‘Financing for Africa hasn’t been forthcoming despite pledges, COP27 is a chance to deliver’

Sameh Shoukry
By Sameh Shoukry

Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the COP27 President-Designate.

Posted on Wednesday, 7 September 2022 18:34, updated on Tuesday, 20 September 2022 17:01

Somalis who fled drought-stricken areas receive charitable food donations from city residents after arriving at a makeshift camp for the displaced on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia on June 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh, File)

As we know, Africa is no stranger to the disproportionate impact of climate change.

Last year, Madagascar became the first country on earth to suffer a famine solely due to the impact of climate change. It almost certainly won’t be the last. By 2050, climate change will lead to an additional 78 million people experiencing chronic hunger – over half of them in Africa.

Children in the Horn of Africa are already experiencing one of the worst climate-induced humanitarian catastrophes of the past 40 years, as they need treatment for severe acute malnutrition, and with the lowest levels of funding on record the global humanitarian community is unable to respond as needed.

Africa’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is less than 4%, but the continent suffers due to the actions of other parts of the world. Yet, the African nations are being asked to spend around 2% to 3% of GDP per year to address a problem that they did not create.

This is climate injustice.

‘Climate change is not a thing of the future’

We need to strive for true climate justice based on equity and fairness. This means looking at the science, the facts, and the figures. The availability of means of implementation must be guided by the principles of common, but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and equities, as set out in the Paris Agreement. Thus, it is disheartening that only 2% of global investments in renewable energy over the last two decades were made in Africa.

Investment in cleaner energy is essential for Africa to meet its development goals and transition to a newer sustainable economic model, especially given that around 60 million Africans do not have access to energy and around 900 million Africans do not have access to clean cooking.

Climate change is not a thing of the future.  The impacts are real and now. Moreover, by 2025, climate change is expected to lead to 230 million Africans facing water scarcity, and 460 million more living in water-stressed areas.

Lack of food and water massively impact upon other problems and risking lives and livelihoods. Eight of the 10 most climate-vulnerable countries in Africa have 60% of the working population employed in the climate-sensitive agricultural sector. When that suffers, it doesn’t only lead to loss of income, but creates a further strain on an already dwindling food supply.

We will create an environment that enables constructive dialogue and is conducive to success, because we can no longer wait.

As a result, it’s projected we are likely to see the displacement and migration of over 85 million people, fleeing famine and drought hoping to find a better life elsewhere in their own country, only to discover that other places are suffering from the same problems.

It is important that Africa continues to focus on its goals. As incoming Presidency, we believe that the Paris Agreement provided the needed balance and identified our ultimate objective. It’s now up to us to work on defining the pathway and to manage the transition, with a focus on reducing emissions and enhancing resilience.

Aim of COP27

With the support of the governments of Africa, the COP27 Presidency aims to achieve an outcome that contributes to delivering the appropriate finance on the scale needed. An outcome that leaves no one behind, through a just transition perspective that allows for different pathways to low emissions and resilient development that keeps the Paris goals within reach.

As COP President, we will create an environment that enables constructive dialogue and is conducive to success, because we can no longer wait.

Egypt hosting COP27 later this year is not only significant, but also incredibly important for Africa and the world. If COP26 was about countries making promises to avoid catastrophic climate change, the broader themes in Egypt will be moving from ambition to action, especially in Africa.

At COP15 in Copenhagen, over 12 years ago, the world’s richest countries promised $100bn every year from 2020 to 2025 to help developing countries affected by climate change adapt to its effects and encourage them to take ambitious mitigation actions as well. The world has fallen short of these pledges, with promised funding now likely not being delivered until 2023 at a time when credible reports are pointing to $5.6trn as the needed finance for developing countries nationally determined contributions.

This lagging on commitments, coupled with a slowing down in the transition to renewables, makes the Paris Agreement targets increasingly difficult to attain. More implementation is urgently needed if the pledges of the past are not to become empty promises. We need to refocus ourselves on the task in hand, despite the global headwinds. Nations can show that by delivering on their commitments, raise their ambition and further global and regional climate agenda ahead of COP27.

Financing for Africa hasn’t been forthcoming despite pledges. Africans are suffering without this, but at Egypt’s COP27 there will be a chance to finally deliver. To move from talk and pledging to action – it may be the last chance we have. The countries attending COP27 in Egypt have the power to make a positive change via funding, and it can be done.

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