The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 has come and gone with a breakthrough agreement to provide “loss and damage” funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters.
However many opportunities abound for Africa and its aviation industry which it has to position itself to take advantage of. They are not to be ignored in trade negotiations as Africa increases its fleet of planes and allows exploitation of her natural resources, which are an input in the transition to climate friendly production.
About 200 countries were reported to have struck a deal to set up a loss and damage fund to assist nations worst hit by climate change. This was a demand considered not-negotiable by the developing countries. Quoting the United Nations chief who was favourably disposed to the fund: “I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period. Clearly, this will not be enough, but it is a much-needed political signal to rebuild broken trust.”
The previous global climate summit took place in Glasgow, Scotland last year. Now developing countries, which had done little to cause the climate crisis, arrived with a determination to win a commitment from rich nations to compensate them for this damage. There were also efforts towards enhancing financial support for adaptation to avert, minimise and address climate change impacts in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
During negotiations, it was reported that Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, also the COP27 President, stated that climate finance remains key for Africa since the continent contributes 4 percent to global emissions and is adversely affected to a much higher degree by global warming-related events. Also deliberations continued on setting a ‘new collective quantified goal on climate finance’ in 2024, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries.
The 2022 UNEP’s Adaptation Gap Report, released on the sidelines of COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, reports that Africa requires $7 billion to $15 billion annually to enhance adaptation to climate change besides the nearly $3 trillion investment that is needed to implement nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and cap emissions in line with the Paris climate deal.
Now, international adaptation finance flows to developing countries are reported to be 5-10 times below estimated needs and the gap is reportedly widening. Estimated annual adaptation needs are USD $160 billion to $340 billion by 2030 and $315 billion to $565 billion by 2050.
The African Economic Outlook of the African Development Bank states that financing African countries’ nationally determined contributions – public pledges from countries on how they plan to play a part in post-2020 collective action on climate change – will require up to $1.6 trillion between 2022 and 2030. The continent also reportedly loses between 5% and 15% of gross domestic product to climate change. Collectively, African countries were reported to have received only $18.3 billion in climate finance between 2016 and 2019. This leaves a reported climate finance gap of up to $1288.2 billion annually from 2020 to 2030.
The report titled, Supporting Climate Resilience and a Just Energy Transition in Africa, highlights the growing threat climate change poses to lives and livelihoods in Africa. It underlined the need for African countries to take advantage of opportunities presented by the green transition and climate change. Now Africa is home to most of the world’s green development minerals, including lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, rare earth, copper, aluminium, and other natural resources and these resources present Africa with huge potential to lead the world in the emerging climate-resilient development markets.
Also, Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. With 1.4 billion people as of 2021, it accounts for about 18% of the world’s human population and has a fast growing youth population.
So, in the aviation industry value chain, Africa has a lot to offer especially in the metals that go into the production process for aircraft and airport infrastructure such as scanners, cameras, and even vehicles and fire trucks used in the airports.
Just as developing nations have found a voice in negotiating climate finance at COP 27, the industry needs to realise that it has resources, size and numbers to negotiate trade deals that would result in lower costs, better quality aviation machines and equipment and even value adding production processes that will grow the GDP of the continent and the aviation industry at the same time.
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