African countries stand to gain from climate change conference

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In May, the Allied for Climate Transformation by 2025 (ACT2025) consortium, which includes local and global organizations based in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America, released five results it would like to see from COP26. These are:

  • more ambitious national climate targets (Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs) of developed countries in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree target by 2025, by which date they must then be submitted to the ‘UN. The CVF wants even stricter measures to be adopted, obliging each country to present a new climate plan each year until 2025;
  • increased and accessible financing for vulnerable countries, including sovereign debt relief where money will be redirected to green projects;
  • increased support for adaptation efforts, including methodologies and metrics to measure progress. The CVF manifesto also calls for a more equitable distribution of climate finance between adaptation and mitigation measures – adaptation currently accounts for only 21% of total climate finance, according to the OECD;
  • increased action and support for loss and damage from climate impacts where adaptation is not possible. This should include more streamlined funding approaches and the effective operationalization of the Santiago Loss and Damage Network, established at COP25 to coordinate technical assistance in the aftermath of inevitable climate damage. The CVF also recommended that this take place;
  • rules and architecture finalized under the Paris Agreement, including guidelines for implementing the Paris Regulation, carbon market mechanisms under Article 6, ensuring a clear common end date for countries’ emission reduction targets and the first global climate “report”. The CVF has suggested that at least 5% of the revenue from any carbon market mechanism be used to finance urgent adaptation work in the most vulnerable countries.

Other potential opportunities identified by the chair of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change include negotiating exemptions for developing countries from carbon tariffs; avoid the transfer by developed countries of their climate responsibilities, such as cumulative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, to developing countries; and explicit assurances that the response to the Covid-19 pandemic will not derail climate efforts.

What has been agreed so far?

Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), countries are classified as “industrialized”, “economies in transition” and least developed countries (LDCs). The 49 LDCs, including 33 African countries, enjoy special status under the treaty, given their limited capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change.

More developed countries are required under Article 9 of the UNFCCC to provide financial and technical support to ITSs and LDCs to assist them in their efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Under Article 4, developed countries are expected to lead by example in setting economy-wide reduction targets, while developing countries should instead continue to intensify their mitigation efforts while being encouraged to progress towards economy-wide goals over time.

To facilitate the provision of climate finance, the UNFCCC has established a financial mechanism to provide financial resources to developing countries. The mechanism is accountable to the parties to the agreement who decide on its policies, program priorities and eligibility criteria for funding. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has served as the operational entity of the financial mechanism since the entry into force of the UNFCCC in 1994.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF), the main UN climate finance mechanism, was created at COP16 in 2010. In 2011, it was also designated as the operational entity of the financial mechanism.

Developed countries have pledged contributions of up to $ 100 billion per year to the GCF by 2020, with the largest pledges to date coming from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, UK United and a number of BMDs. The United States, at the United Nations General Assembly in September, pledged to increase its annual contribution to $ 11.4 billion by 2024. However, commentators have asserted that the amounts pledged do not reflect sufficiently the relative gross national income and cumulative emissions of each contributor.

The GCF aims to achieve maximum impact in the developing world through its investments, supporting paradigm shifts in mitigation and adaptation. Recent examples of major programs have featured climate finance combined with other sources of development finance, including private sector finance. One example is a climate adaptation project in the eastern province of Rwanda that aims to restore agricultural land that has become increasingly vulnerable to drought. The $ 49.6 million project received $ 33.8 million in GCF grants, to complement funding from cofinancing partners. In Senegal, GCF is providing the concessional financing necessary to mobilize private sector participation in ASER’s solar rural electrification project, with the aim of providing reliable solar energy to households in 1,000 isolated villages.

The CVF, in its manifesto, called on the UK, in its role as president of COP26, to take full responsibility for developing a delivery plan for the $ 100 billion annually committed, which, according to him, should be divided equally between adaptation and mitigation measures. The CVF also called for an independent annual monitoring of the execution plan by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Navigate through funding opportunities

For African countries, one of the challenges is how to best navigate the different sources of funding available. Apart from COPs, these include bilateral agreements with individual developed countries as well as private and corporate finance agreements.

The UK, for example, is already one of the biggest investors in Africa. In January 2020, more than 1,000 delegates attended the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, at which billions of pounds in trade deals were announced as well as new initiatives and funding commitments from the British government. Some of these commitments specifically targeted clean energy and climate-friendly infrastructure, including the creation of a new climate finance accelerator program and a “Clean Energy Pacesetter” initiative with Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Senegal.

CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution, announced new investment pledges worth £ 300m at the summit and plans to invest an additional £ 2bn in Africa d ‘by 2020. By the end of 2020, CDC had invested directly or indirectly in 681 African companies, which represent about 60% of its investment portfolio of $ 7.2 billion.

The UK also announced £ 132million of new investments in Kenya focused on building new affordable green homes, connecting households to clean energy and boosting manufacturing. From a climate point of view, these include a new £ 58m fund, funded by £ 35m investment from the UK government, which will finance the construction of 10,000 affordable green homes; £ 3.3 million from UK-backed InfraCo Africa to fund the expansion of off-grid solar power to 6,000 homes in western Kenya; and government support of £ 3.7million to support the country’s green transition, including projects supporting renewable energy, clean cooling and forest restoration.

Africa’s agricultural sector is particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Extreme weather events such as storms, heavy rainfall and prolonged periods of drought threaten food security across the continent as well as the livelihoods of millions of rural smallholders. To this end, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), together with the GCF, funds projects that strengthen climate resilience, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate sustainable growth in the world. countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of Congo and Republic of Sudan. .

Leveraging the supply chain

The UK is also proposing changes to national laws that would protect unique habitats, including the African rainforest. It intends to impose new due diligence responsibilities on large companies using “forest risk products” in their supply chains, as well as a ban on the use of products grown on illegally deforested land. He is using the Environment Bill, currently before the UK parliament, to push these measures forward.

This approach is designed to work in tandem with existing efforts by governments, communities and businesses in producing countries to enforce national legislation and is presented as a first step. In 2019, the UK created the Global Resource Initiative (GRI), an independent task force bringing together representatives from some of the country’s largest companies. The due diligence requirement was one of the GRI’s first recommendations, and it was tasked with identifying further measures to reduce the impact of major UK supply chains on the global environment.

COP26 as an impetus

There is a real prospect that there will now be a considerable acceleration of activities to identify and implement projects that will use the substantial funds that become available to tackle climate change and related issues around the world by development and signs are that it’s likely to receive additional momentum by COP 26.

For this ambitious agenda to be successful, it will need to be implemented in a way that empowers the developing world as an equal partner in addressing the global climate challenge. Governments and private companies in developing countries will need to be able to take ownership of the opportunities offered to them. They should be entitled to meaningful input and control over how projects are prioritized and executed in their own country.

Further research by Mariam Hassaballah of Pinsent Masons


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