Tuesday, September 8, 2015

PACJA warns against over optimism ahead of COP 21

By Friday Phiri in Dar-e-salaam
Mithika Mwenda of PACJA in Dar es Salaam

Ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties in December, the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) has warned African delegates not to be over optimistic of a positive outcome.

Speaking to Journalists at the Africa Climate Talks in Dar-e-salaam, PACJA Secretary General, Mithika Mwenda cautioned that Africa should not be over expectant of a deal that answers all of its climate related challenges.

“We are quite skeptical because signals are not very good with a month to go before the COP. But it is our hope that whatever the outcome, the interests of Africa will be safeguarded to a certain extent”, Mwenda said.

He emphasised the need for Africa to remain alert to divisive measures that developed countries sometimes employ to break the continent’s unified position, as has been witnessed in the past.

“Obviously, when we are in these processes, we are always concerned with interference from industrialised countries especially aimed at Africa’s unified voice. Remember that we are talking about an issue that directly affects their economies and finances and so they are ready to do anything to safeguard their position”, he explained.

Mwenda added: “And so our call is for us to resist the temptation of manipulation especially targeted at Africa’s unified position.”

And echoing Mwenda’s remarks, United Republic of Tanzania Vice President Mohammed Gharib Bilal urged Africa to step up its game pointing out that its stakes are high considering that it is the most affected but the least contributor to global emissions.

“The problem of Africa doesn’t seem to be capacity as such…but lack of political backing. It is to expect too much for the developed countries to do this for us. We need to change and the change has to start from within…to champion a narrative and cause that is consistent with our own development aspirations”, Dr. Bilal told delegates in his official opening speech.

And highlighting the importance of Africa’s development aspirations, Zimbabwe Minister for Water, Environment and Climate, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashikiri urged the continent to have clear guidelines in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions-INDCs especially at implementation stage.

“We should be guided by Africa’s vision 2063 but also keep an eye on the implementation and evaluation processes”, she stated.
According to ACPC, “The Promise of Paris” seeks to crystallise an umbrella conceptual framing of Africa’s role in the global governance of climate change, and to position climate change as both a constraint on Africa’s development potential as well as an opportunity for the structural transformation of Africa’s economies.

The climate talks will explore the possibilities of Africa prospering in a changing climate, how that prosperity can be leveraged, and the roles of different countries in enabling this prosperity through their contributions to global climate governance.

Successive Assessment Reports (ARs) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) note that while progress has been made in many areas of defining the global response to climate change, this is not sufficient. More still needs to be done and urgently to avert catastrophic climate change.

The global climate governance framework needs to become more robust in order to create a solid foundation to guide humanity’s climate response, and time is of the essence. The global narrative now seeks to limit temperature increases due to anthropogenic GHG to 20C by 2050.

However, all evidence indicates that for Africa and the Small Island Developing States, temperature increases above 1.50C are already catastrophic. The 1.50C is the Precautionary Principle threshold established in the UNFCCC, yet subsequent interpretations and reinterpretations of the UNFCCC have revised the emissions reduction ambition downwards.

What has been the role of Africa in this process? How does the current framing of emissions reduction ambition in the lead up to Paris reflect the different interests and aspirations of the parties to the UNFCCC? How will the Paris agreement resolve the apparent gap between the interests of the developed countries and the developing world? How will African interests be articulated and reflected in the post Kyoto agreement?

Therefore, delegates at the ACT are deliberating on these and many other questions to find answers to Africa’s challenges and come up with a unified position at the upcoming COP 21 in Paris, France.

For Africa, most of whose economies are climate sensitive, it is no longer a question of what it is but how to cope because climate change “defines the very existence of humanity”, according to Dr. Bilal, Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

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