BY Onome Amuge.
As the world gets set for the 27th edition of the United Nations climate change conference (COP27) scheduled for 7-18 November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, experts have recommended that African policymakers, climate leaders and citizens take urgent action to articulate Africa’s case ahead of the global climate debate.
The recommendation is contained in the 2022 Ibrahim Forum Report released by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation recently.
The report, ‘The Road to COP27: Making Africa’s Case in the Global Climate Debate’, draws on the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s latest research, and on the essential arguments advanced during the 2022 Ibrahim Governance Forum debates between experts, policymakers and African youth held on 25-27 May, 2022.
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It outlines key facts and figures and 15 recommendations and insights from leading energy experts and practitioners on how policymakers, climate leaders and African citizens can articulate Africa’s case in the global climate debate.
This comes as Africa has in recent years been hard hit by extreme climate change effects, which have seen the continent emerge as the most drought-affected region and the second most flooded area in the world, despite producing historically low carbon emission and contributing the least to the global climate crisis in comparison to more industrialised continents such as Europe and Asia.
The 2022 Ibrahim Forum Report provides a comprehensive analysis of the specificity of Africa’s context in the global climate debate: how the climate crisis impacts in Africa intersect with pre-existing social and development issues; the challenge of balancing access to energy and climate protection; and considers Africa’s key assets and potential role in a global low carbon future. Its key recommendations include:
– Taking Africa’s specific climate vulnerabilities into account at the global level and addressing the interaction between climate development and security challenges instead of continuously working in silos and missing opportunities to address how these challenges intersect.
– The global climate debate shouldn’t focus on mitigation alone in achieving net-zero emissions, but should also prioritise adaptation measures and increase focus on adaptation and “loss and damage” compensation.
– African countries should invest in resilience by creating clear adaptation investment plans, stepping up data capacity, prioritising investments in early warning systems, disaster risk reduction and climate-resilient infrastructure to prevent loss and damage to lives, livelihoods and critical infrastructure.
– Global development goals should be well balanced in terms of energy access and energy security which includes improving Africa’s energy access as over 600 million Africans still lack access to energy.
– Consider gas as a key transitional fuel, to be developed in parallel with renewables to address the continent’s energy gap.
– Whether for gas or renewables, energy producers should look beyond just production alone, but rather, focus more on storage, transport and distribution infrastructure. Affordability, relevant market sizes, maintenance capacities must also be addressed to attract needed investments and tackle access challenges.
– Replacing polluting cooking fuels such as firewood or charcoal with cleaner gas (LPG) or electricity is key from both a health and climate perspective. However, a transition to clean cooking fuels must be a bottom-up process and take local contexts into account.
– Assess Africa’s huge potential wealth in green and sustainable economies, raise awareness of Africa’s assets and Africa’s ability to be a key stakeholder of a global green economy and not just a victim of the climate crisis, and leverage Africa’s collective bargaining power as a key sovereign owner of ecosystems and assets that are essential for a low-carbon future at global level.
– African countries should be duly compensated for the preservation of their abundant carbon-sequestration potential, which are global assets that need to be monetised, considering that the continent is not only the lowest per capita carbon-emitter, but also home to key carbon sinks.
– Move from exporting raw commodities to local processing, in order to upscale local business and employment. Governments should also put governance at the forefront in defining the relevant measures to upgrade the value chain of commodities, avoid corruption, tackle ecological disasters, human rights violations and resource-driven conflicts, and include them from the beginning in the management of Africa’s ecological and mineral assets.
– Africa must be on par with other global actors at COP27, which can be achieved if African leaders can define, present and negotiate a common narrative for international negotiations, as Africa’s position cannot be reduced to one or two countries’ specific situations.
– Africa’s partners should implement pledges that have already been made at previous summits before committing to new ones.
– The link between carbon emissions and the climate crisis should be recognised and monetised. Adaptation and loss and damage mechanisms should be fully implemented so that the biggest emitters take relevant responsibility for the climate crisis.
– Adopt a wide range of integrated and innovative financial solutions to address the link between climate and debt and increase the mobilisation of Africa’s domestic resources, leveraging pension and sovereign funds and strengthening tax systems.
– Climate literacy should be developed and debate should highlight the impact on people’s daily lives and livelihoods.
Commenting on the 15 recommendations, Mo Ibrahim, founder and chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, noted that the current climate agenda is failing Africa as over 600 million Africans still lack access to electricity, equivalent to twice the total US population.
“With COP27 fast approaching, we must not repeat the mistake of overlooking Africa’s specificity, both negative and positive, in the assessment of challenges and choice of solutions. The recommendations put forward in this report offer a blueprint to reshape the climate debate, ensure it takes into account Africa’s specific context, and acknowledge Africa’s key role in global climate solutions,” Ibrahim said.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation noted that by taking the highlighted recommendations on board, policymakers can ensure that going forward, climate commitments take into account the continent’s specific context, including Africa’s economic development path, and acknowledge the important role the continent can play globally.