December 3, 2018

12:17 pm

As Climate Conference Opens, Africa Takes Center Stage

Three years ago, the Paris Agreement was signed by 196 Member States of the UN, putting climate front and center on the world stage, specifically “aiming at limiting [global] warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.”

The historic moment occurred at the UN’s annual climate conference, known as the COP (Conference of the Parties — Paris was the 21st such COP), and it seemed to focus the world’s attention on the importance of reducing global temperatures to sustain life on the planet.

Today is the first official day of COP24, in Katowice, Poland (it will run through December 14), and the highlight of today’s official opening meeting is “Africa Day.”

Africa Day is organized at the request of African Heads of State, and has been held at every COP since COP17 in Durban, South Africa. The essential purpose of Africa Day is to rally support for African nations to help them effectively navigate climate change and to help them meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

NDCs are a voluntary figure provided by each signee to the Paris Agreement that “outlines and communicates their post-2020 climate actions.”

Last year on Africa Day, during COP23 in Germany, African nations launched the Africa Nationally Determined Contributions Hub (Africa NDC Hub), a support platform that “works in collaboration with the global NDC Partnership to deliver targeted support to African countries as they implement their NDCs.”

As of last month, as reported by Africa Times, “49 African countries out of 54 had ratified their NDCs, representing 90% of African nations. This demonstrates the continent's level of awareness of and commitment to fight climate change.”

But these countries will need financial assistance to meet their NDCs (and it is important to note that African countries are suffering the effects of climate change disproportionately to their role in increasing global temperatures).

As Africa Times notes, “That’s especially critical for Africans, who already experience the effects of droughts, heat waves, flooding, disease and other climate-connected consequences.”

But Africa Times also reports good news: “Through the global NDC Partnership, Rwanda last week launched its green-investment program targeting specific sectors such as transportation and agriculture. East African countries including Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia are advancing their understanding of carbon markets. [And] Mozambique [which plays a key role in the Moving Giants initiative] just announced a new three-year plan to ensure it can deliver on its climate commitments.”