COP27: A mixed bag for Africa

By adopting the ‘‘loss and damage” fund at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the world was able to clear a stubborn hurdle that has been a thorn in the flesh of Global South countries for 30 years. The fund is meant to compensate poor countries for the destruction wrought by climate change on lives and livelihoods.

The Sunday morning breakthrough followed hours of intense exchanges in negotiations that are traditionally skewed in favour of the Global North. For days, the rich industrialised countries had refused to yield to calls from Africa, civil society groups and climate activists to set up the fund that will see them pay up for their heavy carbon emissions. But even with the historic victory, it remains to be seen whether they will commit money in their national budgets to go to the fund.

Being held on African soil, many had seen this year’s summit as an ‘‘African COP” that needed to deliver resolutions that would change the climate change conversation for good.

While India and other delegations had called for the ‘‘phasedown of all fossil fuels’’, the resolution addressed the phasedown of ‘‘unabated coal and all inefficient fuel subsidies”.

There was also a reference to ‘‘low-emission energy” forms—hence, rich countries will continue to rely on natural gas, a fossil fuel that emits toxic carbon dioxide and methane.

To date, the $100 billion pledged in 2009 by rich countries to support poorer countries remains a pipe dream.

Last week, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies lamented that the ambition to deliver decisive climate commitments on adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage had waned towards the end of the summit.

On the flip side, there were calls for the regulation and reform of multilateral development banks and other international financial bodies to align their spending to climate change goals—which was a triumph for all, including hosts Africa.

Overall, COP27 was a mixed bag for Kenya, and Africa, but a good platform to learn, nonetheless.