It’s 1.5 degrees or nothing say African negotiators

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The Nation newspaper, Paris

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Nigerian negotiators at the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are insisting on an agreement that would see carbon emission lowered below two degrees Celsius.

The country's lead negotiator, Dr. Adeoye Adejuwon, said Nigeria and other African countries have thrown their weight behind the 1.5 degrees ceiling of carbon emission. Nigeria has a strong negotiating team at the COP21 in Paris and is a leading voice for the African negotiations. 

Africans have been at the receiving end of the effects of climate change even though the continent’s contribution to greenhouse emissions stands an average of just over 1 metric ton of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide per person--about fifteen times less than the average American greenhouse gas contribution.

Meanwhile rising sea level, drought and flood--phenomenon that the IPCC have idenfitied as linked to climate change--are a common feature in many sub-Saharan African countries. “We have made our position very clear. We will not have any agreement that will not be binding, we support the loss and damage inclusion in the final agreement, ”Adejuwon said.

The negotiator said anything outside the 1.5 degrees demanded could be catastrophic for the continent and Nigeria. “ That is dangerous for the world and vulnerable countries like Nigeria with our 853 kilometres stretch of coastal line will be in great danger,” he said.

The African negotiators are strongly in favour of the “Polluter pays” theory saying those responsible for climate change should take the lead in finding a solution. The position of most of the African countries is in line with the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) of Nigeria.

“Nigeria says she will reduce her carbon emission by 20% by 2030 and by 45% if the developed world can give us the needed assistance to end gas flaring,” says Bukar Hassan who is the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment. Nigerian negotiators have described the offer as one of the “most ambitious” yet from the continent.

African Ministers also appeared to be speaking with one voice demanding a legally binding agreement at the Paris talks. The Ministers who spoke under the banner of the African Ministerial Council on Environment (AMCEN) insisted that a binding agreement is not negotiable.

“We want a climate agreement that will obligate all of us to do our part. We are all on this one planet hence we cannot all one country to spoil it for us,” Bright Msaka, Malawian minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining said.

The Ministers said the outcomes in Paris must not go the way of Kyoto Protocol which many developed countries have refused to ratify.

“If we do not have a binding agreement, we may as well not have anything,” Msaka said.

The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwunmi Adesina said the major and historical polluters must take a fair share of responsibility not only to cut their emissions, but also to help the suffering adapt to climate impacts. "All fingers," he said, " "are not equal."