Africa toughens stance at climate talks

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Daily Graphic, Paris

The African delegation to the Paris climate talks strengthened their position today in the wake of suggestions that any climate agreement would likely have few enforcement teeth.

"We need a binding agreement or we will be back to square one", the President of the African Development Group, Dr Anthony Akinwumi Adesina remarked.

Dr Adesina was addressing ministers from Niger, Gabon, Uganda, Egypt, Namibia and also heads of delegation from other African countries including Ghana during a Ministerial Dialogue on December 7, which the UN declared ‘Africa Day’. He said that climate change is the single most threatening environmental challenge to Africa.

 "We must leave Paris with an effective agreement. Africa has not come begging but with solutions. Africa's INDCs are the most ambitious, and demonstrates its preparedness to reducing carbon emissions."

The continent, he said, would need support aligned with the 'Common but Differentiated Responsibilities' principle that those most responsible for climate change—the industrialized countries—bear the bulk of the costs to ensure that the continent is able to prepare for and recover from its impacts. He asked developed countries to set binding targets for carbon emissions to slow the emission of green house gases leading to global warming.

Similarly, the President of the Pan-African Parliament, Mr Roger Nkodo Dang, also remarked to the delegation: " Africa is not here to beg but to be a part of the solution in the fight against climate change".

Renewable Request

Africa is among others asking developed countries to support its countries with adequate funding and technology transfer for adaptation and mitigation of climate change effects. "Our ambitions must be as big as the enormity of the threats of climate change to global prosperity, peace and security and to humanity’s very survival", said Ghana’s Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Mohammed Ayariga. “We cannot go home without a binding enforceable multilateral agreement that allays their fears and gives them hope and a sense of security that they will not lose their homes, livelihoods and even lives to floods, internal and international migration, and conflicts; and that we shall halt the encroachment of the Sahara desert and restore their degraded lands and forests.” Ghana committed, in its INDC, to lowering the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2030. Ayariga said it would need an additional $23 billion over the next ten years to accelerate those reductions by expanding the renewable energy industry that already has a foothold in the country.

Current situation

At current emission levels, global temperatures could rise as much as three degrees by the middle of the century if drastic measures are not taken to address the factors leading to this development. "To put this into perspective, for each 1 degree of temperature increase, grain yields decline by about 5 per cent. Maize, wheat and other major crops have experienced significant yield reductions at the global level of 40 megatonnes per year between 1981 and 2002 due to a warmer climate", concludes the most recent IPCC report.

Already, many countries on the continent are facing the impacts of climate change recording in recent times severe droughts, floods, and food insecurity precipitated by land degradation deforestation.