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Africa Grapples With Financing Climate Change Programmes

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By Justus Wanzala

NAIROBI (ACP-IDN) – African countries are faced with the huge challenge of funding climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes to ensure sustainable development. Hard hit by the impacts of climate change manifested in persistent droughts, floods, storms, rising sea levels and other forms of disasters, they are linking actions on tackling climate change as key to attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A joint project of the 79-nation African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States is providing support for the purpose as part of a joint project with the Global Climate Change Alliance+ (GCCA) by way of offering technical assistance, promoting knowledge sharing, initiating regional dialogue, and facilitating regional partnership on climate change issues.

The Intra-ACP GCCA+ Programme conducted its first Regional Coordination Meeting on March 26-28, 2018 at the ACP House in Brussels. The meeting brought together Intra-ACP GCCA+ regional partners to discuss programme implementation and foster inter and intra ACP coordination and cooperation.

Climate change was also the centre-piece of the first-ever Africa Climate Week (ACW2018) convened at the UN Complex Nairobi in Kenya to address climate issues in the regional context, support implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the SDGs, and provide input to the formal negotiations under the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC), through the Talanoa Dialogue.

Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. The Presidencies of global climate conference – COP22 and COP23 – presented the outcome of their consultations on the dialogue and on this basis, made available the approach to the dialogue to all Parties. COP23 in Bonn welcomed with appreciation the design of the 2018 facilitative dialogue, to be known as the Talanoa Dialogue, and launched the dialogue, which started in January 2018.

Delegates attending ACW2018 from April 9-13 agreed that action on climate change is key to achieving sustainable development.

Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) called for creation of synergy between the different SDGs in particular the climate goal, arguing that it is key to achievement of all the other goals. He spoke during the closing of the first Africa Climate Week, which had the 10th Africa Carbon Forum as its key event.

Around 800 participants drawn from 59 countries, among them ministers and other high-level government and international officials as well as non-state delegates attended the forum.

David On’are, Director, Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) emphasized that Africa is capable of providing leadership of ambitious climate change action in the world. “There is the need to raise ambition, interest, and innovation and mobilise necessary means of implementation to address climate change,” he said.

But some voices were cautious. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said ambition must be accompanied by action. Responsibility should not just be left to national governments alone. All levels of government, business, investors and ordinary people should be involved, she said.

Africa Climate Week was hosted by the Government of Kenya and organised by the Nairobi Framework Partnership, together with Kenya’s NEMA. It was held at the time when Nairobi Framework Partnership (NFP) is marking its 10th anniversary, and with the Africa Carbon Forum, which was launched by NFP to spur investment in climate action through carbon markets, mechanisms and finance.

The NFP comprises the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, International Emissions Trading Association, UNEP and the Technical University of Denmark (UNEP-DTU) partnership, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Bank Group.

Delegates noted that public finance must be instrumental in unlocking private finance and that energy should be given high priority because it affects all sectors.

Al Hamdou Dorsouma, Manager for Climate and Green Growth Division, African Development Bank (AfDB) said climate change is negatively affecting efforts to achieve SDGs, because huge amounts of money are spent on mitigation efforts.

Dorsouma regretted that there is lack of a global financial instrument for funding climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives. Many African countries have established climate funds but they are not harmonized and have problems of mobilsing funds. “We are seeing innovations come up in African countries to align Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with National Determined Contributions (NDCs), we need to scale them up,” he said.

In what appears a sign of optimism, John Christensen, Director, UNEP-DTU partnership said that the Africa Carbon Forum was a clear sign of countries in the region moving forward to implement the Paris Agreement in spite of the limited international climate financial resources. (Countries agreed in Paris in December 2015 to limit global average temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius and work toward a safer 1.5-degree goal).

“No doubt this will be challenging and countries in the African region will while taking the lead need support from more developed countries and the private sector that takes a part of the responsibility while ensuring it happens in effective and wealth generating ways,” he said.

On his part, Dirk Forrister, Chief Executive Officer of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), observed that the strength of Africa’s response to climate challenge is rooted in how well African business can become partners in the effort. “Many African businesses are interested in how the market incentives of regional cooperation can unleash important new climate business potential in the region,” said Forrister.

Edith Ofwona, Senior Proramme Specialist of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) at its Nairobi office, reiterated that adaptation to climate change is the key link between SDGs and NDCs. “Local communities should be involved in adaptation and mitigation projects and indigenous resources harnessed in their implementation,” she said. As we implement climate change mitigation, structural barriers causing inequalities should be addressed.

Blessings Chiwadire from the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe said that without financing it will be difficult to achieve the NDCs. Challenges facing African nations in implementing their climate change and mitigation projects apart from financial constraints are limited resources for project preparations, regulatory impediments and financial distortions and capacity constraints, Chiwadire added.

Meanwhile, Joy Aeree Kim, Senior Economic Affairs Officer at UNEP’s Economic and Fiscal Policy Unit’s Economy Division in Geneva explained that a key barrier to green investment is lack of policy aligned with investments. “As of 2015, global fossil fuel subsidies amount to USD 425 billion, more than double the amount spent on renewable energy,” said Joy.

Moreover, added Joy, perverse incentives through subsidies also undermine action to address climate change, encourage excessive energy consumption and crowd out investment in clean energy. “Only around 13 per cent of annual global Green House Gas emissions are currently formally priced and typically at levels below USD10 per ton. While new carbon pricing measures, such as those planned in China, will help improve this situation, there is still a long way to go,” said Joy.

In an interview with IDN, Joy stressed the need to reform green fiscal policy to redirect public investment and send a right price signal to the market for green investment. “Providing fiscal incentives such as tax credits to financial mechanisms such as green bonds or infrastructure bonds could also leverage much needed investment for green energy,” she said.

Joy informed that UN Environment is supporting countries to reform green fiscal policy to mobilise domestic resources for green investment while internalizing environmental externalities and advising countries how public funds such as sovereign wealth funds could be redirected for green investment.

Exploring new avenues seems crucial. Joy said Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) hold total assets worth USD 7.5 trillion under management globally; yet, their participation in green finance has remained very low, with most estimates suggesting less than one percent of total assets under management. “Well-managed SWFs can support climate financing by improving the quality of public spending, strengthening competitiveness, earmarking spending for high impact projects, and promoting green investment,” she observed.

Sub-Saharan African countries are heavily dependent on biomass as a source of energy for cooking. In an interview with IDN, Leslie Labruto, Associate Director, Global Energy said clean cooking companies are working to solve an incredible market need; however the sector is experiencing some of the greatest challenges in attracting capital. [IDN-InDepthNews – 23 April 2018]

Photo: The walkway of the UN Headquarters in Nairobi. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

This report is part of a joint project of the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States and IDN, flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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