Africa must get a better deal in Paris, civil society tasks African leaders

Civil Society Leaders at the Policy Dialogue on Climate Change at the 24th AU Summit in Addis Ababa
Civil Society Leaders at the Policy Dialogue on Climate Change at the 24th AU Summit in Addis Ababa

Arisson Tamfu

Civil society groups in Africa have called on African leaders to ensure that a universally accepted agreement that favours the the position of Africa is signed in Paris where governments around the world will finalise a new international climate change agreement.

They made the declaration on Thursday at Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital where African leaders are attending the AU Summit.

`From Malawi to Mali, our farmers and pastoralists are struggling with changing seasons. Droughts and floods hit us from Sudan to South Africa. When drought flattens harvests in the wheat plains of Russia or the US mid-west, it is our people in Egypt and Algeria who face rocketing bread prices.

Yet a weak deal is exactly what we are facing right now. The biggest polluting countries are engineering a race to the bottom that will see each decide exactly what they are themselves prepared to put on the table. Rich countries are even resisting any new concrete commitments on financing to help developing countries cut emissions and adapt to our changing climate` said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director Oxfam International.

Lima outcome unacceptable

A joint statement by Oxfam and Pan-African climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) regretted that, the Lima climate talks disfavoured Africa leaving the continent and its citizens in a very precarious position. In December this year, a legally binding agreement on how to fight against the adverse consequences of climate change is expected to be reached in France, Paris.

`The Lima outcome was deeply disappointing. It means that Paris will be a “bottom-up” agreement in which every country can determine what they want to commit to – no matter how big or small their emissions or financial capacity` the statement said.

In the countdown to the Paris meeting, the civil society groups have urged the African Leaders to demand at least a few key bottom-lines in the deal.

Key demands for Paris

`On finance, they should demand that rich countries show they will keep their Copenhagen promise to $100bn per year by 2020. At the moment we have no guarantee they will do so, and Paris will be the last chance to hold them to their word. They could give greater assurance that the resources will come by establishing new finance raising mechanisms that automatically generate revenues for the Green Climate Fund` the statement said.

The statement also reiterates that, African leaders should ensure that the agreement sees a target for new and increased resources flowing for adaptation to climate change in Africa and other vulnerable regions. Africa Group of Negotiators has proposed that weaker global emissions cuts and higher temperatures should mean more adaptation finance for those who will bear the costs.

`It needs our continual support at every opportunity this year. And finally, if those country pledges are still too low to avoid warming of 1.5C, then we must demand a process to increase them after Paris. We can’t leave a weak Paris deal as the final word on climate action for the next decade or more` Winnie Byanyima added.

The Ethiopian gathering brought together Oxfam, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (Climate Negotiation Team), African Climate Policy Centre, Pan-African Parliamentarians Network on Climate Change, Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, Rural Women Organization and Climate Change Negotiation Team, Tanzania


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