COP 28: Africa Climate Insights

Loss and Damage Fund: Tap opened, trickles to the bucket 

COP 28 kicked off on a high, countries agreed to action the loss and damage fund with an initial trickle of $655.9 million going to the bucket so far. Expect more pledges in the two weeks of the COP. It’s a positive start to a steep climb. Estimates of total global costs of loss and damage by 2050 range from $500 billion to $4 trillion.

Consider the case of just one country in Africa, Malawi: When Tropical Cyclone Freddy hit Southeast Africa in March 2023, Malawi experienced six months of rain in six days. In the hilly areas of Blantyre, Phalombe and Mulanje rocky mountains exploded sending rolling rocks and boulders, mud and water downstream, flattening everything on the way.  A total of 2.3 million people were affected, with 659,000 people displaced, 669 killed and over 500 people declared missing. Many are still buried under the rocks and mud. 260,000 houses were destroyed and thousands of people were turned into climate refugees overnight. Crops that were nearing harvest were washed away. The total cost of damage is estimated at $507mn and the cost of recovery and reconstruction is $680mn. The cost of recovery from cyclones Chedza (2015) and Idai (2019) were estimated at $627mn and $394mn respectively.

Global goal to triple renewables: 24 African countries signed up

Another one in the bag for the COP28 Presidency. 118 countries have agreed to triple renewable energy by 2030. To make it a global goal, consensus is needed among the nearly 200 countries at the COP.  The continent is a renewable energy powerhouse, with opportunities to leverage continental as well as regional capacities and investments to reach this goal faster than everybody else!

African countries that signed the deal on Saturday include: Angola, Benin, Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Eswatini, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senega, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Renewables for a resilient Africa

Following its formation at the Africa Climate Summit, leaders of the ‘Accelerated Partnership for Renewables in Africa’ (APRA) gathered in Dubai to forge a way forward for the initiative. Their plan? To push for renewables powered resilient and inclusive green growth in Africa. A joint statement released by the leaders led by Kenyan President William Ruto and Namibia’s Deputy-Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, outlined commitments to transforming APRA into a dynamic and influential partnership that will lead the way in renewable energy development in Africa. The APRA, they said,  will also serve as an inspirational model for other regions of the world. “We invite public and private partners to join APRA to amplify our efforts, lead ambitious climate action, and effectively implement green energy strategies,” they said in the joint statement. The meeting was also attended by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. APRA was founded by Kenya, Ethiopia, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, with support from Denmark, Germany, the UAE and IRENA.

Doubling on adaptation

In the context of GST discussions, it is crucial for Africa that adaptation be prioritised and for developed countries to agree to deliver on their commitments in order to close the adaptation finance gap, and meet ambition to double adaptation finance. The Adaptation Gap Report, shows that ‘global adaptation needs are over 50% higher than previously anticipated with a financing gap of US$194-366 billion a year.’

On 2nd December, the Africa Development Bank launched a Climate Action Window initiative to mobilise up to $14 billion to support adaptation for 37 low-income countries. Leaders attending the Adaptation Finance Summit for Africa called for rapid scaling of adaptation finance to meet the scale of climate impacts faced by the continent.

Seal the Buckets: Phase out fossils, Phase in renewables

Without addressing the real cause of climate change, we are pouring funds into a leaking bucket. Climate vulnerable countries insist that the deals and pledges must be accompanied with “a deal among countries at COP28 to phase out the world’s use of fossil fuels.”

UNSG António Guterres has added to the call,”The science is clear. The 1.5 degree [2.7°F] limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning fossil fuels — not reduce, not abate, [but rather]phase out with a clear time frame aligned with 1.5 degrees.”

In a letter signed by C40 co-chairs Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London and Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, the Mayor of Freetown in Sierra Leone, major cities around the world urged COP28 leaders to aim for a fossil fuel phase out, terming it an ‘inescapable truth’ and calling out the undue influence of the fossil fuel industry.

Science underpins fossil fuel phaseout 

Comments by the COP presidency that seem to cast doubt on the scientific basis for a fossil fuel phaseout have been met with undeniable proof from the climate science community.

“The science is clear. The International Energy Agency (IEA) notes that to align with a 1.5 °C scenario, the industry’s own emissions need to decline by 60% by 2030. This is currently not the case. According to the 2023 Production Gap Report, governments are currently planning to produce around 110% more fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas ) in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C, and 69% more than would be consistent with 2°C. To be consistent with the Paris Agreement goals, the predicted 2030 greenhouse gas emissions must fall by 28 per cent for the Paris Agreement 2°C pathway and 42 per cent for the 1.5°C pathway (the Emissions Gap Report 2023)”. Both of these reports have been led by UNEP in collaboration with some of the world’s leading scientific institutions, and these findings are very consistent with the IPCC 6th Assessment Report. It was therefore very much in order that the COP 28 Presidency made it clear in his letter to Parties in October 2023 that “phasing down demand for and supply of all fossil fuels is inevitable and essential.” Philip Osano, Centre Director at the Stockholm Environment Institute, Africa.

The latest IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report from March 2023 shows that:

  • We need to reduce CO2 emissions by 48% by 2030 and by 99% by 2050, and most of that CO2 right now is from burning fossil fuels [Source: Table SPM.1 in B.6.1];
  • Projected emissions from existing fossil fuel infrastructure alone exceed the remaining budget for the 1.5C goal [Source: SPM B.5.3] ;
  • Phasing out fossil fuels will not send humanity ‘back into caves’ as clean technologies are already available, increasingly cost-effective and embraced by the public [Source: SPM A.4.2].

Global Climate Finance Framework

Ghana and Kenya are among 12 countries that have signed onto a new climate finance framework for emerging economies to transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient global economy. President William Ruto of Kenya reiterated calls for financial restructuring to have developing countries treated equally and fairly especially on debt servicing terms, saying that no country should be made to ‘choose between its development and climate action’

President Nana Akufo of Ghana said “It is clear to all of us that that money cannot come from public money – it has to come from the private sector, where the trillions are. To what extent can the IMF and the World Bank become bridges for countries like mine and other vulnerable countries to access these funds?”

Food and agriculture declaration

More than 30 African countries have endorsed COP28 food and agriculture declaration. The world leaders have committed to include food and agriculture in national climate plans for the first time and to scale up funding. Wanjira Maathai, Managing Director for Africa and Global Partnerships at the World Resources Institute said, “The Emirates Declaration represents a major shift in mindset. The global food system – which accounts for a third of emissions and is highly vulnerable to climate impacts – is now on the climate agenda and the countdown to action has begun. Governments must immediately include food & agriculture into national climate plans  – this means concrete actions, targets, timetables and finance to get fossil fuels out of our food system, promote more diverse and nature friendly farming, support small-scale producers and reduce methane.”

Conserving tropical forests

Brazil announced the Tropical Forests Forever Facility, a non-market facility that looks to mobilise initial funding of US$250 billion that looks for ways to protect forests beyond carbon.

To galvanise finance, UAE pledged $100 million of new finance for nature-climate projects, with an initial $30 million investment in Ghanaian government’s ‘Resilient Ghana’ plan which was complemented with a further $80million by other countries and private sector groups. France pledged USD $100 million for Papua New Guinea, USD $60 million Democratic Republic of Congo and USD $50 million for the Republic of Congo for conservation via carbon credits.

Carbon markets and credits have been under scrutiny due to corporate greenwashing and lack of transparency in accounting methods. Experts argue that even where integrity is established, carbon markets are a small part of the solution and there is a need to look further and expand finance options to conserve nature.

E-mobility gains more traction

More African countries are embracing e-mobility in their climate action plans. Ghana launched its electric vehicle policy at the Ghana pavillion in Dubai, while President Bola Tinobu announced that Nigeria had signed a deal to deploy 100 electric buses in the country’s roads. The Electric Vehicle (EV) Policy of Ghana seeks to provide an enabling environment for the uptake of electric vehicles to reduce emissions and a regulatory framework to promote uptake of electric vehicles.

Source: GSCC – Africa Team

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