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Africa Not In Paris ‘With Begging Bowl’

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President Muhammadu Buhari (right), UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, French President, François Hollande (second left) and other officials at the opening of the climate change conference in Paris, France

President Muhammadu Buhari (right), UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, French President, François Hollande (second left) and other officials at the opening of the climate change conference in Paris, France

AFRICA is by far the least emitter, but more than any other region, the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate changes. Major emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2), the more affluent nations, have been failing in their commitments and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP21 in Paris might be proving no exception. Reason the Beninoise President. Mr. Yayi Boni, was unequivocal that the continent is not at the negotiating table with a begging bowl.

At the official opening of the Africa Pavilion in Paris on Friday, Boni insisted that: “Africa did not come here (COP21) to beg for money or assistance, but to bring about commitment of all concerned to Africa’s adaptation needs.

“The adaptation and mitigation needs of the continent are not aid, but an equity issue because climate change is a global phenomenon not caused by Africa. The time to act is now; the house is burning.”

Boni’s alarm mirror’s African dilemma in successive conferences. Climate change constitutes a major threat to the continent’s development, and has major implications and impacts on African economies. Climate extremes such as drought, flooding, heat waves and tropical cyclones are intensifying in frequency and intensity. Rising sea levels will threaten Africa’s large coastal population with agriculture, tourism, cities, water levels, health, energy and fisheries all likely to be impacted.

According to United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), COP 21 may mark a decisive stage in negotiations of the future international agreement on climate change.

“Africa’s message for this Summit is clear: we need a legally binding agreement with a global governance framework, applicable to all parties that balance the issues of adaptation, mitigation, provide adequate finance as well as technology development and transfer. The new Agreement must commit to reduction of greenhouse emissions to achieve well below 2 degree Celsius, ensure the principle of common, but differentiated responsibility, social justice, equity and African must speak with one unified voice,” African Union Commission Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, urged in a statement by the ECA.

Mrs. Dlamini-Zuma once noted in the ‘Agenda 2063’ that Africa’s commitment to define development path for the next 50 years that: “The Africa we want is a sustainable and low carbon path. Through Agenda 2063 we want to ensure not only that we mitigate and adapt to climate change, but also do so in a manner that build African capacities, researches, institutions and most importantly –– whether it is in agriculture and agro-processing or in renewable energy –– to ensure that these initiatives contribute towards development on the continent, creating the much needed livelihoods and jobs for our young people and women,” she emphasized.

President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Mr. Adesina Akinwumi, stressed that “COP21 can only be considered successful if it meets the needs of our continent. Africa is the continent suffering the most from the scotching heat from rising temperatures and droughts have become more frequent and with greater intensity than ever before. Africa needs more money for adaptation. The continent has been short-changed by climate change. But we must ensure that it is not short-changed by climate finance. AfDB will triple its climate finance to $5bn a year by 2020.”

At the start of the Paris conference, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director, Ms. Christine Lagarde had buttressed the point of the Africans when she stressed that climate change harms more the poor countries economy. Africa is currently home to the world’s 10 poorest countries.

Over 160 countries have submitted emissions mitigation pledges, called the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), for the conference. If implemented, these commitments will substantially reduce projected future warming, though may not be enough to meet the internationally agreed 2Oc target. Agreeing on a legal framework for assessing progress on, and updating, these pledges are also crucial.

Under climate finance, advanced countries pledged to mobilise funds rising to $100bn a year by 2020, from public and private sources, for climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. Flows in 2014 have been estimated at $62bn.

Lagarde had always advocated removal of subsidies, particularly on oil. A position that would mean higher energy prices, with attendant adverse impact in poor countries. But admitting that higher energy prices burden households and the impact on the poor would remain a particular concern, she explained that: “Holding down energy prices is a highly inefficient way to help them, because 90 percent or more of the benefits typically leaks away to higher income groups. Instead, these groups are better helped through targeted measures such as stronger social safety nets, which require only a fraction of the revenues from carbon pricing. The focus should be on the distributional impact of the whole policy package, not only the component that raises energy prices.”

In choosing mitigation instruments, the IMF boss said the success of Paris conference will hinge critically on carbon dioxide (CO2) mitigation in large emitter countries. “Carbon pricing should be centerpiece of climate mitigation efforts, but choosing the right instrument, and designing it to suit national conditions, are critical for meeting mitigation objectives at lowest cost. The key practical issue is what policy instruments are best suited for progression INDCs and how they should be designed,” she said.

In Africa, renewable energy systems may offer an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the transition to modern energy services and to increase energy access. This has a ripple effect on job creation, women empowerment and economic development.

This was reinforced by the Executive Secretary of ECA, Mr. Carlos Lopes, who said the continent is well endowed with all forms of renewable energy resources –– hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and even marine energy. “Yet, today we are in a situation where the total installed electricity capacity in Africa is only about 160 gigawatts.  By comparison, this is just over half of Japan’s installed capacity. If we take out North Africa and South Africa, the installed capacity in the rest of Africa is less than that of South Africa. Given the abundant renewable energy resources of Africa, the energy mix of the continent is still dominated by fossil fuels (gas, coal and oil), with renewables making only 22 power of the installed capacity, dominated by hydropower.”


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