Africa calls for fair, equitable legally – binding agreement 

Climate change effects

Climate change effects

A GROUP of African leaders, along with UN experts, have issued a statement calling for an agreement on climate change at the Paris COP21 conference that would address the continent’s urgent needs to address this issue.

The meeting in Paris is intended to produce an agreement that will replace the Kyoto Protocol of Dec. 11, 1997, which currently governs world climate change efforts.
“Africa needs to have a comprehensive agreement focusing on the issues of mitigation, adaptation, financing and technology transfer,” the statement said.
“Climate justice means that developed countries which have caused climate change with its related damages should also provide means to address its consequences on the rest of the world,” the statement said.

Although Africa contributes only 3.8 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, the continent is expected to see a sharp increase in temperature that could lay a large part of its agriculture to waste, according to a note on the website of the think-tank ClimDev-Africa on Nov.11.

Developments in the upcoming world climate change summit COP21 scheduled to take place from November 30 – December 11 are immensely important for Africa.
“It is proven that poorer countries and communities will suffer earliest and worst from global warming because of weaker resilience and greater reliance on climate‐sensitive sectors like agriculture,” the think-tank ClimDev-Africa said in a note on its website on Nov.11.
“Climate change has significant and unequivocal implications for Africa’s development, and poses complex and changing challenges for Africa’s peoples and policy makers.  Addressing climate change has become central to the continent’s development agenda,” ClimDev Africa said.

To formulate a common position ahead of the Paris conference, African stakeholders met last Friday under the auspices of the African Union Commission in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The African Union Commission, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), members of the diplomatic corps, religious leaders and representatives of the African civil society joined together to issue a statement on the importance of helping Africa cope with climate change.
The statement, released on Monday, called for: “A fair, equitable and legally binding agreement during the much anticipated 21st United Nations Conference on Climate change.”

However, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the Financial Times on Thursday said that COP21 would not result in a legally binding agreement.
“COP 21 would be an opportunity for the continent to claim its right to sustainable development as well as to make sure that the African common positions are featured in the final text,” Ayele Hegena, director of Law and Standards at the Ethiopian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said in the statement.

Earlier, Head of Oxfam Liaison Office to the African Union, Mr. Desire Assogbavi, emphasized that the climate variability is increasingly having damaging consequences on people across the continent. He also pointed out that Africa should be at the forefront of the negotiations since it is one of the world’s most vulnerable continents to climate change. “Africa must strategically be engaged in this process.” he insisted.

Director of Law and standards at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and member of the African group of negotiators (AGN) on Climate Change, Mr. Ayele Hegena, declared that COP 21 is an opportunity for the continent to claim its right to sustainable development as well as to make sure that the African common positions are featured in the final text to be adopted.

Mr. Ayele also presented some of the expectations of Africa during COP 21. Those expectations include the need to have a comprehensive agreement focusing on the issues of mitigation, adaptation, financing and technology transfer. Indeed, only an inclusive approach can be successful in addressing the challenges of climate change.

Moreover, he said that the need of the continent would be taken into account only if a differentiation approach based on the realities and circumstances of each continent.

In the same vein, Mr. Mithika Mwenda, Secretary General of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) urged African countries to remain united during COP 21 as well as to avoid a mitigation centric position, as was the was the previously. He added that instead of 20C, Africa should stand for 1,5 0C during the negotiations. Furthermore, he argued that justice should be at the center of the Agreement in Paris.

“Climate justice means that those who have caused the damages of the climate change should also provide means to solve the consequences on other people.” He said.

Aba Melake Selam, representing the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, stated that the protection of our environment is a sacred duty for all the mankind. He underlined that the consideration of that moral obligation will pave the way for a fair agreement during COP 21. He also said that the Church will keep supporting African stakeholders in that regard.

All the participants agreed that the continent should be consistent during the negotiations COP 21 as well as they highlighted the need for an inclusive and global agreement during the Conference. The agreement to be reached at the Conference of the parties will replace the Kyoto Protocol that was adopted in Kyoto, Japan on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005.

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