Africa speaks with one voice on the issue of climate change

Site web, Banque africaine de développement, 7 décembre 2009

Interview with Anthony Okon Nyong, Head of Unit, Gender, Climate Change and Sustainable Development, African Development Bank

Question : How important is the issue of climate change for Africa?

Answer: African nations, in both absolute and per capita terms, are not significant sources of emissions on a global scale, but bear a disproportionately larger negative impact of climate change.

Climate change poses an additional burden to the continent, which is currently grappling with the challenge of meeting basic developmental needs. In fact, the continent is at risk of a reversal of the modest gains made thus far towards achieving the MDGs, if the projected negative impacts of climate change are not addressed in the near term.

Considering that climate change poses a formidable threat to the continent’s economic development, Africa needs to seek ways of building resilience into its climate sensitive economic sectors to ensure sustained economic growth.

This ultimately creates competition for the scarce financial resources available. However, climate change is also providing the impetus for the continent to chart a low carbon intensive development pathway that will ensure that the continent does not become a major polluter in its quest for development. This requires substantial financial, technical and human resources that are currently outside the continent’s reach.

Africa Acting Together
Question: What prompted Africa to act together and adopt a common position for the Copenhagen conference on climate change? Could it be the 2008 Algiers Declaration or the 2009 Nairobi Declaration?

Answer: The risks posed by climate change do not respect political boundaries as they are common to the entire continent. There is no single part of the continent that is spared its deleterious impacts, as basic human survival is threatened everywhere on the continent.

This threat has therefore served as a rallying point for all African leaders to seek a common solution to the problem. It underlies the continent’s bid to develop a common coherent African position and to speak with one voice in on-going negotiations. It is also important to send a clear message to Africans and to the world that African leaders take the issue of climate change very seriously, that Africa wants to be a part of the solution to the global climate change crisis.

Question: What is the African position?

Answer: Africans have voiced their concerns and recommendations on a number of issues:

Adaptation to Climate Change
Africans urge urgent international cooperation on the implementation of adaptation actions as well as according adaptation the same level of priority and emphasis as that given to mitigation globally. The continent seeks the establishment of a global adaptation action program that will implement, support and facilitate urgent and immediate adaptation actions, and build the continent’s resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Africa is advocating for the building of a firewall between developed country commitments and developing country actions. There is an objection to the continued reliance on offsets by developed countries for meeting their commitments, insisting that these commitments should be met primarily domestically. The continent also demands that developed country emission reductions include specific targets, be subject to a compliance regime and be comparable in terms of efforts made.

Technology and Capacity Building
Africans are urging for a commitment by developed countries to deploy and transfer accessible, affordable, appropriate and adaptable technologies to developing countries for enhanced action on both adaptation and mitigation. Developed countries should commit to providing full costs and incremental costs to support the development of adaptation and mitigation technologies, as enshrined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Furthermore, African negotiators are asking for the removal of barriers to technology transfer, which includes addressing intellectual property rights for the development and deployment of climate-friendly technologies. They are also asking developed countries to commit to strengthening the institutional capacity of developing countries to undertake climate action.

Financing Africans support the establishment of new financing mechanisms to deliver financial resources that are adequate, predictable, sustainable and additional to existing ODA. The financial mechanisms should ensure a transparent governance structure, ease of access to funds by developing countries, and an effective disbursement mechanism. They also request that developed countries commit to a target of 0.5% of their GDP for climate action in developing countries.

Moreover, they also urge that financial incentives be developed to implement adaptation actions on the basis of sustainable development policies; and that positive incentives be adopted for developing countries to enhance the implementation of national mitigation strategies and adaptation actions.

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