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Climate Action Summit: Three questions to Dr Anthony Nyong, director climate change and green growth department


Leaders from all over the world met in New York recently to discuss efforts to tackle climate change.

The President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, attended the Climate Action Summit and pledged to double funding commitments to $25 billion from 2020 to 2025 to help African countries address the challenges of climate change. Most of this funding will go towards adaptation.

Dr Anthony Nyong, Director of the Bank’s Climate Change and Green Growth Department, answers three questions on the topic, as the summit wraps up.


What is the significance of this summit?

The summit is very timely and calls for urgent action, as climate change is no longer a distant threat that needs to be dealt with in the far-off future. For African countries, in particular, there is no time to waste, as was demonstrated earlier this year when Cyclones Idai and Kenneth devastated large parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania and Comoros. Global efforts to counter this threat are yet to be met with the necessary urgency suggested by these natural disasters.

At COP21 in Paris, countries got together and agreed to cut global emissions to ensure that global temperatures do not rise by more than 2°C by the end of this century, while ideally working to contain it within 1.5°C. Science shows that the rate of warming and especially the ice-melt is happening faster than earlier projected.

With current efforts, it is clear we will not achieve the desired outcomes with regards to climate change. It is against this backdrop that the Climate Action Summit took place to raise global ambition to tackle the challenges of climate change with greater urgency.

The summit provided an opportunity for global leaders in business and government to demonstrate concrete national actions to prompt transformative changes on the ground. It also showcased scalable initiatives that have the potential to deliver the goal of the Paris Agreement.

The summit challenged all stakeholders to ensure a faster transition from fossil fuels; to step up climate finance and carbon pricing; and to build resilience against climate change in cities and communities.

The African region contributed to the summit agenda and the message was unequivocal: Without adequate financing, the continent cannot defend itself against the increasing danger posed by climate change, which threatens millions of lives and livelihoods and could derail Africa’s efforts to accelerate development.


What is the Bank doing to alleviate the impact of climate change?

The Bank is supporting African countries to tackle the challenges of climate change as well as in seizing the opportunities offered by climate change to tow a low-carbon and climate-resilient development pathway. Some of these actions include:

  • Mainstreaming climate change into Bank’s Investments

The Bank builds resilience into its investments and also ensures that its investments builds resilience within project communities.  The Bank does this by screening its investments for climate risk and addressing those risks at the design stages of the project. The Bank also screens and reports on greenhouse gas emissions that exceed acceptable thresholds. Currently, 85% of the Bank’s investments are screened for climate risk and for greenhouse gas emissions. The Bank’s ambition is to screen all projects by 2020.

  • Scaling up ambition on climate finance

The Bank has mobilised significant financial resources to this end from global financial mechanisms and other multilateral and bilateral donors. By next year, 40% of the Bank’s own investments will be dedicated to climate finance. Furthermore, the Bank has doubled its total commitment to $25 billion between 2020 and 2025, with more than half of it going to adaptation.

  • Investments in climate-resilient development

One of the greatest impediments to adaptation and resilience in Africa is the lack of reliable climate data. The Bank has invested about $60 million to increase climate and weather observation networks and support the delivery of early warning systems.

The Bank has invested in bolstering water resources and river basins, including efforts to revitalise Lake Chad, implement climate-resilient agriculture, and restore degraded lands across the African continent. Other investments have strengthened gender equality in access to finance and climate technologies.

The Bank, in partnership with the African Risk Capacity insurance company, has established the Africa Disaster Risk Financing Programme to enhance the response to climate shocks and build adaptive capacities in African countries.

  • Investments in low-carbon development

Africa is a low-emitting continent and has the potential to remain that way. The Bank is harnessing the continent’s abundant natural resources to generate clean energy, implement low-carbon agriculture and forestry, and waste management, etc. Our investments have also protected the Congo Basin Forests, where peatlands have been discovered that hold about 30 billion tons of CO2. The Bank has not invested in any coal project in 10 years. At the summit, the Bank officially announced that it would no longer finance coal projects but rather concentrate on cleaner sources of energy, for which Africa has enormous potential.

  • Creating enabling environments for investments

Many African countries are facing challenges in implementing their commitments to the Paris Agreement and in identifying investment opportunities and partners. The Bank hosts the Africa NDC Support Hub, a platform of about 20 institutions that supports African countries to implement their commitments, creating opportunities for public and private sector participation.


What can African governments, institutions and citizens do to limit the impact of climate change?

While Africa is one of the regions that is hardest hit by climate change, African countries have all embraced the call for low-carbon and climate-resilient development. African countries should continue to call on developed country partners to significantly cut their emissions as well as meet their financial commitments under the climate change convention. African countries, especially the least developed countries, should be given more financial support to establish the right policies, strengthen appropriate institutions and create enabling environments for investors.

With limited resources, many African countries have demonstrated that they can be part of the solution to climate change. By 2030, climate change will represent a market worth $3 trillion in Africa, offering a range of opportunities to African governments and investors. These opportunities include the fast-declining costs of renewable energy technologies, the availability of global climate finance, the growing green bonds market and Africa’s abundant natural resources.

Everyone has a part to play in the race against climate change. I truly believe that, if we all play our part, we can and will win the race.

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