Six things Africa will push for at Egypt meet

A herder holds a carcass at Horri Guda in North Horr, Marsabit County. The devastating drought in Northern Kenya has left pastoralist communities without pasture leading to death of hundreds of thousands of livestock. 

Photo credit: Nicholas Komu I Nation Media Group

President William Ruto is departing to Egypt today to lead the Kenyan delegation at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that is being held in Sharm el-Sheikh City. 

At the meeting, President Ruto is expected to make a strong case for Kenya and Africa. He will enumerate, among other issues, how African nations are still bearing the brunt of the impacts of emissions from the developed world. 

The President will also be attending the annual conference as the chairman of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change and will deliver the Kenyan national statement and also on behalf of Africa, the State House spokesperson Hussein Mohamed said yesterday. 

“The President is expected to rally the globe towards a more ambitious climate action, seeking implementation and honouring of commitments made over the past 30 years by countries with the greatest responsibilities for accumulating greenhouse gases causing global warming,” Mr Mohamed said in a statement. 

He went on: “He (President Ruto) will also be outlining Kenya’s policies and strategies to tap into the global carbon market.”  President Ruto’s administration, Mr Hussein said, is prioritising climate change mitigation and adaptation. 

“Among other interventions, including securing and protecting public forests, the President has already announced an ambitious reforestation programme to grow at least 15 billion trees in the next 10 years to ensure Kenya attains 30 per cent tree cover by 2032,” he said.

During his inauguration, the President said climate change is “a phenomenon complicating the roadmap towards socio-economic transformation and achievement of sustainable development goals in Kenya and Africa.” 

COP27 is coming at a time when the African continent is experiencing a myriad of challenges including crises in energy and food sectors. Kenya and the Horn of Africa region particularly are in the midst of the worst drought in 40 years, the spokesperson said. 

On top of the pledges meant to lower temperature rise, African countries have demanded financial backing to help adapt to the agreement. 

When President Ruto addressed the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, he said that Africa needed financial aid and technical support to help it transition to low carbon technologies. This is the very message he is taking with him to the COP27. 

As the 27th round of negotiations on how to combat the changing climatic conditions kicks off in Egypt this week, Africa will be pushing a six-point agenda.

The African Group of Negotiators (AGN) will be pushing for more finance for adaptation, just transition, and finance for loss and damages, among other things that they feel are crucial for the continent’s survival.

According to the AGN chairman, Mr Ephraim Mwepya Shitima, Africa is the least contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions with less than 4 per cent of total global emissions and yet the most adversely impacted region as reaffirmed by the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.

“Africa is already experiencing severe and widespread impacts of climate change causing devastation to lives, livelihoods and the continent's development trajectory. And this is a clear manifestion of climate injustice.”

So far, the continent is the least contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions with about 3.8 per cent of emissions yet the most adversely impacted region, according to IPCC, which provides the best available scientific evaluation.

The meeting comes at a time four million Kenyans in 23 arid and semi arid counties are facing hunger, with 13 counties being the most affected, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS). Kenya’s CS for Environment Soipan Tuya said that the country is suffering from its worst drought in years.

“More than three million people are food insecure, and many have become displaced in Kenya. Climate change is a global problem requiring global solutions, but developing countries are bearing the brunt of this crisis,” she said.

Recently, elephant deaths were reported at Tsavo East National Park due to the ongoing drought.

This has a negative impact on the tourism industry, which contributes almost 10 per cent of the country’s revenue.

“We are calling on COP27 to deliver on the special needs and circumstance of Africa given the climate impacts on the continent,” said Prof Seth Osafo, the legal adviser to AGN.

“Africa is already demonstrating its commitment to combating climate change, through the submission of highly ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions by African countries and spending up to 9 per cent of GDPs in addressing climate change, but the full ambition of African NDCs cannot be realised without support from the international community,” said Prof Osafo.

Despite being heavily impacted by climate change, Kenya still stands tall on the global map among countries that have embraced use of renewable energy as a way of mitigation.

The country is also on track in terms of increasing the tree and forest cover after surpassing the 10 per cent target of tree cover almost eight years before the deadline.

However, the country still needs financial support to help citizens who are suffering from the ongoing drought, perennial floods, to cushion those who have lost their livelihoods due to climate change, and also to invest in technologies that will improve food production among other things.

In that regard, the African negotiators will be calling on the developed countries to double their adaptation finance to developing countries and have it channelled through the Adaptation Fund.

“Towards addressing the urgent need for a predictable and at-scale source of funding for adaptation, we encourage parties to consider the market-based mechanism under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement that include a share of proceeds for adaptation,” said Mithika Mwenda, the head of Pan Africa Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), a network that brings together over 1,000 environment-related civil society organisations.

There has also been constant call for the developed countries to deliver on their finance obligations and also expedite the provision of $100 billion per annum.

On the agricultural sector, the AGN will be seeking for concrete and practical outcomes, given that the sector is key to climate adaptation and to some extent, mitigation.

“We are looking forward to a decision that will move agriculture to the next level where we can start seeing financial flows to address agricultural issues, thereby cushioning African farmers who are adversely affected by the climate phenomenon,” said Dr George Wamukoya, a Kenyan negotiator and the team leader for the Africa Group of Negotiators Experts Support (AGNES).

The negotiators are also seeking for establishment of an implementing mechanism under the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) to facilitate the implementation of concrete actions and respond to urgent needs by developing countries.

The KJWA is an important decision under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that recognises the unique potential of agriculture in tackling climate change.

Lastly, they will push for just transitions for Africa that avoids unplanned and abrupt divestment from fossil fuels, and one that recognises the multiple forms and stages of just transitions for different countries.

Speaking to the Nation, Mr Mohamed Adow, who is the director of Power Shift Africa, based in Nairobi reminded of the outcomes of COP 26.

Coming out of Glasgow, rich countries failed to keep their promise on climate finance, there was little progress on creating a fund for loss and damage and there was a lack of binding emissions reductions,” he said while proposing how Africa needs to approach COP 27.

“This year we have a chance to put things right and get the world back on track. We need to see the victims of the climate crisis put front and centre, with their needs prioritised and those that are most responsible taking real action to address the climate emergency.”

The new UNFCCC executive secretary general Simon Stiell said at a briefing to SDG Media Compact Members on key issues and expectations that there is a need to move from negotiation to implementation. The six-point roadmap that the continent will jointly be relying on has the following key objectives:

a) Delivery of climate finance and other support to Africa 

Success at COP27 ultimately rests on its ability to get money flowing from wealthy countries to those most in need – at the pace and scale required to match the climate crisis.

One of the biggest points of tension at COP27 will be the developed world’s failure so far to fulfil its promise to mobilise US$100 billion per year in finance by 2020. 

b) Strengthening adaptation support

Developed countries under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement are required to assist developing countries meet the costs of adapting to the adverse effects of climate change. Adaptation is good for the economy as investing US$1.8 trillion in adaptation between 2020 and 2030 could generate US$7.1 trillion in benefits. At COP26, developed countries agreed to double financial support for adaptation to US$40 billion per year, but they have not yet done this.

c) Addressing climate-induced loss and damage

The current financial and institutional arrangements under the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement are not sufficient to enable African and other developing countries to address such losses and damages fully and effectively. COP27 needs to see the creation of a Loss and Damage Fund.

d) Enhancing ambition on mitigation towards 1.50C

The COP26 Glasgow Climate Pact stressed that national emission reduction plans need to be aligned with a 1.50C temperature limit. Many countries, both developed and developing, have committed to reach net zero emissions by mid-century. But emissions are yet to fall, as global emissions returned to pre-pandemic levels. 

e) Supporting African just transition to clean energy

Africa has an abundance of renewable energy. It has enough wind and solar to become a clean energy superpower. For this to be harnessed, it needs investment and plans for sustainable development that would see new jobs and industries created.

If this potential could be unlocked, huge advances could be made to tackle poverty, improve healthcare and boost prosperity. 

f) Using the UN’s ‘Global Stocktake’ to put fairness at the heart of the climate negotiations

Report by Isaiah Esipisu, Leon Lidigu and Daniel Ogetta