Friday, December 12, 2014

No going back on legally binding climate agreement - African Groups

Mohamed Gharib Bilal
Atayi Babs, PAMACC Team, Lima
As the Lima climate talks grind to a close, African groups  have stressed the urgent need for a legally binding climate agreement to ensure safety for Africa and Africans.

Mohamed Gharib Bilal, Vice President of Tanzania and Coordinator of the Committee of the African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) disclosed this during the "Africa day event" at the sidelines of the LIma climate conference.

"Africa needs a legally binding climate agreement that places issues of adaptation, finance and technology transfer at the forefront," Vice President Bilal remarked.

Nagmeldin El Hassan, Chair, African Group, while briefing on some outstanding issues in the negotiations noted that the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly identifies Africa’s climate-related vulnerabilities. He highlighted that gaps in parties’ current commitments are a source of concern as they fall far short of the requirement to “keep Africa safe” in a 2°C world. "Africa’s concerns have been enhanced by developed countries’ focus on mitigation and voluntary Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)" he said.

The Africa Day at COP 20, which was organised by the African Union Commission (AUC), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and African Development Bank (AfDB), in collaboration with the Governments of Tanzania and Mozambique provided a platform and opportunity to critically examine the implications of the post-2015 climate change agreement for the continent, and how to enhance the involvement of women and youth in climate change adaptation. 

In line with the focus on Africa, Fatima Denton, Director of Special Initiatives, UN Economic Commission for Africa, highlighted the green development vision articulated by African leaders in the last decade, citing the Clim-Dev Africa Programme as an African-led process to strengthen the knowledge base for climate-smart development and disseminate it at community level. She asserted that the fight against climate change can be won through bankable projects.
Recalling her experience as one of two African ministers in Bali who “forced their way” into the closed contact group working on a compromise agreement, Jessica Eriyo, Deputy Secretary General, East African Community stated that climate change is a human-rights issue because it affects the livelihoods of Africans, she urged negotiators "to remain firm and work as a team to ensure that the Lima outcome reflects their concerns."

Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, Alternate Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board Member for the Democratic Republic of Congo, noted that a key objective of the GCF is to “level the playing field” in the climate finance landscape, saying that half of the US$10 billion GCF funding has been earmarked for adaptation activities, with a priority for Africa and Small Island Developing States. Among other opportunities for Africa, he highlighted, inter alia: equal representation for GCF Board Members from developing countries; the strong focus on direct access and country ownership; a fast track option for implementing entities that are already accredited to other multilateral funding mechanisms; and the GCF-wide gender policy and action plan.

Sam Ogallah of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) remarked that African civil society will not relent in its drive to ensure that Africa gets a better climate deal in 2015 and added that "civil society will not hesitate to name and shame any group or parties that are bent on foisting unfair climate deals on Africa."

Speaking on initiatives to empower women and youth in climate activities, Alcinda António de Abreu, Minister for Coordination of Environmental Affairs, Mozambique, highlighted the advocacy role of the African Union and Regional Economic Communities, noting that "it facilitates the adoption of inclusive policies at the national and subnational levels." Discussing best practices in this area in Mozambique, she highlighted a national drive to educate youth and communities to care for nature, which oversees the planting of more than six million trees every year.

During discussions, speakers harped on the need to channel climate investments to the subnational level to ensure full participation of affected communities, promote awareness on workable adaptation strategies for policy makers, and focus on readiness activities to ensure Africa has the requisite policies and projects in place once the GCF becomes fully operational.

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