The Paris Climate Change Agreement – A Window for Africa’s Sustainable Development

14/12/2015
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“The Adoption of the Paris Agreement shows that the world understands that with climate change there are no winners and no losers.  Either we all win together, or we all lose together”, the President of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina, said Sunday. “And yesterday we all committed to win together.”

“The Summit marked a historic moment, when 195 countries chose to stand on the side of justice and common sense.  And the voice of Africa has been heard – loud and clear. African countries came to COP21 well prepared with a unified narrative, a clear agenda, and a bottom line for a fair deal.”

Adesina stressed that Africa has changed its narrative, coming to Paris as a solution provider whose voice must be heard.  He praised the coherent structure which was established through the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), the African Ministerial Conference of the Environment (AMCEN), and the Committee of African Heads of State and Government (CAHOSCC). Other developing countries have relied on Africa to lead the negotiations on their behalf, he said.

“While the Agreement may not be perfect, it has largely reflected Africa’s specificities, while accommodating the needs of other developing regions. I have always said that a deal that is not good for Africa is no deal at all,” he went on.

He set out the five characteristics that Africa expected from the Declaration: a binding agreement under the Climate Change Convention; an Agreement that respects the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities; an Agreement that creates parity between adaptation and mitigation; an Agreement that keeps global warming below 1.5oC; and an Agreement that creates greater ambition to progressively increase climate change financing to developing countries from a floor of US $100 billion per annum from 2020.

The Africa Group of Negotiators went to Paris with two initiatives that would contribute to achieving the expected outcomes of the Paris Agreement, Adesina said.  These were the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative and the Africa Adaptation Initiative. Both initiatives were launched at the COP, and the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative has received strong support and financial pledges from partners. The Paris Agreement further acknowledges the need to promote universal access to sustainable energy in developing countries, in particular in Africa, through the enhanced deployment of renewable energy.

“While the Agreement is indeed ambitious, we cannot rest on our oars,” Adesina concluded. “There is much more work to be done. Assessments have shown that current commitments in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) will result in global warming of about 3oC. The Agreement includes a pledge to review and strengthen commitments every five years. It’s just the beginning. We need to build on its momentum to ensure that Africa transitions to a low-carbon and climate-resilient development pathway. The will is there. The commitment is there. This window of opportunity will not be open for much longer.  Let us seize it.” 


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