Climate Change (204)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - 'Never to have any dealings with human beings, never to engage in trade, never to make use of money’ – is one of the famous extract defining the principle of Animalism in George Orwell’s Fable, Animal Farm. While it has over the years associated with political hypocrisy, there seems to be some positive lessons especially for Africa’s 2063 Agenda in relation to challenges that climate change poses to the continent, and the role of young people to achieve it.

Whilst Africa at present contributes less than 5% of global carbon emissions, it bears the brunt of the impact of climate change. Poverty, migration, disease and economic malaise characterise the continent and climate change is worsening these conditions. In its number one aspiration for Agenda 2063, Africa wants to see inclusive growth and sustainable development.

And to achieve this goal, the continent has prioritized climate adaptation in all actions, drawing upon skills of diverse disciplines with adequate support (affordable technology development and transfer, capacity building, financial and technical resources) to ensure implementation of actions for the survival of the most vulnerable populations, including islands states, and for sustainable development and shared prosperity.

However, Mithika Mwenda, Secretary General of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), believes the achievement of the 2063 dream requires some kind of a rebellion, just like the Animals rebelled against the tyranny of Man in ‘Animal Farm.’

“Agenda 2063 is like animal farm, it is a rebellion against climate change, against poverty, against all kinds of suffering and economic malaise, just like the animals rebelled against man’s tyranny,” said Mwenda during a panel discussion at the Sixth Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA VI), currently holding in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

To avoid being misunderstood because of the negative connotation that ‘Animal Farm’ is associated with, Mwenda was quick to explain his rebellion comments:

“It must be understood that the rebellion I am referring to is symbolic, the animals that fought for ‘Animalism’ did not live to see it to fruition but the younger generation. The implementation of the agenda 2063 is about the young people, it is a long term project, and will only be implemented by the younger ones who should now be given the mantle to lead these processes,” added the PACJA chief.

With a seven-point plan, Agenda 2063 is a 50-year strategic blueprint which is both a vision and an action plan that calls for action to all segments of African society to work together to build a prosperous and united Africa based on shared values and a common destiny.

But with Africa’s young people largely neglected in development processes, there is a danger that the continent’s aspirations as enshrined in the 2063 Agenda could be in jeopardy.

James Murombedzi, Officer in Charge of the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, believes time for action is now, and wants to see the younger generation use their energy to call for action.

“I would rather not use the metaphor of animal farm, the metaphor of rebellion, but what I think should happen is that there is a serious urgency to climate action, and what I want to see is young people use the energy to call for action now, it is not a challenge for the future it is for now,” said Murombedzi.

He cited the 1.5 degrees debate as one issue that requires urgency. “You see, already the 1.5 degrees debate is being pushed further as if to wait until we get there before action is taken, and yet this is an urgent matter and I think young people must come in to demand action now,” the ACPC chief added.

Interestingly, the youths are fired up but they have reservations regarding their involvement in the continent’s development agenda.

“The youth are the future of Africa, all the development agendas being developed should be anchored on young people. But in terms of leadership mantle transition, we are still lugging behind because our leaders don’t trust young people, they see them as a threat, they see young people as naïve…but we will rise and fight for climate justice and ensure that 2063 is a reality,” said Ibrahim Cessay of the Africa Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC), a network of African youth organizations and individuals working on climate change & sustainable development.

And Abel Musumali of the ClimDev Youth Platform agrees with Cessay on the need to engage young people saying “climate change is about both short and long term planning, under for Agenda 2063 to be achieved, we should be involved now in solving the climate change problem which has a bearing on our future, otherwise, we are doomed.”

Agenda 2063 heralds Africa’s dream for development in the next 50 years. And Dr. Seth Osafo, former legal advisor at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, would like to see investments in scientific research especially for young scientists.

“We need to develop young people’s expertise at the highest level to contribute positively in their country processes. There are already some experts in all the other areas but we need a lot of research scientists, and I look forward to having a programme soon that could be mentoring young scientists for Africa to be much involved in the climate scientific governance framework considering that climate change threatens to hinder Africa’s aspirations as enshrined in the Agenda 2063,” concludes Osafo.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - Climate-induced migration has continued to swell in Africa in spite multiple efforts by different governments in the continent to find lasting solutions to the crisis. Development experts at a panel discussion in the CCDA-VI conference in Addis Ababa on October 19, 2016 pointed out that pledges made by different countries to tackle climate change challenges need to be accompanied by more concrete and collective measures.

According to the experts over 190 countries at the climate talks in Lima in 2014 and Paris in 2015 pledged to reach a more concrete agreement, with specific goals and responsibilities, aimed at mitigating the impact of climate change and adapting to its consequences. A number of countries also pledged that during the period between the two conferences they would examine the links between climate change and human migration and displacement and implement solution driven measures.

Looking at the linkages between climate change and migration, panelists noted that climate-induced migration is a global problem that is likely to worsen in the future if not tackled head-on. Global problems thus require global solutions, they said.

“Climate-induced migration is a problem too vast for any one country to handle on its own. It requires a global approach and collective action,” says Prof. Araya Asfaw of the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Center in Ethopia.

The different panelists urged development actors to avoid the blame game and come up with development projects especially in the areas of agriculture to curb growing migration.

 According to experts, developing countries blame high-income nations for their migration problems. They argue that developed countries which have caused most of the emissions driving climate change, should compensate those countries that have not burned as much carbon and yet are victims of this global problem.

“These ecological justice issues will no doubt take time to sort through. But in the main time countries should accelerate and harness agriculture for food, health, employment to bring dramatic changes in the fight against poverty and climate change in many countries especially in Africa,” says Adama Ekberg Coulibaly of ECA Ethiopia.

 The world needs to take collective action to mitigate and slow down climate change. But for this to happen there is need for a significant change in the way people and societies, in both industrialized and developing nations, lead their lives, the experts said.

 In the context of migration, nations were urged to focus on the rights and lives of the migrants rather than on restricting movement as they implement actions to solve the problem.

“Migration will always occur whether it is legal or not. After all, people may very well have no other choice but to leave their homes. But projects that focuses on improving the rights and lives of the communities will bring significant change to the problems,” says Ibrahim Ceesay of the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change in The Gambia.

 The CCDA-VI forum according to organizers, is geared at understand the implementation implications, nuances, challenges and opportunities of the Paris Agreement for Africa in the context of the continent’s development priorities.

The forum accordingly is tailored to facilitate science-policy dialogue and provide a marketplace for innovative solutions that integrates climate change into development processes.

“It is important to engage and embrace the Paris Climate Agreement within the framework of Africa’s development aspirations as underscored in Agenda 2063 that embodies the vision of the ‘Africa we want’ and Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development that set global targets with a vision of ‘leaving no one behind,’ noted a 17 October 2016 press release from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - “The Paris Agreement is somewhat weak in terms of how African countries will attract the required investments to deal with the challenges of climate change…,”says James Murombedzi, Officer in Charge of the Africa Climate Policy Centre of the United Nations economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

While heralded as a landmark global deal on climate change, there remains a feeling of impotence from the Africa group on certain nuances of the Agreement and its implications to the continent’s development agenda.

However, signing and ratifying the Agreement is not optional for Parties as it was universally agreed by the then 196 members to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—UNFCCC, in Paris last year.

This therefore implies that whatever issues Africa has with the Agreement and its implications, would have to be dealt with at the negotiating table, and this is the point at which the Young African Lawyers (YAL) Programme becomes crucial.

Established under the ClimDev-Africa Programme, YAL has the overarching goal of strengthening Africa’s negotiating position and ensuring Africa gets the best at the UNFCCC processes.
“Signing and ratifying the Agreement is not optional for us as Africa,” says Natasha Banda, a young Legal Practitioner from Zambia, one of the mentees under the programme.
Being part of the legal advisory team for the Zambian negotiators through the UNFCCC country Focal point person, Banda believes ratifying the Agreement is not negotiable and the starting point “because the nature of international Agreements is that you cannot have bargaining power from outside,” and is certain that Zambia, which is yet to ratify, would do so once all necessary processes are complete.
In recognition of the importance of addressing the impacts of climate change comprehensively, and the unique roles and responsibilities of lawyers in the process, the Young African Lawyers (YAL) programme brings together young and motivated African lawyers in integrating climate change responses into Africa’s development agenda.
According to Dr. Johnson Nkem, Senior Climate Adaptation Expert with the Africa Climate Policy Centre, and Coordinator of the programme, YAL is a crucial component for Africa’s climate governance framework, especially now that the world is moving towards a greener, cleaner future, as espoused in the Paris Agreement.
“While providing essential legal support to the AGN, the YAL programme is an important foundation for developing a cadre of African lawyers who are fully engaged in wider climate change issues. Legal advice on low-carbon trading transactions, for example, or integrating climate change into Environmental Impact Assessments are going to be increasingly important as the world heads towards a greener, cleaner future. As Africa anchors itself firmly in this global transition, the YAL programme aims to nurture the legal skills that will be integral to this process,” Nkem explains.

As well as the immediate benefits of providing legal support at the climate negotiations, YAL has the longer-term goal of building the expertise of young lawyers, to be applied in broader aspects of climate change policy and law.
And Rachael Rwomushana, a Ugandan Lawyer, testifies to the positive impact that the programme has had on her and on the country’s engagement in the UNFCCC processes.
Uganda is one of the African countries that has ratified the Paris Agreement, and Rwomushana believes she played a positive role as a young lawyer working in the office of the Attorney General.
“Being involved in the this programme has enabled me to better understand the process and the guidance that I can give to my country and the African Group of Negotiators in the process,” she says, stressing that African countries should not look back on the Paris Agreement but work to strengthen their climate governance so that they get the best out of it.
Under the guidance of two seasoned lawyers experienced in Multilateral Environmental Agreements such as Dr. Seth Osafo, former senior legal adviser of the UNFCCC Secretariat, and Matthew Stilwell, a climate change expert and legal adviser to the African Group of Negotiators, the YAL programme could be Africa’s hope for better climate governance engagement in the years to come.

With the availability of additional resources and support, the programme plans to expand to other interested participants and legal institutions across Africa in developing the knowledge-base of legal experts on climate change issues.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - African governments have been urged to ratify and implement the Paris Agreement on climate change to help manage effects of climate change. Speaking at the sixth conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA V1) at the UN Complex in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the high level session, experts and ministers said the pact is good for the continent.

They called on Africa to unite and speak with one voice to be able to reap maximum benefits by fully implementing the agreement.
"The Paris Agreement will benefit Africa as it has commitments on finance, green technology and capacity transfer. If successfully implemented, it will be the key to our development," said Yasmine Fouad, Egypt's Assistant Minister of Environment.

Reflecting the urgency and critical significance of climate change for the continent's economic growth and sustainable development, the conference, convened under the theme 'Paris Agreement on climate change: What next for Africa', seeks to address seven key areas.

The conference offers governments to deepen their understanding of the Conference of Parties (COP21) where the pact was signed and identify strategies for implementing the agreement through Pan-African initiatives, public-private partnerships and state and non-state actors.

The forum also seeks to provide a solution space for innovation, facilitate, networking between climate and development partners, raise awareness of the importance of climate information services and explore new and evolving challenges related to climate change.

Dr Abdalla Hamdok, Deputy Executive Secretary for UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) urged African countries to ratify the agreement.
"Out of the 81 out of 197 countries that have ratified the agreement, only 15 African countries have done so. This is a challenge," Hamdock said.

Kenya is among 15 African countries that have ratified the agreement. The country now stands to benefit from the $100 billion pledged by developed countries to developing ones and that even larger sums be leveraged from investors, banks and the private sector that can build towards the $7 trillion needed to support a world-wide transformation on climate change.

Hamdock noted the significance of Paris Agreement coming into force lies in Intended nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) which are the foundation of the agreement become legally binding as Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs).

He observed that there are challenges with the INDC submissions of African countries due their vagueness in their mitigation ambitions and adaptation aspirations.

Other challenges include lack of cost estimates for achieving their adaptation and mitigation goals, absence of clarity on sources of funding and up to date national greenhouse gas emission records to inform the pledged emission reduction commitments.

Others are mitigation commitments that exceed current level of emissions and lack of coherence of the INDCs and national development goals.
"There is an urgent need for Africa to review and revise their INDCs to address the above issues," Hamdok said.

James Murombedzi, officer in charge of Africa Climate Policy Centre said the agreement which aims to come into effect before the end of the year aims to limit the increase in the global average temperature to below 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.

"Africa will benefit by implementing the agreement because it is the continent that will be severely impacted by the adverse impacts of weather variability and climate change," Murombedzi said.

"The continent is already experiencing climate-induced impacts such as frequent and prolonged droughts and floods and environmental degradation and increased migration," Murombedzi said.

He added, "The agreement heralds bold steps towards decarbonizing the global economy and reducing dependency on fossil fuels."
Rhoda Tumisiime, Africa Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture said Africa need to industrialise but stop exporting its raw materials and promote sustainable production and consumption.

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