Marrakech Cop22: ‘tis Time For Africa’s Voice

There’s an African proverb which goes: “If the owner of the land leads you, you cannot get lost.”

Between November 7 and 18, over 195 countries and parties of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will convene at Marrakech, Morocco, in West Africa for a two week conference following the ratification of Paris’ COP21 climate agreement.

Last year, during the adoption of historic climate change agreement, it was time for Europe—to prove to the world her seriousness in overcoming greenhouse gas emissions.

This year’s “COP of action” as COP22 President, Salaheddine Mezouar, says on 6 October during the ratification of the Paris agreement, is time for Africa to prove not only her ability gathering over 195 countries, but also show leadership in voicing out her concerns.

One of the biggest outcries of the African continent about the delegation of UNFCCC conferences has been that we have been historically sidelined during such “moments of decisions”. What this means cannot be over stated.

African climate change experts stressed that the Paris Agreement adopted on the 21st conference of parties (COP21) to the UNFCCC held from the November 30 to December 11in France failed to give the issue of agriculture the attention it deserves.

“Throughout the negotiation, we toiled trying to introduce agriculture so that it is mainstreamed in the negotiation text but with little success” said Estherine Fotabong, the Director of Programme Implementation and Coordination for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. Considering the important role of Agriculture in the development of Africa, lack of attention given to the sector was quite worrisome.

Agriculture, not energy nor manufacturing, is an engine of most African countries.

According to the African Union, agriculture account for more than one-third of the continent’s gross domestic product and more than two-thirds of us rely directly on the sector for our livelihood.

If Africa’s biggest problem was renewable energy finance or something like that, then Africa got what it wanted in Paris.

In one major success, the European Union, Sweden and G7 jointly pledged $10 billion to the newly-minted African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), whose goal is to supply at least 300GW of power by 2030 through clean energy sources.

Even more pledges were undeniably secured; African delegations seemed to go quiet at the summit. The room was left to civil society to demand more robust positions on compensation for climate damage, and deeper cuts on emissions by industrialized countries.

One of the big voices that echoed a clear climate change situation of African continent, that wasn’t adequately tackled, said:

“The cry from the climate impacted people of Africa, especially women, children and smallholder farmers, is on the rise. The cries also indicate that they are losing their farmlands and animals to floods and drought,” says Mithika Mwenda, Secretary-General of PACJA, a civil society umbrella body.

Representing some of the countries including Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda… already hit hardest by “the worst draught in 60 years”, PACJA’s tumult was that African countries, some of those being the most affected by climate change, need no less than $50billion per year for adaptation – along with no more than 1.5 degrees of warming.

If we first admit the fact that Africa is generally a developing land, with low fossil-fuel CO2 emissions in both absolute and per capita terms: we released a mere 1, 12.59 million tonnes of CO2 in to the sky out of the entire 30,398.42 million tonnes of CO2 released by the whole world, according to World carbon dioxide emissions data by country published in The guardian: world emissions by countries 2011, we can also come clean that Europe and Asia led the world causing the global warming Africa is being, so to say, by the same token charged upon.

The forthcoming Marrakech meeting is the right turn for the big polluters to help Africa find her footing by finding their own.

Our most urgent plight is unique, and so we ought to steer right to our cause on the course to achieving 1.5 degree global temperature limit. Africa must lead this time, going to, and during Morocco—soliciting funds for agricultural loss compensation to cut hunger and starvation as one visible impact of climate change.

By Boaz Opio

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