COP 27: Africa’s priorities must take centre stage

Wednesday, October 19th, 2022 10:30 | By
It’s time Africa moved to stem climate change threats
Smoke from factory. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Africa finds itself at the frontline of the climate emergency despite contributing less than four percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, hundreds of millions of smallholder farmers who heavily rely on rainfed agriculture are adversely impa cted by the change in rainfall, searing heatwaves and severe drought. The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing the worst drought in forty years.

The current trajectory estimates that global warming will cause an annual dip of up to 4 percent in GDP in Africa by 2040.

What can be done to ensure the move towards climate ambition in Africa is just and equitable?  At present, the world is set on mitigation and decarbonization efforts over adaptation and resilience initiatives that urgently call for climate financing. While mitigation measures keep global temperatures below 2°C, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that the continent is expected to face climate change adaptation costs of US 50 billion per year by 2050.

Not only is adaptation critical in reducing the economic damage in the supply chains, infrastructure and livelihoods, but it also offers significant opportunities to achieve the Sustainable Development agenda and put Africa on a new green and resilient pathway to growth.As the private sector accounts for 90 percent of the jobs in Africa and 75 percent of its economic output, it is imperative that the business community is not excluded from these climate change plans.

Numbers hold power in the fight against climate change and effective plans call for a collaborative effort between public and private entities. Yet, private sector involvement and investments in developing the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) continue to be minimal, thus losing the bid to increase the resource efficiency and resilience of development outcomes.

Kenya, for instance, is among the few African countries making considerable strides in upholding its commitment to the National Determined Contributions (NDCs). The national and local governments have acknowledged the value of mainstreaming adaptation into development plans and policies across sectors for better management of the escalating climate change risks to foster resilience.

In forging the path ahead, it is clear how important private sector engagement is in the creation of the NAPs or NDCs intended to address context-specific climate vulnerabilities and to generate the required financing. Their role is critical in providing proactive and constructive input for governments to create effective climate policies that attract climate finance and incentives for sustainable business practices like carbon credits.

The Ukraine crisis and the current drought serve as a wake-up call for the transition away from fossil fuels and provided a springboard for the world to enter a new era of inclusive multilateralism to safeguard the planet for a better tomorrow.

In the wake of the energy crisis, the UN Secretary-General’s five-point energy plan will be essential in the push to triple private and public investment in renewables to at least 4 trillion dollars annually. The roundtable perspectives from the UN Global Compact’s Africa Business Leaders Coalition highlight the need for low-carbon development to deliver a just transition. Despite the clear message from COP26 to work together to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and our environmental impact, the pledge to fund developing nations has not yet been fulfilled. With less than eight years to deliver on the SDGs, now is the time for action for a stronger, resilient future.

During the 77th annual United Nations General Assembly, Kenya’s President  William Ruto, reaffirmed the nation’s commitment to sustain and collaborate with all stakeholders on climate change, rise to the challenge and help build a better world for Kenyans thus setting the stage for ambitious action.

COP27 is Africa’s COP. Looking ahead, African institutions and companies must realize their potential, become climate champions, and bring their voice to the global conversation.

— The writer is the Executive Director of Global Compact Network Kenya.

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