African leaders demonstrate commitment and action to address climate change
African Heads of State and Government marked Africa Day at the African Pavilion at the UNFCCC 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) with focused and strategic discussions on the ratification and roll out of the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the key continental initiatives to support member states’ efforts.
PAP President, Hon. Roger Dang took part in the activities of the day. President Alpha Condé of the Republic of Guinea presided over the High Level gathering also attended by the Presidents of Botswana, Ian Khama; Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Togo, Faure Gnassingbe and as well as Ministers from the continent, heads of Pan African Institutions, the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa, NEPAD Commission as well as development partners. The event’s dual themes were “Moving from Commitment to Action with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in Africa” and “The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative: Moving Forward”
As Climate Change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world, with Africa already experiencing some of the most severe impacts, the continent’s leaders have proactively responded with the establishment of the Committee of Africa Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) and the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) on Climate that have thus far, tremendously influenced global negotiations.
The Presence of heads of state at COP22 and the Africa Day event further demonstrate the importance placed on securing the continent’s interests within the global climate governance mechanism and in defining the roadmap to reduce global temperature rise ‘well below’ 2oC goal, considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the threshold of averting dangerous human interference with the climate system.
COP21 held in Paris in December 2015 delivered the landmark Paris Agreement that committed all countries to limit the increase in the global average temperature this century to “well below 2° C above pre-industrial levels” and to pursue efforts to “limit the temperature increase to 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels”. The Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs) emerged as the game changer and primary mechanism for reducing global temperature rise. To date 46 African countries have signed the Paris Agreement and 27 out of 103 countries have ratified the Agreement that entered into force on 4th November 2016.
Africa has seized the opportunity of COP22, dubbed the action COP, to further demonstrate leadership on the implementation of the Paris Agreement, including through the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), in ensuring that the means of implementation indicated in the Paris Agreement, namely finance, capacity building and technology development and transfer are provided, as these represent the cornerstones of implementation for Africa.
Beyond COP22 the clear alignment of NDCs with existing national development priorities and other ongoing climate change initiatives such as the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) and the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), based on national circumstances and capabilities of individual African countries, is critical.
Implementation will be enhanced and supported by pan-African initiatives and programmes operating through a range of partnerships, two of which are: The African Adaptation Initiative (AAI) and; the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). The latter seeks to achieve at least 300 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2020. It is supported by the governments of France and Germany.
Emphasising the importance of energy access President Condé noted that that out of 1 billion Africans 700 million have no access to energy. “Since 2002, we have fought to ensure that production is accelerated and increased’ expressing satisfaction at the funding for AREI is an indicator that Europe is taking steps to deliver on commitments for implementation.
President Conde said that Africa needs to develop on the basis of an energy mix “but we also need to develop fast, and the faster Africa has access to energy the faster Africa will develop”, he said. AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina said energy is the engine of Africa’s growth and development and reinforced the need for an energy mix of on and off-grid systems. “Let’s turn pledges on paper into projects on the ground. Let us together deliver success for Africa. Let us together light up and power Africa!” he stated.
The President of the Pan African Parliament, Hon. Roger Nkodo Dang said this would be a pertinent and historic commemoration for the continent, but emphasizes that more collaboration is vital for achievement of the set goals. “Our countries need to ensure prompt response to agreements and instruments meant to develop our own countries and to improve the lives of our fellow citizens. That way, we will achieve a better Africa through one voice. This day should lay a solid foundation for implementation beyond COP 22. I therefore implore member states to respond swiftly by drawing and implementing their national programs in response to the Paris Agreement,” the PAP President echoed.
Egypt’s Minister of Environment and President of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), Mohammed Fahmy, welcomed the initiatives and encouraged good governance and transparency as the foundation of implementation.
COP21 and 22 Presidents, Segolène Royal of France and Salaheddine Mezouar of Morocco, also participated in the event. ‘This is an African COP, the biggest economies must fulfil their commitments to Africa’, said Ms Royal, who insisted that the agreement between the European commission and the African representatives be concluded without delay.
‘Africa must and will electrify at the lowest cost’, said COP22 President Salaheddine Mezouar, noting that it was time to put an end to clichés about African countries’ ability to carry out projects.