By Fabíola Ortiz
As the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 moved toward an end, the African Group of Negotiators criticized the “very limited progress” of the climate talks and said “no deal is better than bad deal”.
“We are very very very worried about the balance of the outcome. We are concerned that what we are seeing now is regressing on implementing all the commitments we have under the Paris Agreement,” announced Ambassador Mohamed Nasr, Head of Environmental Affairs at Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs who led the African Group of Negotiators (AGN).
Throughout the negotiations, the Egyptian Ambassador has voiced his concern that adaptation to climate change is not adequately addressed in climate talks.
“We need to ensure that those targets provide the continent adaptation through a multilateral fund that is extremely important. What we are witnessing now is the final part of the negotiations related to Article 6, market of loss and damage and elements related to adaptation and finance. For the African Group those elements have been priority,” he maintained Ambassador Nasr on December 13, the last official day of the COP25 that had been apparently extended.
A great part of COP25 negotiations focused on the need to agree the rules for a market-based mechanism established under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement centres on carbon trading. Throughout the two-week talks, countries gathered in Madrid tried but apparently failed to agree on the rulebook governing this mechanism.
“Action will never materialize without having more ambition on finance and technology transfer. The developed countries should provide for the maximum mitigation targets and action. We know that for Africa finance for adaptation is lagging behind,” leader of the African Group of Negotiators told journalists.
As South African Environment Minister Barbara Creecy pointed out, the continent is the most vulnerable to climate change impacts and is the continent least responsible for the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“Addressing and responding to the impacts of climate change is critical for the sustainable development of our continent. Our continent is prepared to have its share,” stated Creecy during the “Africa Day” event on December 10.
Since the adoption of Paris Agreement in 2015, 51 out 54 African countries have ratified their NDCs (nationally determined contributions).
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) indicated that the continent is one of the most vulnerable to climate variability, “a situation aggravated by the interaction of ‘multiple stresses’, occurring at various levels, and low adaptive capacity”.
The continent has suffered from the impacts of climate change. Africa contributes to only 4% of the global emissions and receives only 3% of the global carbon finance.
The latest UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) report indicated that African governments are already paying 2 to 9% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on climate impacts. UNDP (the United Nations Development Programme) estimates that the annual costs of building climate resilience could range from USD 140 to 300 billion by 2030.
Moreover, African governments are deeply indebted. They made USD 12.8 billion of debt payments to other governments in 2016 and another USD 13.2 billions of debts with private creditors totaling an amount of USD 33,3 billion external debt.
“If we are to deal with climate action, the entire ecosystem at national and subnational level has to me mobilized,” stressed Anthony Nyong the representative of the African Development Bank indicating that the bank has created the African Finance Alliance on Climate Change to get financial regulators to facilitate financing.
For Estherine Fatabon, the representative of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) now called the African Union Development Agency stresses that the Paris Agreement and the countries’ NDCs present a “unique” opportunity to Africa to galvanize the innovative capacity of its people.
“We cannot wait for decisions from the COP. The challenges are already felt by our communities. Africans have historically shown a natural resilience. This has to be complemented by a strong institutional and human capacity as well as innovations and appropriate technologies that can turn climate change into an opportunity for growth and sustainable development in our continent.”