The eighth edition of the Climate Change and Development in Africa Conference – CCDA-8 opened today in Addis Ababa with strong calls to reverse the current lackluster approach to implementing the Paris Agreement and tackle climate change. Co-organised by the Economic Commission for Africa of ECA, the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the PanAfrican Climate Justice Alliance, the three-day special meeting has as its theme: “Stepping Up Climate Action for a Resilient Africa: a Race We Can and Must Win”.
“Many African countries have submitted ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions to Climate Action – NDCs – showing that African leaders have made strong commitments to tackle climate change while striving to meet their national development agendas,” said Ethiopia’s Frehiwot Woldehanna, State Minister for Energy Sector, Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy in his opening remarks.
He said Ethiopia, whose electricity system is dominated by hydropower was one of the first countries to submit its NDC leading up to the Paris Agreement and was one of the first countries to ratify the agreement. Furthermore, the Climate Action Summit is being organized under nine action areas, one of which is the energy transition being led by Denmark and Ethiopia.
Yet, despite the efforts on the ground, climate-induced frequent and more intense droughts “are putting our energy security and reliability at risk, with significant economic and social impacts,” said the Minister, stressing that without urgent action to tackle climate change Africa will not meet the targets of the other sustainable development goals.
“As countries raise their climate ambition, we must remember the fundamental principle of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which calls for wide cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions,” he said.
For her part, Aida Opoku-Mensah Chief of Staff, Economic Commission for Africa noted that Africa contributes the least to global emissions but is already suffering the most adverse impacts from climate change. “The Continent contributes under 6% of emissions, with per capita emissions of only 0.8 tons per year, well below the global mean of 5 tons, and far lower than for other regions such as Europe and Asia,” she said.
Ms. Opoku-Mensah indicated that this special CCDA is being held ahead of the forthcoming Climate Action Summit which is calling for urgent and concerted global action to fight climate change. “This is a last wake-up call to all countries to raise their game and step up climate action for multiple social, economic and environmental wins,” she stressed.
She also highlighted a number of Climate Actions undertaken by the ECA in collaboration with partners. These include: Climate Research for Development in Africa (CR4D), which strengthens the links between climate science research and climate information needs in support development planning in Africa; The Africa Climate Resilient Investment Facility (AFRI-RES) – a joint initiative of the ECA, the World Bank, the AUC and the African Development Bank; and the DFID-funded Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER).
Godfrey Bahigwa representing the African Union Commission stressed that while climate adaptation is a priority for Africa, “the current global climate financing flows for adaptation are limited with strong inclination towards financing mitigation related projects, as opposed to adaptation related ones.
He said the AU Commission is working on mobilizing resources and partnerships to support AU Member States to domesticate and implement their NDCs. “We also want to establish a continental reporting mechanism that will show process that Africa is making in the implementation of the Paris agreement on climate change,” he added.
James Kinyangi from the African Development Bank told the gathering that the first urgent action is “to build Resilience and Adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change for the most vulnerable communities across Africa.” Having signed and ratified the Paris Agreement, nearly all African countries “are now committed to Climate Action in support of building resilience through early warning systems, comprehensive risk assessment and management and risk insurance,” he said.
“The time is NOW, to translate the agreement into concrete action, to safeguard development gains and address the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable,” he added.