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COP24: Paris Agreement takes center stage as climate negotiations open in Poland


COP24: Paris Agreement takes center stage as climate negotiations open in Poland

COP24: Paris Agreement takes center stage as climate negotiations open in Poland
Photo credit: UNHCR | B. Bannon

The core business of the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) opened on Monday, 3 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland.

At the Katowice Conference Centre, more than 20,000 people all over the world are expected to gather to push for effective climate deal.

There is a remarkable level of expectation at COP24. Stakeholders expect this year’s climate talks to rekindle the momentum around climate finance and commitment to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. It is a case, no less, of agreeing on the ways and means to give the pdf Paris Agreement (505 KB) real force, so that the commitments made do not remain a forlorn hope.

Developed countries have pledged to increase climate financing for developing countries to $100 billion by 2020. Developing countries, including the 54 African countries, are expecting clearer commitments on this financing promise from the advanced countries.

And yet, only about 30 Heads of State and Government, essentially from Africa, the European Union and Small Island States made the journey to Katowice for the opening of COP24. The presidents of Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Botswana, Mauritania and Congo, for example, are present in this climate talks.

On the other hand, none of the leaders of the G20 member states, who are responsible for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, seem to have listed Katowice as a priority on its diplomatic agenda.

General feeling of climate emergency

The world is at a crossroads. The reality of climate change is clear and its impact increasingly being felt in various ways. In early October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published an alarming report, which reveals that at the current rate of warming, the 1.5°C threshold will be breached between 2030 and 2052.

In mid-November, a study published in Nature Climate Change modelled the extreme concurrent disasters to which humanity will be exposed by 2100, if we fail to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

On the eve of the opening of COP24, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reiterated that “if current trends in the concentration of greenhouse gases continue, the average surface temperature of the globe is set to increase by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by the end of the twenty-first century”.

Such scenarios do not bode well for Africa, which is bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change. In other words, Africa needs to unite all its advocacy efforts and strength to fight climate change and counter its effects.

At COP24, the African Development Bank (AfDB) will therefore pursue its advocacy work and mission to help the countries of Africa address the issue of climate change and begin their transitions towards green growth and low-carbon development.

Africa, on the front line of climate change impact

The degree of urgency is especially acute in the case of Africa, one of the regions of the world most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as evidenced again by the terrible drought in East Africa in 2017 and the drought endured by South Africa in 2018. In the 10-year period from 1995 to 2015, the African continent has suffered 136 episodes of drought, 77 of which have been in East Africa alone.

Drought, flood, rising sea levels, extreme weather events that threaten people’s food security, “climate migrants” – the list goes on, and the “bill” for climate change proves a high one for the African continent, despite its contributing less than 4% of world greenhouse gas emissions.

Of the 10 countries in the world considered most threatened by climate change, 7 are in Africa: Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Sudan. And climate change is even responsible for shaving off 1.4 points of GDP in Africa every year.

As the president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, has repeatedly said, it is urgent to act. At stake: the future of the continent – and its development and most importantly, the survival of the entire planet.

“With climate change there are no winners and no losers. Either we all win together, or we all lose together,” Adesina often says.

MDBs announce a joint framework for aligning their activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement

Nine Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) on Monday announced a joint framework for aligning their activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement, reinforcing their commitment to combat climate change.

In a joint declaration, the MDBs committed to working together in six key areas considered central to meeting the goals of the Agreement, which aims to limit the increase in global temperatures to well below 2°C, pursuing efforts for 1.5°C.

“The global development agenda is at a pivotal point,” the joint declaration says. “There is international consensus on the urgent need to ensure that policy engagements and financial flows are consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.”

The MDBs and the International Development Finance Club (IDFC) had already pledged in December 2017 to align financial flows with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. “To realise this vision, we are working together to develop a dedicated approach,” the joint MDB declaration adds.

The MDBs plan to break their joint approach down into practical work on six core Paris Alignment areas – the building blocks – including: aligning their operations against mitigation and climate-resilience goals; ramping up climate finance; capacity building support for countries and other clients; plus an emphasis on climate reporting.

This approach builds on the on-going MDB contribution to climate finance, which, in 2017, amounted to US$35 billion to tackle climate change in developing and emerging economies, mobilising an additional US$52 billion from private and public sector sources.

The MDBs will report back to next year’s COP25 gathering on their progress under the six building blocks.

The nine MDBs are: The AfDB Group, Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, Inter-American Development Bank Group, Islamic Development Bank, New Development Bank, and the World Bank Group (World Bank, IFC, MIGA).

Africa Day at COP24

The opening day of the COP24 Leader’s Summit was marked by the celebration of Africa Day, a joint initiative of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UN-ECA) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

This year’s event was held under the theme, “The Africa Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Hub: Going further and faster with NDC implementation in support of Agenda 2063”, and was jointly organized by the four Pan-African institutions along with the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of Gabon, and with the participation of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the African Risk Capacity (ARC).

The event sought to focus on how to ensure that all development partners deepen their partnerships and commitments to deliver concrete actions and resources towards providing effective and adequate means of implementation for African countries to deliver their NDC targets and enable the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The programme comprised several highlights, including a high-level statement by H.E. Mr. Regis Immongault, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Gabon on behalf of H.E. Mr. Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon and Coordinator of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change; and H.E Amb. Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, who also represented H.E. Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AUC.

A high level Ministerial panel and a Parliamentary dialogue provided a platform for detailed discussions on this year’s theme and Africa’s position at COP24. The last segment of the Africa Day was an expert panel discussion from various technical institutions on the theme of the day.

Some excerpts to the opening included H.E. Immongault who stressed on the outcomes of COP24 to facilitate development in Africa. To that effect, he emphasised the implementation of NDCs in Africa with strong partnership.

“I also extend appreciations for the Africa NDC Partnership Hub for reaching out to Partners to support Africa. In this regard, I wish to urge more Partners to come on board to support the African countries in the implementation of the NDCs for the achievement of the Paris Agreement in Africa,” he added.

H.E Amb. Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture stated that African countries have demonstrated over the years and remain committed to tackling climate change and its impacts. “Countries in Africa continue to suffer from the adverse impacts of climate change with the costs of climate change threatening the realization of the Aspirations of Agenda 2063, ‘The Africa we want’.

“Climate change is also partially to blame for increased migration of African youths to Europe through the deadly Mediterranean Sea as it is shrinking livelihood opportunities”. She further underlined on the link between climate change and conflicts in Africa as demonstrated by ‘Boko Haram’ insurgency in Western and Central Africa partly as a result of the shrinking of Lake Chad.

“As Parliamentarians we carry the hopes, aspirations and concerns of the peoples of Africa. Africa Day accorded us an opportunity to emphasize the need for parties to adopt concrete actions towards effective and adequate implementation of the Paris Agreement, especially in the context of the African Climate Legislation Initiative (ACLI),” said Hon. Kone Dognon, Chairperson of the Pan-African Parliament Committee of Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Dr. Anthony Nyong, Director of Climate Change and Green Growth, representing the President of the African Development Bank Group said, “African countries require significant resources to meet their Paris Agreement commitments.

“The Africa NDC Hub hosted at the African Development Bank, represents a concerted effort by development partner institutions to leverage each other’s comparative advantage in mobilizing resources necessary for Africa to embark on a low-carbon and climate-resilient development pathway.”

In a statement read on her behalf by Dr James Murombedzi, Officer in Charge of the African Climate Policy Centre, the Executive Secretary of the UNECA, Dr Vera Songwe, said that “the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa is implementing organizational reforms which will deepen engagement with the public and private sectors and ensure that public policy provides incentives for the private sector to contribute to the implementation of the NDCs and to take advantage of the investment opportunities offered by the transition to carbon neutral development pathways.”


Africa Day is organized at the request of African Heads of State and Government and has been held at every COP since COP17 in Durban.

Three years after the Paris Agreement was signed at COP21, Africa continues to consolidate its efforts, focusing particularly on partnerships to ensure that African nations are able to pursue a low-carbon and climate-resilient development path through the implementation of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

This calls for the developed countries to meet their responsibilities and commitments the Paris Agreement, especially with regards to providing new and additional funding at scale. This is in line with the roadmap for the Africa Agenda 2063 – ‘The Africa we want’, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Development Bank’s High 5s.

The Africa Nationally Determined Contributions Hub (Africa NDC Hub) was launched on Africa Day during COP23. Africa NDC Hub is a support platform set up by the African Development Bank with support from intergovernmental pan-African institutions (AUC, UNECA, NEPAD, AMCEN) and has drawn together a dozen other development partners.

The Africa NDC hub works in collaboration with the global NDC Partnership to deliver targeted support to African countries as they implement their NDCs.

The Africa NDC Hub with Secretariat hosted by the AfDB, has now developed a roadmap for coordinated support to Member States with long-term climate actions based on country-driven processes aligned with the Paris Agreement, the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Africa Agenda 2063; an increased mobilization of means of implementation and advocacy; and Enhanced advocacy and effective partnerships for NDC implementation.

As of November 2018, 49 African countries out of 54 had ratified their NDCs – representing 90% of African nations. This demonstrates the continent’s level of awareness of and commitment to fight climate change. It is estimated that Africa would need about US$3 trillion to implement the adaptation and mitigation targets in their NDCs by 2030.

Despite this huge need, Sub-Saharan Africa received an average of US$12 billion per year in 2015/16. There is urgency to shift the billions to trillions. The inability of African countries to deliver their NDC targets will endanger the global ability to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The Africa Day discussions focused on how to ensure that all development partners deepen their partnerships and commitments to deliver concrete actions and resources towards providing effective and adequate means of implementation (finance, capacity building, and technology development and transfer) for African countries to deliver their NDC targets and enable the achievement of the Paris Agreement goals.


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