With COP27 set to take place in Egypt at the end of 2022, Africa’s role in climate politics is only set to expand. Because the continent will play host to the next UN climate summit, there is optimism of a breakthrough suited to African interests.
Africa’s challenges are increasing due to climate change, and the continent’s vulnerability has to be more thoughtfully considered in 2022. But more importantly more climate finance has to flow to the continent to ensure that Africa develops in the right way and gets its fair share of funds.
Apart from COP27, forums such as the Africa-EU summit, and the annual G7 and G20 talks will play a huge role in advancing African climate diplomacy.
All eyes will also be on South Africa’s watershed multibillion Just Energy Transition Transaction to determine whether it is a successful mechanism and can be copied for other countries.
COP27, the African COP
African-led climate action will be in the spotlight with the continent serving as host. Analysts point out that it serves as a chance to shift the focus of the conference to more nature-based policy and biodiversity in combating climate change.
Many feel COP27 will amplify the voice of the Global South and local communities in Africa because more African delegates will be able to attend. It would provide a platform to launch multiple pathways for the continent on how to tackle climate change.
The African Group of negotiators will be pushing for a formal agenda item to cover issues like the continent’s vulnerability to extreme weather and high borrowing costs. The group maintains that informal consultations are simply not enough. Delegates, however, are quick to point out that special treatment does not mean that Africa will access more money, but it’s about facilitating access to finance and making finance cheap because the more high risk a country is, the more the cost of loans it accesses.
There are also calls for the African Union to become a stronger voice in Africa’s climate diplomacy pledge, and possibly appoint a climate change champion who will act as the African spokesperson pushing the African position at the annual UN climate summits.
Such an AU champion would be bound by the Africa position but not national politics. It would ensure a united African voice at the talks.
The European Green Deal and its detrimental impact on African economies will be a major discussion point at the European Union-African Union summit on a yet-to-be-confirmed date in 2022. That will be a litmus test on the potential for a green partnership between Africa and Europe.
“The expectation is that the summit will raise this issue of climate financing, while focusing on mitigation. The summit is also seen as an opportunity to raise concerns around the implementation of the EU’s still problematic Green Deal.
South Africa’s Just Energy Transition Transaction
South Africa’s climate deal at COP26 was the first significant financing deal to emerge from the UN climate talks, with many believing the South African deal could spark similar deals with other big emitters in the developing world.
South Africa has consistently argued that developed economies must support a just transition in developing economies, and the supporters of the transaction believe that if successful it could lead to similar deals, strengthening climate finance globally.
South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa said he believed the deal represented a first-of-its-kind partnership to turn these commitments into reality and a model for similar forms of collaboration globally.
Speaking in parliament at the end of November, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan explained that the R131 billion from the US, UK, France and Germany to support South Africa’s transition was not a done deal, and that 2022 would see the nations iron out the details. He said that the money is an “offer”.
“Negotiations will now take place at a technical level to determine if offers are compatible with South Africa’s financial requirements and capabilities… Until negotiations are completed, we will keep the national assembly informed,” Gordhan said.
Read part 1of this article. Why 2021 was a watershed year for Africa and climate diplomacy