Africa to speak with one voice at COP28 Prof Matondi

Kudzanai Sharara in Dubai, UAE

African countries will speak with one voice at the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28) which convenes from today to the 12th of  December 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This is according to the Draft African Position paper for COP28 seen by this publication.

The Draft African position, which was prepared by the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN) shows Africa has a common position for COP28.

The continent’s common position is informed by its unique circumstances, being the, lowest in terms of development index, highest in poverty levels and unable to achieve SDGs by 2030 as compared to other regions.

Further, Africa’s unique circumstances are characterised by resource and capacity constraints, climate vulnerabilities, historical and future greenhouse gas  (GHG emissions responsibility, immediate needs for adaptation and mitigation, and a long-term vision for sustainable development.

Despite contributing minimally to historical and current greenhouse gas emissions, Africa is disproportionately subjected to the far-reaching impacts of climate change.

This includes biodiversity loss, dwindling water supplies, diminished food production, loss of human lives, and constrained economic growth.

Recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their Sixth Assessment Reports revealed that developing countries will face an overwhelming burden of adaptation costs, reaching an annual figure of US$127 billion.

Specifically for Africa, the annual cost by 2030, is projected to be a staggering US$86.5 billion.

As a result, for Africa to be able to cope with this existential threat, there is a need for the continent to speak with one voice and call for urgent climate action.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife Professor Prosper Matondi said Africa needs a strong voice if its climate change concerns and what needs to be done are to be heard and acted upon.

Speaking to this publication on the first day of COP28 Prof Matondi said, “Climate change is a global issue and requires a collective voice and also requires agreement on what needs to be done”.

He said that agreement can only be done at part-to-part level.

“I know there are other stakeholders with an interest in this but we need to have Governments agreeing on the basic framing of issues of climate change that affect the ordinary society and also the large economies.

“And for that in Africa, we have a Group of Negotiators on Climate Change and we are trying to coordinate our efforts through the regional bodies we have, it might be SADC, ECOWAS, the East Africa Community or through the Africa Union,” said Prof Matondi.

According to the draft position paper, Africa’s approach to these multilateral climate negotiations is underpinned by principles of multilateralism, equity, sustainable development, and common but differentiated responsibilities.

“African countries will seek to prioritize Africa’s interests and speak with one voice while ensuring that their voices, concerns, and proposals are heard and acted upon,” reads the AGN position paper in part.

This year, African negotiators will be coordinated by Zambia as the Chair of the Africa Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN), Ministers by Senegal as the Chair of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN), and heads of state by Kenya as the Coordinator of the Committee of Africa heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), to effectively advance Africa’s common position on climate change.

There is already a set of guiding principles for the African common position which negotiators will use as a useful guide and source of information and reference in the UNFCCC committees, panels and other climate-related institutions.

One such principle is that of multilateralism. African countries are firmly committed to a multilateral approach to the global challenge of climate change, with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at its centre.

Full implementation of the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement is in the best interest of African countries particularly vulnerable to climate change and already adversely affected.

Africa’s negotiation position is also guided by the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, the principles of historical responsibility, and equity, in light of different national circumstances.

Africa is of the view that developed countries have clear commitments to take the lead on mitigation action and to provide support to developing countries.

At the same time, developing countries have a commitment to take action, determined by them and in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and supported by developed countries.

The continent also seeks justice and equity given its contribution to global GHG emissions remains low (about 3 percent from fossil fuels and industry and 4 percent from LULUCF) but suffers disproportionately from the impacts of climate.

“The African continent endures a disproportionately higher impact from climate change, manifesting in severe weather patterns, reduced agricultural productivity, increased water insecurity, and threatened biodiversity, among others.

“This harsh reality underscores the need for global climate response strategies that are centred on justice and equity, recognising Africa’s low GHG emissions and its heightened vulnerability.

“Consequently, this necessitates increased support for African nations in climate adaptation, resilience-building, and access to climate finance and climate-smart technologies to cope with these stark climate impacts,” reads the draft position paper in part.

In terms of priorities, African countries will prioritise adaptation and will make sure that imminent impacts should not be overlooked and must remain an essential element of any outcome on adaptation.

“Addressing loss and damage as a result of climate change impacts is a critical element of the multilateral response to climate change, both from a legal and from a moral standpoint; loss and damage associated with climate change impacts must be addressed multilaterally in affected countries and communities in a comprehensive manner; both during crises and after crises in rebuilding and rehabilitation.”

Africa will also push for a just transition and get its fair share of the opportunities associated with the transition to a low-carbon global economy.

“Negotiations should further seek to avoid negative impacts on African countries’ economies and national sovereignty; on the contrary, these must address Africa’s urgent sustainable development challenges, and ensure that African countries are at the heart of the low carbon global economy,” reads the draft position paper.

African countries are undertaking ambitious actions to tackle climate change both in adaptation and mitigation; these efforts should be recognised.

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