African Civil Society Organisations Warn Leaders to Act Now at Major Climate Conference
Africa is responsible for less than 4% of emissions, yet it’s the most vulnerable to climate change.
African and world leaders need to act now on climate change.
This is the statement made by the continent’s civil society organisations at Conference of Parties (COP25). COP25, which is hosted by the United Nations, is a gathering of more than 200 nations and provides an annual platform for engaging with climate action.
The climate conference started on Dec. 2 in Madrid, Spain, and will end on Dec. 13.
Speaking on behalf of Pan Africa Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Dr. Mithika Mwenda emphasised the global message that climate action needs to be treated as an urgent issue.
“We know the science is clear about the level [at which] we need to act, yet we procrastinate and prevaricate while maintaining our profligate lifestyles,” he told Inter Press Service news agency in an interview.
PACJA is an umbrella organisation that brings together over 1,000 African climate and environment civil society organisations from more than 48 countries in Africa.
The organisation noted that climate change has already caused extreme weather in Africa, from droughts around Southern Africa and floods in Niger and Kenya to Cyclone Idai, which hit parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe at the beginning of the year.
That disproportionate impact is despite the fact that Africa as a continent is responsible for less than 4% of total global carbon emissions.
One of the representatives from PACJA, Prof. Seth Osafo from the African Group of Negotiators, said: “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] special report  identifies clearly that Africa continues to be the most vulnerable region to the impacts of climate change.”
Osafo also mentioned the humanitarian cost of climate change, highlighting how many of those people affected by Cyclone Idai are still displaced from their homes and communities. UNICEF reported in July that 1.85 million people still needed humanitarian aid to help them recover from cyclone Idai.
He added: “We believe that Africa needs support, not only in terms of money but also technology, to deal with these issues and contribute to meeting the global target for addressing climate change.”
COP25 is held to track how far countries that have signed the Paris Agreement have come in fighting climate change.
It came into effect in 2016 and includes pledges like limiting the amount of greenhouse gases caused by humans; to review each country’s contribution to the objectives of the Agreement; and for rich nations to provide money to help poorer nations respond better to climate change and its impacts; and support initiatives that promote renewable energy.
At the moment, the planet is 1.1°C warmer than it was in the 1700s.
“We need to reduce emissions by 7.6% each year to reach our goals,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in his COP25 opening address. “And even if the Paris [Agreement] commitments are fully met, it would not be enough.”
He added: “At current trends, we are looking at global heating of between 3.4°C and 3.9°C by the end of the century. The impact on all life on the planet, including ours, will be catastrophic.”
PACJA said on its website that Africa will be the most affected continent.
It said: “African civil society organisations are pressing for a decision that recognises the special circumstances and needs of the continent, which is among the hardest hit and the least prepared for the adverse impacts of climate change.”
Among other issues that have been raised by the coalition of African NGOs is the issue of climate action financing to help the continent respond better to climate change.
The BBC reports that sub-Saharan Africa needs $50 billion (R749 billion) annually to adapt successfully to climate by 2050.
Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, who represents the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said: “Africa needs to receive means of implementation. We need to receive financial resources, technology transfer, and capacity building. And these are not outrageous asks."