By Friday Phiri in Paris
A famous quote goes: “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.” This is the message that the African Development Bank (AfDB) is delivering on behalf of Africa at the global conference on climate change, COP21, which opened Monday, November 30 in Paris.
“All fingers are not equal. Those who pollute more should do more to save our planet,” said AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina during a side event organized by multilateral development banks (MDBs) at the ongoing climate change conference.
While major climate financing pronouncements were made during the meeting, the AfDB’s message was clear: A new climate deal that does not work for Africa is no deal at all.
According to Adesina, the major and historic polluters must take a fair share of responsibility not only to cut their emissions, but also to help the suffering adapt to climate impacts.
The AfDB’s stance resonates with the long-standing position of the African Group of Negotiators, which has been pushing for a common but differentiated principle – demanding historic emitters to take responsibility for what they have caused not only by cutting carbon emissions to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, but also to provide funding for adaptation in vulnerable countries, most of which are in Africa.
One country currently feeling the heat is Zambia. A month-long drought in the last rainy season has led to reduced water levels at the Kariba Dam located on the Zambezi River, where the Southern African country has its main hydro-power generation plant.
To keep electricity generation sustainable until water levels improve in the next rainy cycle, the power utility has been rationing electricity, affecting mining, the country’s main foreign exchange-earning sector.
This, combined with the fall of copper prices on the international market, has put the country’s currency under serious pressure in recent months.
“Adaptation is a big thing for us in Africa. For us in Zambia, we have been grappling with the effects of a prolonged drought affecting food security of some households and power problems,” said Barnaby Mulenga, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, who is leading the Zambian delegation at COP21.
But such energy challenges could be eased as heads of the world’s largest development banks pledged on Monday, November 30, to work together to substantially increase climate investments and ensure that development programmes going forward consider climate risks and opportunities.
The African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the World Bank Group (WBG) announced their intention to further mobilize public and private finance to help countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.
The development finance institutions promised to consider climate change across their strategies, programmes and operations to deliver more sustainable results, with a particular focus on the poor and most vulnerable.
The development banks highlighted that they had already delivered US $100 billion for climate action in developing and emerging countries in the four years since they started to track climate finance in 2011.
For its part, Africa’s premier development finance institution, the African Development Bank, pledged US $12 billion for Africa’s renewable energy in the next five years, with the Bank’s President Akinwumi Adesina saying, “Africa is tired of being in the dark.
“Africa has already been short-changed by climate change. Now, we must ensure that Africa is not short-changed in terms of climate finance. The African Development Bank stands fully ready to support greater climate financing for Africa,” he said.