Climate Justice should be at the centre of COP 27, the Africa COP
By Vincent Mogaka - Hivos
As a phenomenon that affects the whole world, climate change clearly warrants a comprehensive global response.
While this has been the intent of international negotiations held on the subject, starting with the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and continuing through the annual meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the convention, there has been an ongoing tendency to focus on some issues and interests, but not others. One of these issues is “loss and damage”.
Loss and damage is a general term used in UN climate negotiations to refer to the consequences of climate change that go beyond what people can adapt to or when options exist. Still, a community doesn’t have the resources to access them. Loss and damage are and will continue to harm vulnerable communities the most, making addressing the issue a matter of climate justice.
In recent years, the notion of “climate justice” has emerged as a way of encapsulating the equity aspects of climate change. Climate justice builds on a platform of equitable development, human rights and political voice. It is an agenda that seeks to redress global warming by reducing disparities in development and power that drive climate change and continued injustice. This implies transformative changes and the need to look beyond national boundaries to what is good for the world as a whole.
One of the most fundamental gaps involves the equity dimensions of climate change. Climate change at its heart reveals the still stark divides in resources, development paths and emissions contributions between rich and poor nations and rich and poor people within those nations. Almost all aspects of climate change can be traced along these lines: who has caused it, who can cope with it and how, who will survive and even benefit, and who will be hardest hit by the consequences.
Equity is foremost a matter of justice and human rights, recognising that groups that have benefitted most from high levels of emissions in the course of their development are now called upon to ensure that other groups have equal opportunities to develop within a framework of mutual efforts to slow the pace of climate change. The fact that some people with the lowest levels of emissions and development will suffer some of the most severe consequences of climate change must also be rectified.
Thirteen years ago, at a United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, rich nations pledged to channel US$100 billion a year to less wealthy nations by 2020 to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further temperature rises. Compared with the investment required to avoid dangerous levels of climate change, the $100-billion pledge is minuscule. Trillions of dollars will be needed each year to meet the 2015 Paris agreement goal of restricting global warming to “well below” 2 °C, if not 1.5 °C, above pre-industrial temperatures. And developing nations will need hundreds of billions of dollars annually to adapt to the warming that is already inevitable.
Kenya is one of the many developing nations. It is highly vulnerable to climate change as its economy depends on many climate-sensitive sectors, such as agriculture, water, energy, tourism, wildlife, and health. Tracking of climate finance flows in Kenya since the Paris Agreement established that USD 2.4 billion flowed to climate-related investments in 2018, one-third of the finance needed annually.
At COP26, the negotiating bloc G77 & China proposed a solution to the gap in finance available to address their needs in the form of an L&D Finance Facility (LDFF), which will be able “to provide new financial support under Article 9 of the Paris Agreement (PA), in addition to adaptation and mitigation finance, to developing countries to address loss and damage”. This was, however, opposed by developed countries. Instead, the Glasgow Dialogue (GD) was established, which presently remains to be defined with clear milestones and outcomes.
As we advocate for more funding, we also need better structures to access the funds at the grassroots where the impact is greater. Research by IIED found that less than 10% of funding committed under international climate funds to help developing countries take action on climate change is directed at the local level. This has to change. As we move closer to COP 27 taking place in Egypt, colloquially referred to as an African COP, it is key that a stand-alone finance facility for loss and damage, the Loss and Damage Finance Facility is at the centre of the negotiations and concrete agreements and commitments are in place. Or else we run the risk of an African COP being unresponsive to the needs of Africa. A climate just response must put local communities at the centre of climate response.