Africa wants results as climate pact goes live
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The Paris deal on climate change entered into force on Friday, one month after the EU ratified the pact reached last December. France hailed November 4th as a historic day in the fight against climate change, while the UN said it was a cause for celebration. But should African countries be celebrating?
"For us, the best way to honour the letter and the spirit of the Paris agreement is to reinforce this agreement," Damien Somé, a research fellow at the Africa Progress Panel told RFI on Friday, shortly after the climate pact came into force.
Last year's agreement saw nearly 200 countries commit to lowering their greenhouse gas emissions to well below 2 degrees Celsius to halt global warming.
Now diplomats will be expected to turn those commitments into concrete action when the next climate conference kicks off in Marrakesh on Monday.
The stakes are high. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb, putting newly ambitious goals for capping rising temperatures potentially out of reach. The other hurdle is money.
"We cannot do anything without finance," admits COP22 Commissioner Abdelâdim Lhafi.
Discussions on how to come up with 100 billion dollars (90 billion euros) per year to help vulnerable countries mitigate the effects of climate change are likely to dampen the spirit of optimism garnered at Cop21.
And despite Friday's adoption of the Paris climate deal a number of thorny issues remain.
Moroccan authorities are choosing to focus on four of them:
- Funding / Eligibility
- Adaptation / Compensation for loss and damage
- Transparency in financing
- Technology Transfer
Cop of Africa
"We need to ensure that the projects which are eligible for climate finance support get the funding they need," COP22 Commissioner Abdelâdim Lhafi told RFI.
Project managers who can prove that they've got innovative solutions to stave off environmental disaster, through agroforestry or solar power projects for instance, will qualify.
The problem afterwards is ensuring the money actually goes towards implementation and isn't swindled.
"The second aspect is adaptation," continues Lhafi. "Africa is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, in this context it deserves special attention at COP22."
Damien Somé agrees. "Many African countries are expecting COP22 to finally be the COP of action."
The Africa Progress Panel last year published a chilling report about the consequences of climate change on Africa.
"What we showed in the report is that African countries are doubly vulnerable to climate change despite having contributed little to global warming. Yet they lack the finance, technology and capacity to adapt," says Somé.
"We need to ensure better cooperation in technology transfer between the North and South, but also establish new pathways between Southern countries," recognizes Lhafi.
Even so, he remains optimistic about the progress achieved thus far.
"It's the first time that such an agreement has been ratified by 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions less than one year after the signature of this important historical agreement in Paris," he said, "so we have to celebrate this day."
With just days to go before COP22, he added "this will give a lot of energy to all the negotiators and civil society to go further to implement this important agreement."
Africa will be waiting. Until delegates demonstrate they're actually implementing what was agreed in Paris, will we see a real catalyst for change, and only then can African countries celebrate.