After six years, the UN climate summit returns to Africa

MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) – The UN climate summit returns to Africa after six years and four consecutive conferences in Europe.

The 27th annual conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, better known as COP27, will be held in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt and begins next week. It has been labeled the “African COP,” with officials and activists hoping the conference’s stance means the continent’s interests are better represented in climate negotiations.

Hosts from Egypt say the meeting represents a unique opportunity for Africa to align climate change goals with the continent’s other goals, such as improving living standards and countries’ resilience to climate conditions extreme. Organizers are expecting over 40,000 attendees, the highest number ever reached for a climate summit on the continent.

Since the first edition of the conference in Berlin in 1995, the United Nations Climate Summit continues to rotate every year among the five regions classified by the United Nations: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe. It is the fifth time that an African nation has held the UN climate summit, with Morocco, South Africa and Kenya all serving as former guests.

The first African summit, held in Marrakech in 2001, approved historic agreements on climate finance and made other key decisions on land use and forestry. The following three meetings on the continent had some success on issues such as climate change adaptation, technology and sowing the seeds for the Paris Agreement in 2015 years earlier. Marrakech is also the latest African city to host the event, having hosted a second COP in 2016, which aimed to realize some of the Paris goals.

The Paris Agreement, considered a great success of the UN climate summits, saw nations agree to limit warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), with the goal to reduce it to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

And although experts do not expect the agreement between the countries to reach the same size as Paris, hopes on the continent for the next conference are high.

Mithika Mwenda, head of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, told The Associated Press that the summit “presents a unique opportunity to put Africa at the center of global climate negotiations” and hopes the conference “truly delivers to the people. African”.

Mwenda said the continent’s “special needs and circumstances” must be taken into account as it seeks to both increase access to electricity for millions of people while addressing climate change and limiting the use of fossil fuels.

He added that the negotiations must prioritize how vulnerable countries will adapt to climate change, direct redress from highly polluting countries to poorer ones, known as “loss and damage,” and seek ways to finance both the transition. to cleaner energy that building climate resilience will change. Many developing countries look to the United States and much of Europe, which has contributed the largest share of emissions over time, to pay for the damage caused by climate change.

So far, rich countries’ commitments on climate finance, such as pledges of $ 100 billion a year to help poorer nations meet their climate goals, have not been met. Egyptian organizers said the summit should focus on how countries can implement the commitments made in previous years.

“Africa’s hopes for COP27 are that there must be progress on a new funding target,” said Jean-Paul Adam, who heads the climate change division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, adding that there must be “clarity on what will be provided as grants and what will be provided as soft loans and the rest will be managed through prudential private sector investments”.

It is also up to industrialized countries to rapidly reduce emissions so that the global climate goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius can be met, Mwenda said. African countries account for only 3% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, but experts say they are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change largely because they lack the ability to quickly adapt to global warming.

The climate conference will be a true testament to the commitment of world leaders to tackling climate change, said Landry Ninteretse, regional director of environmental group

“We are tired of years of empty talk and broken promises,” said Ninteretse. “Now we are asking for nothing more than robust funding mechanisms that address loss and damage in a fair, accessible and transparent way.”

Ninteretse agreed that “major emitters must commit to rapidly reducing emissions” and “help the nations most vulnerable to climate change” by funding climate initiatives.

Past COPs have seen disagreements and uncompromising positions emerge as national interests collide, a concern for those who hope that tangible results will emerge from the negotiations.

“Discussions tend to be long, uncompromising and sometimes bitter,” said Mwenda, a veteran of the climate negotiation circuit. “But in 2015 the world ratified the Paris Agreement, which was a milestone.”

But the success of the Paris COP was the exception rather than the rule, experts say, with much work still to be done to tackle climate change.

“The negotiations lasted three decades, but the impacts of the climate crisis, manifested by floods, droughts, among other extremes, persist,” Mwenda said.


The Associated Press’s climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. Find out more about the AP climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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