The climate change negotiations that ended in Marrakesh, Morocco last week provided an opportunity for Africa to present its common position with clear priority areas on climate resilience. The position by Africa is similar to that of southern Africa which favours adaptation over mitigation and it highlights that the measures for achieving this include finance, technology transfer and capacity building.
One of the critical issues discussed at the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was the need for developed countries to fulfil their financial pledges on climate resilience.
Article 9 of the Paris Agreement states that “developed country Parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention.”
The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), held earlier this year to prepare for COP 22 reaffirmed the position that developed countries have an obligation to provide adequate, predictable and sustainable climate finance to assist developing countries in respect to both mitigation and adaptation activities.
However, although the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 clearly highlights the need for efficient access to financial resources through simplified approval procedures and enhanced support for developing countries, past experience has shown that developed countries are failing to live up to their commitments.
Speaking at the meeting, President Mugabe accused wealthy nations of ignoring the needs of the poor when it comes to tackling climate change.
“Zimbabwe, which is in the process of ratifying the Paris Climate Change Agreement, is determined to expedite the ratification process and to complete it in the shortest time possible.
“My country is committed to playing its part in combating climate change impacts,” he said.
“The implementation of the nationally determined contributions is not an opportunity for our developed country partners to seek to frustrate our development prospects through the imposition of conditionalities or intrusive and punitive mechanisms, neither should it be an opportunity to seek to disproportionately burden the developing countries.
“Let us not squander the Paris Agreement through old habits.
“In elaborating the ground rules for implementation of this agreement, this cardinal principle must, in no way, be diluted or qualified.
“It is our expectation, therefore, that the implementation of the Paris Climate Change agreement will contribute to the realisation of the equally universal agreement in the sustainable development goals.”
Since the establishment of the Green Climate Fund, Africa has been facing major challenges in accessing financial resources due to stringent conditions imposed by developed countries.
African Development Bank president, Akinwumi Adesina, said the existing climate financing architecture does not provide the finance that Africa needs.
“Much more needs to be done to increase Africa’s access to climate finance,” he said.
Adesina pointed out that although Africa contributes less than three percent of the global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, the continent continues to suffer the most from the effects of climate change.
The deputy director responsible for climate change issues in the Zimbabwean Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, Veronica Gundu said among the core issues that Africa wanted discussed at COP 22 was simplified access to the Green Climate Fund.
AMCEN, therefore, is pushing for the development of a concrete roadmap for developed countries to deliver on their pledge to provide US$100 billion annually by 2020 for climate resilience.
The ministers, however, noted that the US$100 billion is well below the scale of financial resources required to implement the convention and the Paris Agreement.
In particular, Africa wants developed countries to provide finance, technology development and transfer and capacity building to enable countries to adequately address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts.
Africa is also calling for deeper cuts in emissions beyond 2020, and want developed countries to take the lead in this regard so that the world can be on a pathway consistent with the pledge for temperature increases that are below 1,5°C.
The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, which was 30 days after at least 55 parties to the convention deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with UNFCCC Secretariat.
For the Paris Agreement to come into force, at least 55 parties – which should account for more than 55 percent of the total GHG emissions – should have ratified the agreement.
As of 9 November 2016, a total of 102 Parties had ratified the agreement.
In southern Africa, all the island states have already ratified the Paris Agreement.
Mauritius was the first to deposit its instrument of ratification on 22 April 2016, the same date when the agreement was opened for signature, with Seychelles ratifying a few days later, on the 29th of April.
Madagascar deposited its instruments of ratification and acceptance on 21 September.
The short time these island states have taken to ratify the agreement demonstrates the urgency required to take action so as to respond to the devastating impacts of climate change.
Other countries that have ratified the agreement in Sadc are Namibia and Swaziland, with both depositing their instruments of ratification on 21 September while South Africa ratified on 1 November.
COP 22 came at a time when southern Africa has just experienced a severe drought in the 2015/16 agricultural season.
According to the Sadc Regional Situation Update on the 2015/16 drought, at least 39 million people – about 13 percent of the population of the region – are food-insecure this year as a result of the poor farming season.
Almost every sector of the region’s economic and social development, from agriculture and food production to power generation, human settlements, water and sanitation, has been affected by the drought.
As a result of increasing evidence of climate variability and change, southern Africa expects COP 22 to take key action-oriented and bold decisions that will enable the region to strengthen its resilience strategies as outlined in the Paris Agreement.
COP 22 took place in Marrakech, Morocco, from 7 to 18 November 2016.
It was the fourth time for an African country to host the climate change conference, following Morocco in 2001 (COP7), Kenya in 2006 (COP13) and South Africa in 2011 (COP17). – Sardc.net with additional reporting by The Sunday Mail.
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