COP28: Time for Africa to take the lead in climate change action By UCHE ANUNNE 

COP28 begins on 30 November and will play host to a series of first-time events for the UN climate crisis talks.


Between Nov. 30 and Dec. 12, global attention will shift to the magnificent city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates as world leaders, climate change activists and environmentalists converge on the city for the 28th edition of Conference of Parties (CoP28).

The conference will bring together stakeholders to review progress made so far in the implementation of previous declarations and further push climate change actions among countries across the world.

It is also an opportunity for the global community to negotiate, exchange ideas and produce declarations that would seek to strengthen global efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change, and encourage climate-friendly behaviours.

Ahead of COP 28, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the crucial COP28 talks in Dubai should outline “dramatic climate action” to tame climate change impact, warning leaders that “we’re out of road” on global warming.

“Leaders can’t kick the can any further. Present trends are racing our planet down a dead-end three-degree temperature rise.

“In short, the report shows that the emissions gap is more like an emissions canyon. A canyon littered with broken promises, broken lives, and broken records”. Guterres said.

According to him, all of this is a failure of leadership, a betrayal of the vulnerable, and a massive missed opportunity.

The UN chief, therefore, warned that the planet is on a path for disastrous heating at between 2.5C and 2.9C by 2100, while based on existing policies and emissions-cutting efforts, global warming will reach 3C.

With this harsh outlook, no bloc needs to heed that call from the UN chief more than Africa, whose poor technology and scarce resources make it more vulnerable to negative climate change effects than any other region of the world.

Many yeas of industrialization by European and American countries have unleashed so much unhealthy substances into the ozone layer, so also the huge emission from the transportation sector including sea and rail.

Though Africa’s contribution to global emissions is less than 4 percent, experts say the continent ought to demonstrate commitment in addressing climate change.

This, they say, is necessary as the continent’s rain forests continue to vanish and desertification occur at breath-taking speed while crisis such as famers-herders clashes in places like Nigeria continue over sharing of natural resources.

Security experts said in Nigeria, the effect of climate change has been driving herders south wards as grazing land shrinks in the north.

Many other African countries have similar experience, including the drying of lakes, rivers and springs.

It is apt to note that in recent years, African leaders have shown some glimpses of desire to change the narrative.

At the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Summit, they demonstrated their commitment to regular engagement towards addressing climate change.

They have for a start, agreed that Kenya and the AU co-host the African Climate Summit (ACS) biannually.

At the inaugural summit in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, held between Sept. 4th and 6th 2023, the Africa Leaders Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and Call to Action was adopted.

The Declaration is a manifestation of practical actions that the continent is taking to address climate change challenges.

The declaration made it clear how the world is not on track to cutting down global emissions by 43 per cent and keeping the temperature within the 1.50C limit as agreed in the Paris Agreement.

This inaction by the western countries has made Africa to suffer adversely from the effects of climate change.

Africa was also isolated from getting access to the global energy renewal investments, getting only two per cent of the $3tn in the last decade despite having over 40 per cent of the world’s renewable energy resources.

This attitude behoves on the continent to collaborate in tapping its immense green opportunities to solve the climate crisis in Africa.

There are however skeptics who question why African nations, confronted by so many developmental challenges, should bother about the developed world’s `climate change hullabaloo’.

The natural answer to the question is that `a safe environment is good for all’.

It is important for sceptics to realise that climate change creates food and security crisis, and worsen draught and desertification conditions in the continent.

Already, many African countries are faced with food crisis and cannot afford further worsening of the situation, thus the imperative to take decisive climate action.

The dangers were profoundly highlighted in the 2019 joint report by African Development Bank, UN Economic Commission for Africa and United Nations Environment Programme.

The report said African countries stand to lose should they fail to accelerate climate change negotiation and drive.

“Climate change and climate variability could lead to severe macroeconomic consequences as early as 2030,” the report said.

It added that “In all African regions, negative climate change impacts would progressively compound and lead to decreasing GDP per capita.

“The warming scenarios entail losses by 2030 (as compared to a baseline GDP per capita scenario) that range from -0.6 per cent in Northern Africa in the low warming scenario, to -3.6 per cent in Eastern African in the high-warming scenario.”

The report said if the emissions continue to worsen, “Northern and Southern Africa would experience a decrease in GDP per capita approaching 10 per cent by 2050.”

Also, a 2021 report for IMF anchored by Diego Miguelet and his team of researchers advanced that poor agricultural practices is exacerbating food insecurity due to climate change impact in South Saharan Africa (SSA).

“Deforestation hampers forests’ CO2 capture and exposes agricultural lands to inclement weather (for example, leading to erosion, landslides, desertification).

“The share of SSA’s forests in total land has been declining, with substantial deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire.

“Climate change is intensifying food insecurity across sub-Saharan Africa with lasting adverse macroeconomic effects, especially on economic growth and poverty“, the report added.

A former member of House of Representatives, Dr Sam Onuigbo, said African countries should take the driver’s seat in climate change efforts because failure to do so would hurt their economies profoundly in the future.

Onuigbo sponsored the Climate Change Bill passed by the 9th National Assembly which was signed into law, which is often referred to by stakeholders as the `Sam Onuigbo Climate Change Act’.

He said the only option for Africa to tame the climate change impact is to tap its huge renewable energy resources to avoid being stranded when the world abandon fossil fuel.

“Most industrialised regions and markets for Africa’s fossil fuel in places like China, Europe, US, India, etc., are today rapidly transitioning to cleaner forms of energy through massive investments in this sector.

“When the transition is completed, countries in Africa that are dependent on fossil fuel for revenue will have little to no markets and consequently be left with stranded assets.

“Secondly, science has shown that fossil fuels play a huge role in driving climate change and thus destroying our world. Since Africa is heavily impacted by climate change, it amounts to self-sabotage to continue with what negatively impacts its people,” he argued.

According to him, in spite of the seeming negative outlook, Africa still needs to industrialise in order to position itself as a fully developed continent capable of addressing the critical issues of poverty, hunger, disease, unemployment, infrastructural deficit, among others.

Onuigbo who was recently nominated into Climate Action 30 Global Leaders 2023, part of Business Insider’s One Planet programme, said Africa should deploy technology and plan appropriately to utilise its vast renewable energy sources as springboard to sustainable and prosperous future.

Investment experts say the clean energy sub-sector presents the continent with investment opportunities that will lead to job and wealth creation, thus addressing some of the pressing challenges facing African nations.

Africa’s private sector is committed to investing in green projects, equitable wages and supporting market and trade opportunities, a recent media report quoted the CEO of Equity Bank, Kenya, James Mwangi, as saying.

With this commitment, it is important for the continent leaders at the Dubai COP 28 conference to push for fair, implementable climate actions that will enable African countries to leverage opportunities that would lead to effective climate conversation for the good of all. (NANFeatures).

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