Theme: Implementing the Paris Agreement for sustainable development in Africa
7-18 November 2016
COP 21 culminated in what has in many quarters been termed an historic climate agreement. At the same time many questions have been raised about the quality of agreement and its potential to undergird a robust global climate response. However, its significance lies in the fact that there was any agreement at all, following the Copenhagen debacle. That notwithstanding, there is a common recognition that much remains to be done in order to turn the framework into an effective agreement. The negotiations in Paris, and indeed the agreement itself, deferred many important decisions to COP 22, scheduled for Morocco in 2016. Thus COP 22 will represent a significant opportunity for Africa to take a lead on exploring and specifying the options for the implementation of the Paris agreement.
The Paris agreement acknowledges the need for further negotiation and refinement. Consequently, COP 22 is significant as the place where the Paris framework will be further refined, and gaps in the existing agreement filled in order to ensure a safe future climate. Already, the SABSTA meetings in Bonn have started to discuss the provisions of the Paris agreement that require further elaboration. This on-going negotiation is particularly important for Africa, given that the continent continues to bear the brunt of climate change while contributing the least to the phenomenon. It is thus in Africa’s interest to ensure that the Paris framework is consolidated into a binding and enforceable agreement which addresses the issues that concern the continent. In the lead up to Paris, these issues included the need to ensure balanced focus on adaptation and mitigation, limiting global warming to below 1.50C, ensuring adequate means of implementation, as well as maintaining the CBDR principle. The Paris framework does not conclusively address most of the continent’s concerns, and it is recognized that COP 22 represents an opportunity to advance the development of the Paris framework.
Key Issues for Africa at COP 22
The key issues that were not resolved in Paris and that will need to be addressed in COP 22 include the 2 degrees threshold, the mechanisms put in place to achieve that threshold, and the questions of means of implementation. Also outstanding are issues surrounding compensation for loss and damage from already occurring climate change.
It is common knowledge that the Paris framework commits to limiting global warming to well below 20C, and to strive to lower that target to less than 1.50C. It is also trite that Africa’s position in the lead up to Paris was to set a threshold of not more than 1.50C, as any warming beyond that could potentially represent irreversible impacts on the continent. The Paris framework is also based on individual nations committing to reduce their own emissions as a way to achieve the 20C threshold.
The Africa Pavilion at COP 22
Many aspects of the Paris agreement will require that African governments take leadership to ensure effective implementation in order to create the conditions for African economies to continue to grow and thrive in a changing climate. Those aspects of the agreement that call for African leadership include, inter alia, the development of mechanisms to ensure controlling global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees; the development of appropriate mechanisms for the effective implementation of the Nationally Determined Commitments, including raising the level of ambition particularly of developed countries’ NDCs; the provision of adequate means of implementation, including necessary mechanisms for technology transfer; the capitalization of existing climate funds and compensation for loss and damage; and the integration of compliance mechanisms capable of holding countries accountable for their NDCs in the transparency and accounting framework.
The Africa pavilion has developed into an important space for the discussion of key issues facing the continent in the COP. It has also come to constitute an important emotional and social space for networking, knowledge and information sharing, as well as capacity building among the different African delegations at the COP. Given that COP 22 is in Africa, and given also the importance of specifying implementation arrangements for the Paris agreement, it will be crucial for the pavilion to be convened at COP 22, with a focus on discussing the key issues pertaining to the implementation of the agreement as specified in the foregoing sections.