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African leaders to strengthen fight against climate change

African heads of state have committed to developing and implementing policies, regulations and incentives aimed at attracting local, regional and global investment in green growth and inclusive economies.

The resolution is contained in a communique issued at the end of the three-day Africa Climate Summit 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya yesterday.

The leaders said they are committed to propelling Africa’s economic growth and job creation in a manner that limits the continent’s own emissions and also aids global decarbonisation efforts by rapidly changing the traditional progression of industrial development and fostering green production and supply chains on a global scale.

“…we the African heads of state and government [leaders] assembled in the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi now make this declaration in the presence of global leaders and high-level representatives on this 6th day of September 2023, in Nairobi, Kenya,” the communique reads in part

The meeting drew various leaders from 54 African states including heads of state, ministers, civil society organisations and development partners.

However, Uganda’s President Museveni did not attend the event and there was no high-level delegation to represent the country. No official explanation has been given as to why Uganda was not represented.

However, the President attended the Uganda-South African Business Summit at Munyonyo, Kampala yesterday.

During the summit, Mr Museveni, who was the chief guest, said he had contracted a cold which he initially thought was Covid-19.

“However, when I tested for Covid-19, they found I [did not have] Covid-19, so I cannot infect you, but when I go near you, I will put on my mask so that I don’t infect you with my cold,” he said during the closure of the two-day event.

Back in Kenya, the leaders who attended the summit say the commitments made will also affect the countries whose leaders did not show up.

 “We commit to focus our economic development plans on climate-positive growth, including expansion of just energy transitions and renewable energy generation for industrial activity, climate-smart and restorative agricultural practices, and essential protection and enhancement of nature and biodiversity,” the communique states.

The leaders pledged to strengthen actions to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, deforestation, and desertification, as well as restore degraded land.

They said strengthening continental collaboration, which is essential for enabling and advancing green growth is key in combating the negative consequences of climate change.

Key on the agenda is the advancement of green industrialisation across the continent by prioritising energy-intense industries to trigger a virtuous cycle of renewable energy deployment, with a special emphasis on adding value to Africa’s natural endowments.

They said the continent will have to redouble its efforts to boost agricultural yields through sustainable agricultural practices, to enhance food security while minimising negative environmental impacts.

They also committed to finalising implementation of the African Union Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, with the view to realising the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature through providing all the necessary reforms and support required to raise the share of renewable energy financing by at least 20 percent by 2030.

The leaders agreed to integrate climate, biodiversity and ocean agendas into national plans and processes in order to ensure their contribution to sustainable development, livelihoods and sustainability objectives and to increase the resilience of local communities, coastal areas and national economies.

 “We emphasise the importance of embracing indigenous knowledge and citizen science in both adaptation strategies and early warning systems. Enhance drought resilience systems to shift from crisis management to proactive drought preparedness and adaptation, to significantly reduce drought vulnerability of people, economic activities, and ecosystems,” the communique reads.

The leaders said Africa is warming faster than the rest of the world and if unabated, climate change will continue to have adverse impacts on African economies and societies, and hamper growth.

According to the leaders, many African countries face disproportionate burdens and risks arising from climate change.

The risks include prolonged droughts, devastating floods and wildfires, which cause massive humanitarian crises with detrimental impacts on economies, health, education, peace and security, among other risks.

“Climate change is the single greatest challenge facing humanity and the single biggest threat to all life on earth, demanding urgent and concerted action from all nations to lower emissions and reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” they stated.

Data available indicates that while Africa contributes very little to global warming, the continent suffers the biggest impact.

Despite the challenges, the leaders say Africa is ready to create an enabling environment, enact policies and facilitate investments necessary to unlock resources to meet the continent’s climate commitments and contribute meaningfully to the decarbonisation of the global economy.

“We call upon the global community to act with urgency in reducing emissions, fulfilling its obligations, keeping past promises and supporting the continent in addressing climate change,” they said.

This, they said, will accelerate all efforts to reduce emissions to align with goals set forth in the Paris Agreement, honour the commitment to provide $100 billion in annual climate finance and uphold commitments to a fair and accelerated process of phasing down coal, and the abolishment of all fossil fuel subsidies.

“We call for climate-positive investments that catalyse a growth trajectory, anchored in the industries poised to transform our planet and enable African countries to achieve stable middle-income status by 2050,” the leaders said.

The African leaders called on development partners from both the global south and north to align and coordinate their technical and financial resources directed towards Africa to promote sustainable utilisation of the continent’s natural assets for the its progression towards low carbon development and contributing to global decarbonisation.

The leaders said to accomplish this vision of economic transformation in harmony with climate needs, the international community should contribute to increasing Africa’s renewable generation capacity from 56GW in 2022 to at least 300GW by 2030, both to address energy poverty and to bolster the global supply of cost-effective clean energy for industry.

They called for access to and transfer of environmentally sound technologies including technologies that consist of processes and innovation methods to support Africa’s green industrialisation and transition.

They called for a concrete, time-bound action on the proposals to reform the multilateral financial system currently under discussion to better leverage the balance sheets of multilateral development banks to scale up concessional finance to at least $500b per year.

They said this will build resilience to climate shocks, including better deployment of the Special Drawing Right (SDR) liquidity mechanism and disaster suspension clauses.

“We propose consideration for a new SDR issue for climate crisis response of at least the same magnitude as the Covid-19 issue ($650b). Better leveraging of the balance sheets of MDBs to scale up concessional finance to at least $500b per year. Measures to improve debt management, including, the inclusion of ‘debt pause clauses’, and the Global Expert Review on Debt, Nature and Climate proposed by Colombia, Kenya, and France on the occasion of the Paris Summit for a New Global Financing Pact,” the leaders said.

The African leaders have urged world leaders to rally behind the proposal for a global carbon taxation regime including a carbon tax on fossil fuel trade, maritime transport and aviation.

They said this may also be augmented by a global financial transaction tax to provide dedicated, affordable, and accessible finance for climate-positive investments at scale, and ring-fencing of these resources and decision-making from undue influence from geopolitical and national interests.

About climate change

Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. Such shifts can be natural, due to changes in the sun’s activity or large volcanic eruptions. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.

Burning fossil fuels generates greenhouse gas emissions that act like a blanket wrapped around the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures.

The main greenhouse gases that are causing climate change include carbon dioxide and methane. These come from using gasoline for driving a car or coal for heating a building, for example. Clearing land and cutting down forests can also release carbon dioxide. Agriculture, oil and gas operations are major sources of methane emissions. Energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and land use are among the main sectors causing greenhouse gases.

Source: United Nations website

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