Africa to push devel­op­ment agenda at up­com­ing cli­mate sum­mit

Lead­ers will draw up an ac­tion plan

Africa Renewal - - Contents - By Dan Shep­ard

There is no coun­try in the world that has been un­af­fected by cli­mate change, and no con­ti­nent in the world has been more af­fected than Africa – and that state of af­fairs ap­pears un­likely to change any­time soon.

If global emis­sions con­tinue on their present path, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est re­port by the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change, Africa will heat up even faster than the global land av­er­age, and the tem­per­a­ture on the con­ti­nent will rise by more than 2°C well be­fore the end of the 21st cen­tury. Rain­fall pat­terns will con­tinue to change and cli­mate change is ex­pected to place even more stress on places that are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing wa­ter scarcity now.

“We are all aware of the lat­est find­ings of the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change,” said UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon at the June sum­mit of the African Union in Mal­abo, Equa­to­rial Guinea. “To meet the full scale of the cli­mate chal­lenge and seize the op­por­tu­ni­ties, we need an in­ter­na­tional frame­work that will sup­port ac­cel­er­ated ac­tion by all na­tions and all sec­tors,” said Mr. Ban, who will host a sum­mit on cli­mate change in Septem­ber in New York.

The sum­mit will be held a year ahead of the 2015 sum­mit at which na­tions are ex­pected to con­clude a global agree­ment on cli­mate change.

At­ten­tion to the is­sue at the high­est lev­els has waned since the world failed to reach a univer­sal agree­ment in Copen­hagen, Den­mark, in 2009.

For the Septem­ber sum­mit, Mr. Ban has called on lead­ers from gov­ern­ment, busi­ness, fi­nance and civil so­ci­ety to an­nounce bold ac­tions and ini­tia­tives that will make a dif­fer­ence in ei­ther re­duc­ing emis­sions or build­ing re­silience to cli­mate change. The sum­mit will not be a ne­go­ti­a­tion forum nor will the dis­cus­sions be part of the ne­go­ti­a­tions of the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change ( UNFCCC), a global en­vi­ron­men­tal treaty. Rather, the out­come will be a host of ac­tion plans to be an­nounced at the end of the one-day sum­mit.

While African coun­tries have long main­tained that they are vic­tims of a prob­lem that is not of their mak­ing, African ne­go­tia­tors and lead­ers have em­pha­sized that they also view cli­mate change as an op­por­tu­nity to ad­vance their devel­op­ment agen­das. “You don’t have to go to school to see the im­pact of cli­mate change in Africa,” says Fa­tima Den­ton, Co­or­di­na­tor of the African Cli­mate Pol­icy Cen­tre at the Ethiopia-based UN Economic Com­mis­sion for Africa. “We are all in­ti­mately aware of the wa­ter deficits and floods,” she said, adding that the sum­mit would be about op­por­tu­ni­ties, not just vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. “We need to turn the prob­lem of cli­mate change on its head” and take ad­van­tage of op­por­tu­ni­ties for Africa to lead, such as on de­for­esta­tion, tech­nol­ogy trans­fer, and car­bon se­ques­tra­tion, which is a process un­der which car­bon diox­ide is re­moved from the at­mos­phere and stored in a reser­voir. “The ‘Africa Ris­ing’ nar­ra­tive will be a short-lived one un­less we ad­dress cli­mate change.”

Abra­ham Tekeste, the state min­is­ter for fi­nance and economic devel­op­ment of Ethiopia, said his coun­try’s economic trans­for­ma­tion ef­forts “were embed­ded in com­mit­ments to re­duce its car­bon foot­print through a ‘ cli­mate re­silient green econ­omy’ strat­egy.” He said that Ethiopia was work­ing to con­trib­ute to global ef­forts to mit­i­gate cli­mate change by har­ness­ing sources of re­new­able en­ergy. He ex­pressed con­fi­dence that the Septem­ber sum­mit would send a strong mes­sage that could mo­bi­lize sup­port to ex­pe­dite cli­mate ne­go­ti­a­tions.

But there is also a de­sire for the sum­mit to de­liver more than a mes­sage. Ac­cord­ing to the spokesper­son for the African Group in the UNFCCC ne­go­ti­a­tions, Seyni Nafo of Mali, the sum­mit will pro­vide coun­tries with the op­por­tu­nity to sug­gest their plans of ac­tion. “It’s a pos­i­tive agenda. It will bring very con­crete ini­tia­tives, not just state­ments but am­bi­tious ini­tia­tives. It’s very help­ful.”

But at­ten­dance of world lead­ers was es­sen­tial, he said. “It sends a strong sig­nal for next year. If key play­ers come to New York, there could be a strong and am­bi­tious out­come. It would be a good sign for us. Good at­ten­dance

could make a dif­fer­ence.” Many African lead­ers are ex­pected to at­tend, led by Tan­za­nian Pres­i­dent Jakaya Kik­wete, the co­or­di­na­tor of the African po­si­tion on cli­mate change.

African coun­tries are look­ing to the sum­mit to help raise the pro­file of cli­mate change at the high­est level, Safo said. “It has to put cli­mate change on the in­ter­na­tional agenda with a cap­i­tal ‘A’”. Not since Copen­hagen, he said, have lead­ers come to­gether to ad­dress the is­sue. “The sum­mit puts cli­mate change back on the ta­ble.”

Africa will also be lis­ten­ing for indi­ca­tions of a will­ing­ness to help cap­i­tal­ize the Green Cli­mate Fund, a UNFCCC mech­a­nism that fa­cil­i­tates the trans­fer of money from donors to poor coun­tries to help them mit­i­gate the ef­fects of cli­mate change. Mr. Nafo said a num­ber of coun­tries had in­di­cated that they viewed the sum­mit as the place for lead­ers to make pledges. “This is a ma­jor ex­pec­ta­tion for us,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Nafo, a num­ber of ini­tia­tives iden­ti­fied at the prepara­tory meet­ing in the United Arab Emi­rates cap­i­tal of Abu Dhabi in May could also ad­dress the fi­nance gap be­fore 2020, when the new agree­ment goes into ef­fect. The ini­tia­tives, he said, helped broaden ac­tion by in­clud­ing all in­ter­ested par­ties, in­clud­ing busi­ness and fi­nance. “The only way to meet the chal­lenge is through a broad coali­tion.”

The ini­tia­tives cover a range of ar­eas that in­clude re­new­able en­ergy, en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, agri­cul­ture, cities, forests, cities, trans­port, pol­lu­tants and fi­nance. Some of th­ese ini­tia­tives would di­rectly im­pact African devel­op­ment ef­forts, such as an ini­tia­tive to build a clean en­ergy cor­ri­dor in East Africa. Mr. Nafo said there was par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in ini­tia­tives on en­ergy ac­cess and poverty through the Sus­tain­able En­ergy for All pro­gramme. The key, he said, was to see how the part­ner­ships will be im­ple­mented and what they will achieve.

Still, Mr. Nafo said, there is a long way yet to go. “We need a sus­tained ef­fort. We can’t just have a one- off event,” adding that it may pay to have pe­ri­odic cli­mate change sum­mits. “Cli­mate change is so im­por­tant for devel­op­ment that there is a need for lead­ers to en­gage with all stake­hold­ers ev­ery two years or so.”

World Bank / Dana Smillie

A wind tur­bine farm in Tu­nisia.

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