Home » General » Africa Pinning Its Hopes On Lima [column]

AS the annual climate talks opened in Lima, Peru, last week, the UN’s top climate change executive, Christina Figueres, highlighted that “consolidating of progress on adaptation to achieve political parity with mitigation, given the equal urgency of both” was one of the key expected outcomes from the two-week negotiations.

That, of course, is in addition to the equally important overarching objective of coming up with the draft new global climate change text ahead of the decisive Paris 2015 conference. The issue of scaling up adaptation to the mitigation level under the UN climate change negotiating process has moved slowly since Bali in 2007, but has now begun to occupy greater space in the past three years.

The target is to mobilise political will that elevates adaptation, a crucial intervention for African nations, to become a central pillar of any future agreement, together with mitigation, technology transfer and finance.

During last week’s talks at Lima, the African Group proposed on December 3 that the new climate deal sets a global goal on adaptation, much in the same manner as say the goals on finance or mitigation.

When adaptation is set as a goal, it means world governments will be compelled to work towards achieving that goal. It becomes a binding priority, unlike when adaptation is an element in a bigger agreement it can easily be shuffled to the back, which has been the case until now.

There was early resistance. New Zealand opposed outright a long-term world goal on adaptation, and backed by Australia, both “did not support linkages between mitigation ambition, adaptation needs, the global temperature goal and finance”.

While Ghana, for the African Group, stressed “dimensions of the adaptation goal should be both quantitative and qualitative”, it is also crucial to point out Australia has always dragged its feet on ger climate action.

At the special UN climate summit in September in New York, Australia, one of the giant emitters of the past and present, committed to reduce emissions by just 5 percent by 2020.

The Australian Foreign Affairs Minister claimed at the time that would be a 22 percent reduction from business-as-usual scenario levels. At Lima, the Least Developed Countries were in favour of a long-term goal on adaptation, proposing “a clearing house to help those lacking capacity access the best adaptation technologies . . . ”

China disappointed

Su Wei, China head of delegation, blasted Australia for not doing enough to help poor countries combat climate change. The Pacific Ocean island has refused to provide funding for the crucial Green Climate Fund, which received $9,7 billion pledges-worth last month.

Wei announced for the first time how China will curb emissions until 2030 following its landmark deal with the US on November 20.

The Asian giant plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions across all industries and to increase carbon capture by strengthening its forest policy.

Australia’s mischievous resistance is worrying and could potentially harm chances for a robust, credible and solid agreement acceptable to all. Canada, where emissions are expected to grow 10 percent over the next few years, did not want the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to address mitigation and adaptation as twin targets that warrant “political parity”.

It wants that replaced with “elevating their critical importance”. The brazen flaw in Canada’s proposition is that both mitigation and adaptation are issues known to be of critical importance already, though Canadians may think differently. And this kind of thinking is what has prompted the need for mobilising greater political will to galvanise adaptation into the core of the Convention, without which, any new agreement will be fragile.

That message must also be understood by Japan, which on December 4 “stressed the need to clarify that mitigation is the ultimate goal of the Convention”.

It was already clear last Thursday that on commitment for support, the West favoured an approach that compels “all parties in a position to do so” to offer assistance for implementation of the new agreement.

That would mean calling to financial action emerging economies like China and South Africa, and even some in the developing world, if they can prove to hold the financial clout.

China wouldn’t have it. It said only developed countries have the “responsibility to provide support to developing countries”, and warned against introducing fresh rules. By so doing, China, the world number two economy is not only exempting self from financial obligation, but also pinning down industrialised states keen to defer responsibility to those not responsible for causing climate change.

Mounting pressure

Pressure mounted from the US, the EU and Australia calling on every country to submit unconditional commitments, and “to maintain a schedule of actions they intend to take to meet their commitments, with periodic reporting on implementation and revisions to enhance commitments”.

Industrialised countries want the concept of annexing countries as provided for under the Kyoto Protocol abolished, and in its place a system that binds every nation, big or small, to action.

The global goal is to keep temperature rise at a maximum 2 degrees Celsius in this century. Developing countries, who are most at risk of climate impacts, now want that goal tightened to 1,5 degrees Celsius.

To achieve that, the world’s biggest polluters, both historic and present, and found in the West, must cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80 percent, as well as avail funding and technology to help poor countries cope.

The evidence of climate change is already biting hard in Africa, with increased frequency and extremity of drought or flood events, and general increased warming.

In Zimbabwe, temperatures have climbed 0,7 degrees Celsius since the early 20th century while crop output is seen declining by between 20 percent and 50 percent by 2030 due to heightened water scarcity.

The UN panel on climate change warned earlier this year 2014 was on course to becoming the warmest year in three decades. Backgrounded by such evidence, the negotiators in Lima are well aware of the great risks at stake. They do not need reminding.

But by end of last week, it remained unclear whether Lima will deliver the kind of action necessary to keep this world a safe, liveable place. Many issues, including loss and damage, finance and technology remained outstanding.

“We have a mandate from science, from our people, from the continent of Africa, and from the United Nations itself to push for enhanced global climate action to cut GHG emissions as well as strengthen adaptation this will be a priority for us,” Nagmeldin El Hassan, chair of the African Group, said in a statement on December 2.

“Recent pledges to the Green Climate Fund are a small first step, but funding around $2,4 billion per year is not close to the actual need, and is a far cry from the $100 billion pledged for 2020.

“Lima should provide a clear roadmap for how finance contributions will increase step-by-step to 2020”, he said.

God is faithful.


Source : The Herald