Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Leaders call for a legally binding deal at Paris COP21

By Isaiah Esipisu

African leaders at COP21 in Paris
PARIS, France (PAMACC News) – Political leaders, the civil society organisations and religious leaders from Africa have told the team of negotiators at the ongoing Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris that the only agreeable outcome must be legally binding, and one that offers solutions to African needs.

“Agriculture is central to Africa’s development, yet it is one of the most vulnerable sectors to the impacts of climate change and it is also a sector that has huge potential for international trade,” said Carlos Lopes, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

He noted that as a result of climate change, crop yields are generally projected to decrease across Africa, putting food security at high risk.

“The new climate framework to be agreed must, therefore, speak to Africa’s development priorities as African countries make efforts to turn climate change challenges into development opportunities to transform our economies for low-carbon and inclusive growth and prosperity,” Lopez told delegates during the official launch of the African Pavilion at the conference dubbed COP21.

Speaking at the same function, the President of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) Dr Akinwumi Adesina pointed out that it would be useless to have a deal that is not legally binding. “You cannot ask a Bishop to unite you in marriage, and request him to ensure that it is not legally binding,” he said.

“COP21 can only be considered successful only if it meets the needs of Africa,” he reiterated.

Akinwumi noted that the bank was planning to triple its climate finance to $5 billion a year by 2020 in the fight against climate change. “The continent has been shortchanged by climate change, and we must ensure that it is not short changed by climate finance,” he said.

Generally, Africa’s economies heavily depend on climate-sensitive sectors. According to the fifth assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, Africa will increasingly suffer from increased extremes in weather systems, increased water stress, reduced crop production and food security, increased health risks, land degradation and uncontrollable migration if concerted global efforts to curb runaway climate change are not put in place.
“African negotiators must therefore speak with one voice and work tirelessly to ensure that the new climate agreement is a fair deal for Africa,” said Lopes.
In the same vein, civil society organisations in collaboration with faith based organisations across the world handed over a total of 1.8 million signatures to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, petitioning the negotiators at the COP to deliver a deal that is legally binding.

“I stand here when inaction on climate change smells throughout the world, and when the impacts of climate change have escalated in proportions exceeding scientific predictions,” said Augustine Njamnshi, the Policy Coordinator at the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

“Climate change is no longer a challenge of tomorrow, but clearly affecting us today,” he told the petition ceremony that was attended by hundreds of representatives from all over the world.

However, Njamnshi said that it is time to forget differences, and work together on the wat forward.

“It is an historic moment for both those harmed and those who caused the problem, to forgive and forge ahead, as inhabitant of one planet earth. It is no longer time for chest-thumping, but time to break the widening barrier between the North and the South, for we need to bequeath current and future generations a promising future by delivering a Paris Climate Change Pact that is efficient, fair, equitable, ecologically just, and that is responsive to the realities and aspirations,” said Njamnshi.

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