Weah Calls on Emitters to Honor Their Financial Obligations

President George Weah addressing world leaders and participants at COP27

By Evelyn Kpadeh Seagbeh 

President George M. Weah has told developed countries to honor the financial pledges to poor and low-income countries. 

Weah was speaking at a gathering of world leaders in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, where they are currently meeting at the United Nations Climate Change conference.

In 2009, developed countries pledged to provide USD 100 million to developing countries to address the effects of climate change. Last year at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC), parties to the treaty reiterated the need for developed countries to honor this commitment. Yet, so far, little progress has been made.

“We are also saddened to note that inequity and imbalance remain between high and low emitters in the climate change architecture and that the financial flows remain disproportionate and unfair to low-emitting countries," said Weah.

The Liberian leader reminded the audience in Egypt that one year after, they are still to see those commitments made fulfilled. Weah decried the unfair and disproportionate financial flows to low-emitting countries. 

Weah again called on world leaders to honor their commitments for the sake of future generations.

“As we assemble here once again to find a pragmatic and productive way forward, let us do so with renewed dedication, commitment, and sincerity so that we harness our collective strengths to develop lasting solutions that will save our world, not only for ourselves but for generations yet unborn.” 

Importance of Liberia's Forest

Liberia’s forests are extremely rich in biodiversity and are recognized as a global conservation hotspot, accounting for approximately 6.6 million lowland tropical forests, according to the Forest Carbon Partnership, a program of the World Bank covering Liberia. Analysts argue that this forest potential could position Liberia at the center of climate negotiations. But, so far, Liberia has not been central to the talks. 

Liberia’s forests make up more than two-thirds of the country’s land area, equivalent to twice the size of Belgium, according to the World Bank.

During last year’s climate change conference, Weah affirmed to world leaders his country’s commitment to preserving Liberia’s forests since it plays a critical role in sustaining and safeguarding the planet. Like every forest, Liberia contains some of the region’s highest carbon stocks. Liberia has, however, between 1990 to 2010 Liberia lost 0.61 percent per year of its forest to deforestation and logging activities. 

About half of Liberia’s rural population occupying 2.5 kilometers of forest areas’ livelihood depends on the forest. They cut down trees for firewood and charcoal and planks for construction, earning them 35% of their incomes, a World Bank 2020 report states. 

Climate change in the last eight years has got devastating effects on the world, with historic droughts in the horn of Africa affecting parts of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya as well as northern Italy, south-eastern France, parts of Hungary, and Romania. 

On the other hand, Liberia has witnessed the disappearance of a vast portion of its beautiful coastal lands due to high sea-level rise and flooding in most parts, displacing hundreds of inhabitants, while farmers are struggling to grapple with the climate and effect and the lack of access to adaptation technologies among other things.  

Against this backdrop, Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Executive Director, Prof. Wilson Tarpeh, told leaders that peace is not the absence of war, stressing that the effects of climate change are a threat to human existence and peace. The EPA Director was speaking during a panel discussion at COP27 on the theme "Sustaining Peace In The Midst of Climate Change."

“Peace is not the absence of war, and there can be difficult situations that can have lasting consequences on people, and what climate change does is it poses a threat to peace. People go from place to place because there is a climate change.”

Tarpeh cited how climate change has led to the migration of millions of people from countries due to flooding, drought, or poor agriculture yields. 

Liberia’s National Determined Contributions

During the first week of COP27, Liberia launched its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
NDC is a climate action plan to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts that each party to the Paris Agreement signed. It requires nations to establish an NDC and update it every five years, detailing policy actions. 

This story is produced as part of the 2022 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.