Paris Climate talks holds the future of Africa

Civil society demonstrate after the ministerial drought was released

Civil society demonstrate after the ministerial drought was released

By Sophie Mbugua – A cleaner 29 paged draft christened “Paris Outcomes” agreement released late Wednesday has stimulated mixed reactions among the 194 countries currently negotiating a global climate change deal.

Pertinent issues for Africa such as differentiation, demand for climate finance, adaptation and temperature limit of 1.5 degrees are some of the contentious issues still under deliberations from the trimmed document containing many brackets where wording is still antagonistic. All these matters remain unresolved in the current text.

Africa and other developing countries considered as vulnerable have been pushing for a 1.5degrees reduction of emissions out of the soon to be agreed Paris Outcomes that is expected to be signed late this week.

“We’re asking for a clear signal out of Paris, but some parties are still muddying the waters with weak text.” May Boeve, the director of the global climate justice lobby, says. “If countries are serious about keeping warming below 1.5°C, we need to see a firm commitment get off fossil fuels and move to 100% renewable energy by 2050, and an ambition mechanism to help us get there.”

With only a day to the end of the Paris meeting, Brandon Wu of Action Aid has criticized the climate finance segment on the negotiating text released by the ministers noting that developed nations support for the poor nations has become potentially weaker than in previous agreements.

“Finance has been one of the most disappointing issues throughout.” Says Wu. “As developed countries have not made any new pledges on the adaptation finance and have refused to talk about the post 2020 collective finance target for finance”

But of interest is the new expansion of the pool of contributors for climate finance which the developed nations are eager to discuss hence shifting the burden of providing finance to other nations that are in a position to do so.

Finance still remains the most contentious issue. Underpinning the tension is differentiation which defines those who will be responsible for paying developing nations adaptation and mitigation plans.

Dr Shaddad Muawia of the Sudanese Environment Conservation Society (SECS) observes that the finance provision is now limited to only adaptation and mitigation and makes no reference to loss and damage or sustainable development context.

“All the relevant adjectives speaking to the quality of finance provision are bracketed and bunched into a bracketed paragraph labelled new or additional meaning under contention” Muawia says

Mohammed Adow a senior climate advisor at Christian Aid’s, Senior notes that though progress has been made on climate adaptation and capacity building, still more attention needs to be given to adaptation finance to give effective support to the most vulnerable countries

“The next 24 hours are critical. This is where the real negotiations will begin. We really need countries to fight to keep in the high ambition options on climate finance, the long term de-carbonisation goal and a ratchet mechanism to ensure the agreement evolves to meet the needs of a changing world.” Adow says.

In 1992, developed countries under the Article 4 of the Kyoto Protocol committed to not only limit their carbon emissions but also provide new and additional financial support to developing nations to undertake mitigation and adaptation actions. 23 years down the line, these remain just but promises which have largely gone unfulfilled

Differentiation in regard to mitigation, finance and transparency has also been among the emerging issues which the parties are yet to agree on. The Kyoto protocol recognized the developed countries responsibility to provide finances to poor nations to adapt to effects of climate change but the ministerial negotiating text has included other parties to provide finance to developing countries.

The civil society is calling for further deliberations on finance calling for transparency. A clear definition to climate finance will directly affect how much money is delivered and in what forms, making it just as relevant to recipients as it is to contributors.

The 2014 United Nation’s Environmental Program Adaptation Gap warns that Africa’s adaptation demands could double to USD100billion in a year by 2050. This report warns that it will exceed the continents capacity to respond to projected damages and impacts through domestic resources, even if the base to raise international funds is broadened.

Despite the report calling up for scaling up of international support, adaptation has not been receiving the kind of attention that Africa has called for over the years. African countries have been calling for 50-50 finance balance between adaptation and mitigation as adaptation is crucial in protecting and promoting development gains that have been achieved in Africa.

“Is adaptation a priority or are we used to being mitigation centrics, yes the world needs to mitigate but some people need to survive, when shall we have that on the table?” Muawia poses.

In addition Dr Muawia noted that drought and floods are already devastating and exaggerating conflicts due to fights over natural resources among the poorest nations and leading to loss of livelihood in Africa.

“Adaptation is not only finding the money but it’s the big process of changing people’s lives which comes with demand for finance and if it’s ignored how the African will people survive?” Muawia asks. “We cannot embrace renewable energy without support. We want to get away from fossil fuels but support for finance, technology and capacity building is critical.”

 According to Muawia differentiation is the foundation of the convention.

“Climate has a direct impact to our livelihood, economy and to us climate change, hunger and poverty is the same fight. We are calling for adoption of adaptation, beyond adaptation and loss of damage. At least 50% of the total; climate finance should go to adaptation” explains Azeb Girma of LDC Watch

In September 2015, world leaders met and adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030.

But how these global goals will be achieved or not especially in Africa and other developing nations will be determined by the outcome if the Paris agreement expected at the end of the week

“If we do not address climate change there is no way developing countries can be food secure” warns Muawia

“This article was produced in the framework of the Media21 Africa Project by CFI, the French operator in media cooperation”