Africa should demand justice and adequate funding at COP27

Members of the environmental organization CERIOPS take part in a mangrove restoration exercise in Mombasa. [Courtesy, CERIOPS]

The world is heading to the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh this week for the 27th World Climate Change Conference.

For a conference whose objectives include reducing carbon emissions, it would be interesting to measure the carbon footprint of the 40,000 expected guests.

To make the footprint worthwhile, the conference must secure real commitments and action on critical issues that remain unresolved. In terms of the agenda, the Global North focus is expected to push countries to invest in climate change adaptability and resilience strategies, recognizing that climate change is upon us and that we can only adapt to it, even if we invest in strategies for long-term solutions. These long-term strategies will include follow-ups to the Paris Agreement to reduce global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade, a feat now deemed impossible.

While these issues are important, African countries must join other developing countries in ensuring that programs that respond to local realities are not pushed to the margins.

The impact of climate change in Africa has been devastating. Just look at the devastating floods in parts of West Africa as the Horn of Africa, including Kenya, suffers the worst drought in decades.

For the first time in decades, even wildlife is dying in hordes, threatening the much-needed tourist industry in affected areas. These impacts of climate change continue to castigate the continent even though it is recognized that its contribution to the climate emergency is negligible.

For example, the most generous estimates of the contribution of Africa’s 1.5 billion people to global warming place it at a meager 4%. By comparison, America’s 300 billion people have contributed about 25% of the cumulative impact of global warming over the years.

Needless to say, while calls for climate change adaptation and mitigation are priorities for all, they resonate well in regions whose economies, despite their own shocks, nevertheless have enough room to invest. massively.

But for Africa, our crisis is different. Not only are we more dependent on a reliable climate, with over 70% of our population relying on agriculture, which is largely rain-fed and weather-dependent, but the continent’s budgets have no leeway to invest in mitigation, leading to huge deficits. in food production.

In the ten years since COP18, the undernourished population in Africa has increased by 46% due to poor harvests and lack of access to food and clean water. Therefore, Africa’s agenda at COP27 must focus on financing climate change adaptation and mitigation. In 2009, the global community pledged $100 billion in climate funds per year to developing countries by 2020. This figure, far from sufficient for absolute needs, has not been met despite annual commitments without end.

Even where finance was provided, it was through loans and not grants, further increasing the burden on a continent that spends more than half of its income on debt repayment. Africa’s COP27 demands must therefore focus on real commitments, including redefining climate finance as grants.

These subsidies will allow the continent to invest in greener energies and thus stop deforestation. Calling for an end to deforestation, when local people do not have access to other forms of greener energy for their basic survival, is impractical and unfair. Climate change finance will also enable the continent to invest in water efficiency, reduce reliance on rain-fed agriculture and increase food capacity.

It will make it possible to invest in post-harvest storage infrastructures in order to limit the harmful impact of bad harvests linked to the climate. Finally, the funds will facilitate increased research on drought-tolerant crops that are contextually relevant to the continent, reducing reliance on exotic crops that are unsustainable, expensive, and harmful to Africa’s ecology. In the end, it’s not about charity, it’s about justice. Africa must be unrepentant in demanding climate justice if COP27, being in an African dessert, will have any meaning for its suffering people.

About Mitchel McMillan

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