African governments are pushing through the continent’s ambition for transformational change at COP21 taking place here.
One theme common in addresses by different presidents was a call to correct the wrongs meted on the continent by polluting countries through a profitable climate deal for Africa.
President Boni Yayi of Benin, Cameroon’s Paul Biya and Nigeria’s Mohamadou Bouharai all demanded substantial financial support to help the people who are bearing the brunt of a warming planet, especially in Sahel Africa, cope with hardship.
As negotiations on a new deal to tackle climate change in Paris rolls on, millions of Africans are going hungry due to the combined impacts of a strong erratic weather pattern and longer-term climate shifts, with drought and floods affecting Ethiopia, Benin, Cameroon and Zimbabwe they pointed out.
In West Africa, creeping deserts and rising seas are increasingly driving people from their homes to other parts of the politically volatile region – and in some cases north towards Europe.
Yet the continent lacks the financial wherewithal to help these vulnerable communities cope with climate pressures, the different leaders who addressed the climate conference said.
Driving the Message
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said Africa had every reason to complain and addressing their woes is doing justice to a continent with promising potentials.
“African leaders are right to say they have very little role in putting the carbon in the air that is wreaking havoc in our globe but that they suffer most from the impacts of climate change,” Kim said.
“The extreme weather events, the loss of arable land is getting worst in the continent and there is need to provide the means to address these disturbing trend.”
A recent report from the bank found that, without development that helps countries prepare for climate change, 43 million more people in sub-Saharan Africa – mostly in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Angola and Uganda – could fall into extreme poverty by 2030 due to lower crop yields, higher food prices and adverse health effects linked to climate change.
Despite these risks, funding for adaptation measures – including protecting infrastructure, growing hardier crops, building storm shelters, resettling at-risk families and issuing weather warnings – accounts for less than a fifth of total international funding for climate action.
The African Development Bank and other funding bodies however say one of the biggest challenges facing Africa is the lack of energy to drive development actions.
They think by boosting renewable energy use and energy efficiency many of the climate adaptation and mitigation issues will be addressed.
The funders consequently announced their mobilization of climate finance to drive development action in Africa pledging to convert the continent’s rich resource potential to real gains that transforms livelihood.
“Africa has rich resource potential but potentials by itself cannot empower the people until it is transformed to something beneficial,” said Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the Africa Development Bank.
“We have to make sure we light and empower Africa with renewable energy.”
Adesina said AfDB’s energy initiative which was launched on 2nd December, would boost renewable energy output in Africa by nearly tenfold to 300 gigawatt (GW) by 2030.
“Africa is simply tired of being in the dark,” Adesina said at the African Pavilion at the summit in Paris for the launch of the African Renewable Energy Initiative.
The bank, which will act as a trustee of the initiative, will invest $12 billion in energy projects across the continent over the next five years, which will leverage about $40 to $50 billion from the private sector, he said.