AFRICA NEWS: Africa: What African Countries Did Out of #AfricaClimateCrisis COP26

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News


The 26th United Nations climate change conference, COP26, recently came to an end, having aimed to get countries united in the fight against climate change. Despite being the continent most responsible for climate change, Africa is likely to be hardest hit by climate change issues. We asked Mouhamadou Bamba Sylla the AIMS-Canada Research Chair in Climate Change Science at AIMS-Rwanda, who is a lead author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report 6 for Working Group 1, what the conference meant for African countries.

What was the agenda that African countries took to COP26?

According the African Group of Negotiators ,, the main African agenda items may be summarized as follows.

Climate responsibility: Developed nations have to take their responsibilities and lead the way to reaching zero net emissions by 2050.

Adaptation and climate finance: Developed countries must mobilise sufficient funds to finance adaptation in developing nations that are negatively affected by climate change. It is important to establish a financial architecture and transparent mechanisms.

Transfer of technologies and capacity building: Developed nations must transfer sound environmental technologies to African countries for effective climate adaptation, mitigation and transition.

Long-term climate financing: Developed nations have to meet their pre-2020 commitment of US$100 billion per year and agree on long-term climate financing.

Which of their agenda items did they get through?

It’s hard to say. There were many announcements. Many countries agreed to “phase out” fossil fuels. These are just promises and they will remain so unless they are included in their Nationally Determined Contributions as formal commitments for full reporting and accountability. If they do, it will put the world on track for a best estimate of 2.40C of global warming rather than 2.70C it was before COP26.

We are very far from net-zero emissions, which is a carbon neutral world, by 2050.

The recently released IPCC working group 1 report dealing with the physical science basis of climate change is clear. It is impossible to limit global warming to 1.5degC, or even 2degC unless there are rapid, large-scale, and immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emission. This requires enormous efforts to reduce emissions rapidly, particularly from developed countries.

Therefore, the level of commitments made at COP26 is a total failure.

In terms of climate adaptation, some progress has been made. The annual commitment of US$100 billion from developed countries to support adaptation and mitigation in the least developed countries was not met. In 2019, the total climate finance was estimated at US$79.6 billion, with one quarter dedicated to adaptation. Now in the Glasgow climate pact, it is agreed that developed nations will at least double their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation to developing countries from 2019 levels by 2025. This will amount to around US$40 billion. However, this is insufficient compared to the wanted 50: 50 balance between adaptation and mitigation. At the moment it is 40 to adaptation and 60 to mitigation.

Developed countries refuse to take any historical responsibility for the cost of losses and damages from the impacts of climate change, such as hurricanes and sea level rise.

Therefore, the financial outcome of COP26 is a glass half full, but it’s not far from a failure.

Whose agenda did African countries come back with?

It’s hard to determine, as there were a lot of compromises. They did not return with their agenda fully fulfilled. The high cost of travel, the pandemic, and other logistical difficulties meant that African voices were not heard.

How much damage or good will somebody else’s agenda cause to African countries?

A lot of damage. Most of the least developed nations are located in Africa. These countries lack the infrastructure and funds to deal with the negative effects of climate change. The recently released IPCC report states in its chapter 12 with high confidence that increases in temperature extremes, including heat stress and heatwaves, coastal changes, including coastal flooding, erosion and sea level rise, and extreme precipitation events will be common in Africa by the mid-century.

The report also states that every fraction of degree matters as it leads to discernible changes in these hazards. Right now after Glasgow, the best estimate is that the world is on course to reach 2.40C of global warming. This is a far cry from 1.50C. Africa must raise its voice so that it can be included in the negotiations.

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Is there room for improvement and where?

The contributions and national commitments at COP26 are purely voluntary. The agreement is non-binding. If COP is looking for a stronger agreement, there are many improvements that can be made.

Africa needs more coordination and more science. The African Union commission and other political bodies on the continent should be involved more in this process.

The continent also needs to fund climate change science. It’s difficult to predict the effects of 1.50C, 20C or 30C global warming on various sectors like energy, water resources and infrastructure. It is still unclear how these sectors will respond to global warming.

Mouhamadou Bamba Sylla, AIMS-Canada Research Chair in Climate Change Science, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences

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