Ruto to address climate talks as Africa suffers heartbreak

in Sharm El Sheikh,Egypt.

President William Ruto having bilateral talks with the President of Rwanda,President Paul Kagame on the sidelines of COP 27 in Sharm El Sheikh,Egypt.

Photo credit: Courtesy | PCS

President William Ruto is today expected to address the world’s biggest climate meeting as Africa yesterday suffered a major heartbreak on day one of the two-week conference.

Yesterday, delegates from all over the world attending the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, were informed that an agreement had been reached after intense negotiations to have loss and damage as an agenda to discuss whether polluting rich nations should compensate poor countries, who are the most vulnerable to climate change, for their suffering but “no later than 2024”.

“This creates, for the first time, an institutionally stable space on the formal agenda of COP and the Paris Agreement to discuss the pressing issue of funding arrangements needed to deal with existing gaps, responding to loss and damage,” COP27 President Sameh Shoukry explained to the opening plenary while making the announcement.

He added that the inclusion of loss and damage as an agenda reflects “a sense of solidarity for the victims of climate disasters”.

The development comes after last year’s COP26 meeting in Glasgow when high-income nations blocked a proposal for a loss and damage financing body and instead backed a three-year dialogue for funding discussions.

Mr Mohammed Adow, who is a delegate and the director at Nairobi-based Power Shift Africa , explained his disappointment while speaking to Nation.

“The decision to kick the can down the road on a loss and damage finance facility means that COP27 is a like a car that stalls on the starting grid. We need to see the loss and damage funding facility agreed to here in Egypt with the funding arrangements then worked out over the next two years,” he said.

“In order to be a success, this ‘African COP’ needs to ensure the interests of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are met,” Mr Adow said. Yesterday’s announcement came just three hours before President Ruto, who will be addressing the meeting on behalf of Africa, landed.

According to the government, President Ruto, who will also be attending the annual conference as the chair of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, will deliver the Kenyan statement as well as on behalf of Africa apart from leading the Kenyan delegation to the conference.

“Coming at a time of interlocking crises including energy and food insecurity, and in the midst of the worst drought in 40 years affecting Kenya and the Horn of Africa region, President Ruto is expected to make a strong case for Kenya and Africa, with African nations still bearing the brunt of the impacts of emissions from the developed world.”

“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. He will also be outlining Kenya’s policies and strategies to tap into the global carbon market,”the government highlighted in an official briefing while reiterating its stand that climate change mitigation and adaptation is at the front and centre of President Ruto’s development agenda.

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

According to Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya, Kenya has a plan and is determined to achieve it.

“Kenya is steadfast and committed to the success of COP27 and Africa Group Priorities; loss and damage; adaptation finance; special needs and circumstances for Africa and keeping the mitigation momentum on 1.5°C alive.”

In an earlier meeting with the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Mr Simon Steil, the CS underscored that, as chair of the Committee of African Heads of State on Climate Change, Kenya would rally African countries to have their priorities given the necessary attention. As a continent, Africa last week developed a six-point road-map to COP27.

Ambassador Mohamed Nasr, who is the lead negotiator at COP27 Presidency and Director of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development Department, Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is of the view that the continent’s needs must be prioritised.

“The world faces many challenges right now, not least food and energy crises. But the climate crisis cannot be ignored, it continues to devastate the lives and livelihoods of the poorest people and without swift and substantial action, things will only get worse.”

Africa’s six-point plan has the following key objectives, according to the official document; delivery of climate finance and other support to Africa and other developing countries, strengthening adaptation support, addressing climate-induced loss and damage, enhancing ambition on mitigation towards 1.5C ,supporting African just transition to clean energy and using the UN’s ‘Global Stocktake’ to put fairness at the heart of the climate negotiations.