OPINION: African countries commit to ambitious targets to address climate change

OPINION: African countries commit to ambitious targets to address climate change

Today, more than 70 world leaders met at a virtual Climate Ambition Summit hosted by the UK Government, where nations were called upon to bring new plans for tackling the climate crisis.

With climate breakdown continuing to rage around the world this year, including in Africa, with devastating locust swarms driven by climate change, this meeting was a crucial opportunity for countries to put the world on a safe path by cutting their greenhouse gas emissions and offering support for the most vulnerable.

Mohamed Adow, the director of Nairobi-based climate and energy think tank, Power Shift Africa, said it was particularly pleasing to see 10 African leaders invited to take part in the summit, demonstrating how Africa is showing global green leadership on this most critical issue for African lives and prosperity.

The 10 African countries that participated in the summit are the DRC, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

Addressing the global leaders, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that the country will update its Nationally Determined Commitment (NDC) by the December 31, 2020 deadline to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 32 per cent by 2030, from the previous target of 30 per cent.

“To implement the required mitigation and adaptation actions for the updated NDC, we will require US$62 million (Sh6 billion) between 2020 and 2030,” noted the president.

“As an African, I was proud to see leaders from my continent being part of the solution to this global problem and sharing an international platform with other heads of state from around the world. Only leaders invited to take part were those bringing new, improved pledges to cut emissions. Some, like Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, were denied an opportunity to address the world. It shows the progress made by some African countries that they are now at the high table when it comes to climate leadership,” said Adow.

“Africa has a huge part to play in the fight to stop climate change. We have endless sources of clean energy, from wind and solar to geothermal and hydro. As Africa uses these non-polluting forms of energy to power our development, we can show the rest of the world that we don’t need to foul our air and distort our climate to bring prosperity.

By leapfrogging the old fossil fuel energy of the past, we can accelerate our development and prevent further damage to our climate.  Africa is especially vulnerable to hotter temperatures, droughts, storms and locusts swarms so it’s in our own interest to be at the forefront of this global energy transition.  We now need to see more African countries stepping up and joining the top table of international climate leaders,” Adow added.

Adow explained that the virtual summit was a crucial part of the Paris climate agreement, which celebrated its 5th anniversary on December 12.

He noted that: “This ambition summit is vital if we want to inject some momentum into climate action as we head into 2021. Currently, the pledges that make up the Paris Agreement leave us with a world of three degrees Celsius  of global heating, a fate which would be catastrophic.  But the Paris Agreement was designed to be a dynamic accord which called on countries to strengthen national plans every five years so we can bend that global heating curve downwards to achieve the 1.5 degree Celsius  goal contained in  the agreement.”

The Paris Agreement also requires richer nations to provide financial support for those countries which are bearing the brunt of climate change but have done almost nothing to cause it. These countries, Adow noted, need support to adapt to the floods, droughts and storms that are destroying their lives and livelihoods.