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March 2, 2024
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What agenda for Africa as world leaders converge for COP28?

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Asks Usman Aliyu, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

The 28th session of the Conference of Parties (COP28) on climate change opens on Thursday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

At the conference delegates from nearly 195 countries, leaders of business and finance, representatives of civil society and climate experts will gather to fast-tracking the transition to a clean-energy future.

Burning of fossil fuels, cutting down of forests and livestock farming are said to be increasingly driving the climate change through ozone layer depletion which has resulted in higher temperatures around the world.

These human activities add enormous amounts of greenhouse gasses to those naturally occurring in the atmosphere, thereby increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming.

Therefore, COP28 will seek to stress the importance of collective action to stop climate change and the critical role of finance in the low-carbon transition, according to media reports.

Obviously, the impact of climate crisis on life on the planet earth has been unprecedented.

Scientists say temperature records have been soaring as populations globally, especially in Africa, where heat waves and droughts have escalated.

Though, it is a fact that Africa contributes negligibly to the causes of climate change, it, nonetheless, stands out disproportionately as the most vulnerable region in the world.

This vulnerability, experts observe, is driven by the prevailing low levels of socioeconomic growth in the continent.

As the conference commences, the question is: What agenda is Africa bringing to the table? What are its core interest? How does it want to push for those interests?

As the world meets for global stocktake on climate change, stakeholders from Africa expected the political outcomes at the conference to reflect the peculiarities on the continent as well as continental and sub-regional-based climate solutions.

It is expected that African negotiators would demand real solutions and not one size-fit-all climate action.

Experts observe that local leaders are considered in the outcomes at the summit.

Mr Nnimmo Bassey is the Executive Director, Home of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), calling on agenda that are hinged on principles of justice.

“As long as we can remember, the demands for Africa have not changed. These days we nearly sound like a broken record because we have been asking for the same things since the beginning of the COP.

“However, African negotiators should continue to demand for real solutions. The core demand has been that climate action must be hinged on the justice principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR). This principle demands that those whose actions have most damaged the climate should take the most action to solve it“, he said.

According to him, the implication is that they are expected to cut emissions at source and support poor vulnerable nations with finance needed for adaptation and mitigation.

“African governments should recognise the colonial base of global warming and refuse to be sucked into the false circles of market environmentalism— including carbon markets and its variants.

“They should reject the failing voluntary emissions reduction currently enshrined in the Paris Agreement and insist on binding and enforceable emissions reduction.

“From the latest Emissions Gap report released by UNEP, it is clear that if nations carry out reductions they have volunteered as Nationally Determined Contributions, the world will be heading for a devastating 3 degrees Celsius temperature increase’’, he said.

According to him this is about pre-industrial levels. The best Paris Agreement target is 1.5C and already in 2023 that target has been reached in over 80 days.

“We also demand that the loss and damage fund should not be treated as aid or charitable donations but rather as a debt that is owed and must be paid,” he said.

Bassey, a foremost environmentalist in Africa regretted that Africa could not achieve much with COP27 even though it was hosted in Africa.

He described COP27 as lost and damaged and so will the 28 edition be efforts are not made to halt oil and gas exploration, which causes global climate and environmental degradation.

“It is extremely sad to see that at the end of the long negotiations and discussions about the Loss and Damage fund, it has been decided that the World Bank is to host the funds.

“We already are painfully aware of how the World Bank and other international finance institutions continue to fund fossil fuel extraction when they know that is the major driver of global warming.

“We also know that the bank will grab a big chunk of the funds and thereby leave poor vulnerable nations empty handed.

“We have a duty to speak up for Africa, including by rejecting business agreements that do not permit countries to withdraw from harmful contracts when they are revealed for what they are.

“We can also take a cue from the historical referendum which happened in Ecuador in August 2023 where the people overwhelmingly voted against oil extraction in Yasuni in their Amazonian region“, he said.

Some stakeholders such as Ibrhaim Joseph say Africa can consolidate on previous negotiations to advance its demands and contributions in Dubai. Joseph is a programme manager at the Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation (GIFSEP).

Joseph says said the Africa Climate Summit ACS held in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, provided a significant platform for African governments to interact with important stakeholders ahead of COP28.

“My prediction is that Africa will have a unified demand at this COP, which will be centred on carbon credits for Africa’s natural resources.

“Additionally, Africa will seek that all the pledges made at the summit will be actualised in time,” a media report quoted him as saying.

A former African Union (AU) climate adviser Faten Aggad says Africa’s vulnerability to impacts of climate change makes it necessary for the continent to push harder at the negotiation table.

The media recently quoted her as saying that: “Africa is vulnerable when oil prices crash and that confirms what the activists are saying.

“Whether we like it or not industry and trade are moving to renewables with major economies launching trade measures that threaten African countries interest.

“On the other hand, we are between a rock and a hard place.

“We are being sold this dream of renewables but we barely have any investments in it. Gas is the only option available to Africa.”

Where the Global Stocktake provides a roadmap for a decisive shift in the current incomplete approach to addressing climate change, the West African coalition of environmentalists said, COP28 remained the primary platform to execute this pivot.

They advocate regional consideration, particularly in the areas of adaptation, mitigation, finance, equity and implementation.

According to them, an optimal political outcome of the Global Stocktake at COP28 would provide an opportunity for West Africa to build and expand climate solutions that progress intersecting social, economic, and political priorities in the region.

These, the group said in an open letter ahead of COP 28, included reducing causes of forced migration, scaling sustainable development, and accelerating the Just Transition and green growth. NANFeatures

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