Climate Change in Africa
A race against time
We live in a complicated interconnected world, on a continent experiencing considerable economic, social and environmental challenges. Among the most significant of the environmental challenges is climate change. In Africa, climate change threatens to derail the significant development gains that have been made over the last decades; climate change also threatens future growth and development. Read more
The challenge of the Paris Agreement is “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”. It’s a 50-year marathon, made up of successive five-year sprints, and we need to approach it as such.
Sometimes as a quick-fix solution to ending poverty, the world’s poor countries including Least Developing Countries (LDCs) resort to cheap but unsustainable exploitation of natural resources: develop now and clean up later! This approach may have been used by developed nations years ago, but times have changed. Today, climate impacts have become more alarmingly urgent, and at the same time climate-smart solutions are becoming more viable and affordable. It would be simplistic bordering on fatalism to adopt yesteryear’s solutions to 21st century development challenges.
In the run-up to 2015’s historic COP21, there was a lot of debate about the role carbon markets should play in the final negotiated Paris Agreement. Many, myself included, called for inclusion of carbon trading; and I recall a general sigh of relief when Article 6 of the Agreement was accepted, seemingly creating space for a new carbon market mechanism (Article 6.4) and transfer of International Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs) (Article 6.2).
In 2008, as the urgency of global support for climate-smart development became increasingly apparent, donor and recipient countries established the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) through the multilateral development banks as a transitory financial mechanism to help provide an interim climate source of funding, pending the effectiveness of a new multilateral climate finance facility developed under the guidance of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The imbalance in investment in adaptation and mitigation is both well documented and logical. The Multilateral Development Banks, for example, report that 80% of climate finance is tagged as mitigation whilst only 20% is adaptation, and that comes from institutions whose mandate is development. For the private sector, there is no obvious or easy return for investing in technologies that improve public health or air quality, or provide long term flood defenses or irrigation services to subsistence farmers. These are public goods that are traditionally provided by public funds.