AfDB Climate Change Committee shares outcomes of COP20 and looks ahead to Paris climate talks

22/01/2015
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On Wednesday, January 21, the African Development Bank’s Climate Change Coordination Committee (CCCC) organized a knowledge sharing seminar at the institution’s headquarters in Abidjan to highlight the outcomes of the 20th Conference of Parties (COP20) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima, Peru, in December. The committee also looked ahead to COP21 in Paris later this year, where a new universally binding climate agreement is expected to be concluded. 

In his opening remarks, Solomon Asamoah, Vice-President, Infrastructure, Private Sector and Regional Integration, explained why the climate debate is important for Africa: “Africa is our workplace and our home; if its concerns are not part of the global climate debate; our business suffers. But it’s not just the business; it’s the millions of lives and livelihoods at stake. This should matter to us”. Asamoah was quick to caution that the Bank cannot manage this task alone and called for the Bank to develop meaningful partnerships with other institutions around the world.

COP20 presented Africa with the opportunity to examine the implications of the proposed new and binding international agreement on the continent and the imperative of Africa’s leaders to prepare to take on binding commitments as being proposed and to grow low-carbon and climate-resilient economies.

For his part, Simon Mizrahi, Director, Quality Assurance and Results Department, underlined the importance of having Africa at the centre of the new climate agreement. He noted that the impacts of climate change would be most detrimental to Africa. Agriculture, which is a mainstay of most African economies would be severely affected, he said, adding that, “temperature increase from 1.5°C to 2°C would cause a reduction of between 40-80% of cultivable lands for maize, millet and sorghum and this would a serious threat to food security”.

The African Development Bank has been at the forefront of mobilizing adequate Climate Finance for Africa. The AfDB is an implementing entity for several global climate change funds where it leverages additional finance to help African countries address their climate change challenges as well as to take advantage of the opportunities through green growth. The Bank, in addition, has created the African Climate Change Fund (ACCF) funded by seed money from Germany to assist African countries build capacity so they can access climate finance from the Green Climate Fund. It is clear, however, that current climate finance pledges are insufficient to address the needs.

Alex Rugamba, CCCC Chair and Director of the Bank’s Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Change,  presented a vivid image of this point. He noted that while adaptation to climate change is estimated to cost Africa between US $20 billion and $30 billion per year, major multilateral development banks (MDBs) jointly reported combined adaptation finance amounting to only US $2.7 billion for Sub-Saharan Africa over the last two years.  

A short movie on climate change in Africa was shown, which set the scene for the keynote presentation that was delivered by Anthony Nyong, Division Manager, Compliance and Safeguards Division. His presentation outlined Africa’s expectations from the COP process; the Bank’s contribution and the challenges that lie ahead.

Nyong reiterated the key role that the Bank has played, along with the African Union to establish and facilitate a coordinated structure through which Africa meaningfully engages in the UNFCCC negotiations.

Nyong’s presentation generated interest from the audience, who expressed concern about capacity and the ability of African countries to meet the requirements of the proposed new agreement, especially in the design of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by COP 21.

During the session, it was agreed that the Bank needs to continue to support the African process in the negotiations through empowering the negotiators to secure a fair deal for Africa in the new climate change agreement.

The seminar was attended by the Bank’s Executive Directors, Advisors to Board Members, Senior Management and staff both from headquarters and field offices.