat alongside the solutions to the climate crisis in the ‘mitigation’ section.

As such, current scientific predictions have global temperatures set to rise by 2.4 degree Celsius over the next decade, way above what was envisaged in the Paris Agreement.

It’s critical that even with the funding, African countries and corporates keep pushing for the acceleration of the decarbonisation efforts and rewiring of the financial systems to support the continent’s climate adaptation in key sectors such as agriculture, energy, water, health and forestry to pull its population from abject poverty and the risk of starvation.

To support its efforts, Africa needs to rethink how the continent will push the developed economies to respond and recognise its needs.

Kanyingi is the Senior Manager of ESG Reporting & Assurance.

Bundi is the Manager of ESG Reporting and Climate Risk Specialist.

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