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COP 27 - spotlight on Africa

What Africa expects from this year’s climate summit and why more of the same isn’t going to be good enough.

By Anuli Uzodi – Communications Executive, Ripple Effect

Since the first COP 27 years ago, nations have been discussing the need to halt life-threatening rising global temperatures. And we have ended up with a series of agreements, pacts and protocols – from Berlin to Kyoto, Paris and Glasgow. The conference series continues this year in Egypt.

The fact that this year’s summit is dubbed “the Africa COP” nicely glosses over the fact this isn’t the first time Africa will host the event. Morocco hosted COP 7 in 2001; Kenya hosted COP 12 in 2006 and South Africa had its year with COP 17 in 2011. Morocco played host a second time with COP22 in 2016.

But we could be generous and assume that this label is an acknowledgement that African countries are right on the frontline of the climate crisis. It does signal another key opportunity for Africa to drive the action against global overheating.

Why this COP matters MORE for Africa

Overwhelming evidence shows that African countries are suffering the most from the climate crisis although they are responsible for only three percent of emissions.

Agriculture – the sector we work in at Ripple Effect – is Africa’s single most important area of economic activity and has been the most impacted because nearly 70% of people in Africa rely on the land to grow their food and generate income.

  • The World Meteorological Organisation report State of the climate in Africa 2021 highlighted increased temperatures contributing to a 34 per cent reduction in agricultural productivity growth across the continent since 1961. This is more than any other region in the world.
  • In Kenya, delayed long rains from March through April 2021, contributed to a reduction of 42% of the maize output in the southeastern agricultural areas and a drastic 70% in the coastal areas. 1.5 million livestock are estimated to have died in 15 counties.
  • Ripple Effect works with smallholder farmers in six east African countries. The farmers are witnessing their crops dry up. Unpredictable weather patterns are making it very difficult for them to plan when to plant, and when they can harvest.
  • Across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, more than 1.7 million children are facing severe malnutrition and are in urgent need of treatment.

But still, no real action

These stories and figures just don’t seem to resonate with decision-makers in the developed countries which are responsible for the highest emissions. Or certainly not in ways that prompt them to implement hard-hitting measures to drive down their emissions.

Nature continues its worldwide revolt and with Africa at the firing line, the outcome will be hunger and the loss of more lives.

The key issues for this COP: adaptation and mitigation

Why do they matter?

Countries that have signed up to the Paris Agreement have set lofty targets to reduce 50 per cent of global emissions by 2050. While the true cost of climate mitigation is debatable, what is clear is that it will require substantial upfront investments. And most African countries will be relying on international finance support to implement many of their climate change programmes.

Adaptation is widely touted because of its significance in strengthening our communities’ resilience to the crisis. Yet as climate conditions worsen, adaptation needs and costs in African countries increase. Tearfund estimates that these costs could be up to five times the national spending on healthcare for countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

These problems highlight the urgency for a drastic increase in funding to African countries.

So, what is needed is more money

Adaptation, mitigation and the affordable finance to pay for them, are not new items on the climate agenda but they remain priorities for us in Africa. This is why we continue to reiterate their importance.

For COP 27, we are calling for legitimate initiatives by governments and corporations that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We also demand that developed countries fulfil their Paris Agreement pledges of 100 billion dollars annually to African countries.

And we don’t want any fudging of the figures - this is additional funding that’s needed.

Climate finance to Africa – no strings attached please

The current Chair of the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) on climate change, Ephraim Mwepya Shitima of Zambia, has rightly said over and over that any money channeled to Africa as climate finance must be separate from Official Development Assistance (ODA). We do not need more zeros added to our debts.

African leaders aren’t waiting for the annual COP meetings to come together to act. In a recent lecture series in July this year, Dr Kevin Kariuki, Vice-president for Power, Energy & Climate at the African Development Bank, revealed that the bank plans to mobilize $13 billion for climate finance in Africa with 63% of which will be for adaptation.

We couldn’t agree more when he said: “unless we provide enough resources, our ambitions will amount to a zero-sum game."

As African leaders and activists gear up for COP27, one thing is clear – Africa is united in its focus, demands and expectations that COP 27 must yield value beyond talks.

Egypt signals action time.