An African COP for African issues

African-led climate action will be in the spotlight as Egypt hosts COP27 next year.

It represents the chance to  shift  the focus of the conference to more nature-based policy and biodiversity in combating climate change, several African delegates had commented at the announcement in Glasgow.  

Many feel COP27 will amplify the voice of the Global South and local communities in Africa with more African delegates able to attend. 

South Africa’s head of climate finance and innovation at the Presidential Climate Commission, Dipak Patel, said South Africa expected COP27 to be the African COP,  and that it would provide a platform to launch multiple pathways for the continent on how to tackle climate change. 

Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, said in Glasgow that COP27 would be a real opportunity to make progress in priority areas such as climate finance, adaptation and loss and damage. 

Finance to vulnerable countries still remains an issue. Several African countries expressed concern that  climate finances promises had been broken. Wealthy countries had promised $100 billion dollars a year to assist vulnerable countries at the climate talks in Copenhagen. But this did not materialise and finance fell short.  

Tanguy Gahouma-Bekale of Gabon, chairperson of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change, called for more to be done and hoped that COP27 would cement such a promise.  He said “in Africa, the new target for funding must be $700 billion a year, not $100 billion a year.” 

He said African countries also intended to involve the private sector so that funds were used beyond government projects.

Africa has high stakes in climate change. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report indicates that the African continent is warming faster than the global average, which makes its countries more vulnerable to climate change’s devastating impacts. This is why adaptation is so crucial for the continent, because even if climate change is slowed, Africa is still sure to suffer the effects.  

Egyptian environment minister Dr Yasmine Fouad said in Glasgow that it was very important to push the adaptation agenda forward by looking at nature-based solutions. 

“It’s the land, the water, the ecosystem and the climate that together should be there for the benefit of the planet and the human beings’.

“Reducing countries’ and communities’ vulnerability to climate impacts requires urgent adaptation and finance to help developing countries absorb impacts and build resilient communities, with the meaningful engagement of indigenous peoples and their ancestral knowledge at the heart of this action.”

Analysts also expect land degradation to become an important part of the discussion at COP27.  Research shows that  65% of productive land in Africa is degraded, while desertification affects 45% of Africa’s land area, and this threatens food security if the impact of climate change is added. 

This is why the transformation of food systems is crucial to addressing the challenges brought up by climate change, as well as preserving biodiversity, Fouad said. 

COP27 also hopes to showcase some of the real projects on climate change that have been making a difference on the continent.  These include:

  • The Great Green Wall Initiative, an African-led movement to grow an 8,000km natural wonder across the entire width of Africa, restoring degraded landscapes, creating millions of jobs in rural areas, and sequestering carbon. 
  • Morocco’s Noor-Ouarzazate complex, the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant, an enormous array of curved mirrors spread over 3,000 hectares that concentrates the sun’s rays towards tubes of fluid, with the hot liquid used to produce power. Climate pioneer Morocco will be one of Africa’s shining stars at COP27. Renewables make up almost two-fifths of its electricity capacity, some fossil fuel subsidies have been phased out and the country lays claim to some of the world’s largest clean energy projects. The country has received much praise for its actions to decarbonise.
  • In Egypt, the Bedouin seed plants and natural pastures restoration project is restoring natural pastures in large areas to improve Bedouin community livelihoods and achieve sustainable environmental development.

Read part 1: COP26 kept the 1.5 degree dream alive. Now the African COP will have to ensure it becomes a reality