COP22 President Demands a Unified Africa; -Wants more support for each country in the fight

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The president of the Conference of Parties (COP) meeting on climate change scheduled to be held in November in Morocco, Salaheddine Mezouar, has called on all African countries to go to the conference as a unified front. He said Africa needs to speak with one voice if the continent is to achieve its objectives in Marrakech.

Although Africa emits the least greenhouse gases, the continent is the worst victim of climate change, and there seems to be no solution to bring this tragic situation to an end because the solution has eluded the continent; and it must be found in Marrakech, declared Mezouar.

Mr. Mezouar is also Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and a long-time advocate for climate justice.

At the Marrakech conference where the future of the continent will be on the line, negotiators will highlight the issue of climate financing and climate justice.

“If Africa is to succeed in the fight against climate change, we must unite in this fight because it is the only way we will make progress,” Mezouar said.

He urged Africans to be vigilant at the conference so that the challenges they face can be highlighted at the Marrakech Summit.

The continent is currently facing the worst effects of climate change. Drought, for example, is responsible for massive displacement of people, known as climate refugees, while sea erosion is gradually swallowing up countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Unfortunately, the African continent will continue to bear the brunt of the “inhumane conditions caused by climate change until the perpetrators, those countries that are responsible for discharging toxins, especially the biggest emitters of greenhouse gas, United States and China – who reluctantly signed the Paris Agreement recently after almost a year of delay – see the need to put more money into climate financing,” he said. The two countries combined emit 29 percent of environmental pollutants.

There are also other negative impacts of climate change, and the Marrakech conference presents the best opportunities for these issues to be adequately discussed, Mezouar told journalists at his ministry last week. The journalist had gathered from across Africa to get first-hand information about the COP22 preparations.

Despite the huge negative impact of climate change on the continent, Africa has access to four percent of climate financing—meaning that the continent is heavily reliant on partners.

There are huge commitments from industrialized countries to considerably reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions, but these pledges will not limit global warming to 2°C. Therefore, experts say, the consequences of global warming will be dire for agriculture and water supplies and threaten the most vulnerable regions and their populations.

However, Mezouar is urging governments to raise their nationally drafted programs— Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to fight climate change—and make concrete, realistic plans to back up their national pledges.

He noted that countries need to translate their INDCs into investible programs through greater access to finance, adaptation of policy frameworks and better project planning. The involvement of non-state actors, especially the private sector, should be encouraged to form part of the process—as they contribute investments, capability building and technology transfer.

In a related development, Mezouar, a two-day informal consultation among 140 delegates and climate negotiators from over 50 countries was also held in Skhirat, Morocco, said Climate change is a potential source of tensions, intra-community and interstate wars.

Speaking at the conference dubbed “Defense and Climate Change,” Mezouar stressed that “climate disorder causes a security disorder,” and it “represents a major risk for peace and security.”

Because of the expected doubling of Africa’s population by 2050, the COP22 President noted that climate change will have catastrophic effects on the continent with a decrease of 4.7% of GDP, mainly due to the deterioration of the agricultural sector, which is likely to undermine the stability of States by increasing unemployment, particularly within the youth, thereby promoting some level of civil unrest.

Mezouar also noted that defense departments, especially those in industrialized nations, are already contributing to climate action by using space technologies to measure emissions and observe weather and climate phenomena.

The consultation was convened by Mezouar. Its goal was for delegates to advance on discussions around key issues such as expected outcomes for the forthcoming COP22 conference.

It was also meant to highlight the Pre-2020 Agenda including developing a $100 billion per year climate finance roadmap and the status of ratifications and possible early entry into force of the Paris Agreement.

Present at the ceremony was the Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), Patricia Espinosa.

Mezouar urged delegates to work closely together to advance key issues to ensure success at the COP Summit in November. In particular, he highlighted the importance of making progress on the $100 billion per year climate finance roadmap. He also underscored the need for “COP22 to be a moment of action with particular attention on Africa and the most vulnerable countries to climate change.”

Meanwhile, Africa is at the dawn of an unprecedented growth. As outlined by the Africa Progress Panel (APP), the continent has the opportunity to choose a model for its industrialization. A ‘green growth’ model that would draw on its vast renewable resource potential for economic growth that would give it an advantage on global markets, would be ideal for Africa, the Association of Private-Public (APP) sector advocacy group based in South Africa said.

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