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Africa’s voice must be heard, given weight at COP28

Friday, December 1st, 2023 10:30 | By
Africa’s voice must be heard, given weight at COP28
Africa’s voice must be heard, given weight at COP28

From November 30 to December 12, some 70,000 delegates will gather in Dubai for the UN’s annual climate conference. Almost every country on earth will be participating in negotiations over how to address the climate crisis, limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, which we surpassed on November 17 and 18 and support vulnerable communities to adapt.

Top issues on the agenda at the Conference of Parties (COP28) will include the Loss and Damage Fund, climate finance for developing countries, the phase-out of fossil fuels, plans to accelerate energy transitions and much more. This year’s talks will also, for the first time, take stock of how much progress countries have made in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

But for Africa, a continent disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, the expectations are clear and urgent. Africa demands climate justice, not mere rhetoric or empty promises. Rich and high emitting countries must acknowledge their historical responsibility for the climate crisis and take concrete actions to support African countries to adapt to and mitigate the devastating impacts of climate change. The Global North promised to deliver a $100 billion in climate finance by 2020, but that deadline was missed. COP28 should be the place where the money starts flowing into Africa.

The other outstanding money issue is the loss and damage fund. This facility was unveiled at COP27 in Egypt last year to compensate for the loss and damage caused by climate change. While the fund was a major victory, we need to see culpable countries releasing money.

At the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi in August this year, leaders committed to increase renewable energy’s installed capacity from 56GW to 300 GW by 2030 as part of the efforts to address the climate crisis and help alleviate energy poverty.

However, even this is insufficient in reducing carbon emissions without systematically phasing out fossil fuels. Africa expects COP28 to ignite a renewable energy revolution and a reduction in funding to fossil fuels.

With abundant solar, wind, hydro and uranium resources, Africa has the potential to become a global leader in clean energy. COP28 must challenge developed nations to provide the funding and support to ignite this revolution and help Africa end its fossil fuel dependency.

Africa is already experiencing the harsh impacts of climate change, from floods to prolonged droughts. COP28 must prioritise adaptation and resilience measures to assist nations in building capacity to withstand these challenges. This includes funding for climate-smart agriculture, water management strategies, and early warning systems. Africa demands concrete solutions that empower vulnerable communities and protect its people.

Africa’s unique biodiversity and natural resources are under grave threat due to climate change. COP28 must recognise the importance of conserving and protecting Africa’s ecosystems, which provide critical services and support livelihoods. Sustainable land management practices, reforestation initiatives, and community-based conservation projects must be at the forefront of COP28’s agenda. It’s time to safeguard Africa’s natural heritage for current and future generations.

Africa expects COP28 to enhance climate governance at national and international levels. Transparency, accountability and reporting mechanisms must be strengthened to ensure that countries fulfil their commitments. Capacity building initiatives should be prioritized to empower African nations to effectively implement climate policies and access climate finance. African voices must be heard and given equal weight during negotiations.

At the heart of Africa’s vision are young leaders and minds who envision a world where clean air, thriving ecosystems, and economic prosperity are within reach. The success of COP28 hinges on climate policies and interventions that give room to Africa’s youth to create the world they will have to live in and policies that help industrialise the continent and create jobs.

—The writer is the Kenya Country Coordinator and RePlanet Africa Media and Communications Lead  —[email protected]

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