Africa demands renewed efforts to arrest climate change

African governments have vowed to speak with one voice during the Paris climate talks slated for later this year in efforts to arrest worsening climate change and ensure sustainable management of the continent’s natural resources.

This comes after ministers and delegates from 54 African countries met in Cairo at the 15th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) and issued the Cairo Declaration.

The declaration reaffirmed their resolve to reach a binding climate change agreement that reflects the continent’s priorities and aspirations at the Paris talks later this year and the need to improve the management of Africa’s abundant natural resources and the integration of the inclusive green economy in development planning.

“The Cairo Declaration covers a wide range of priorities for the continent from climate change and natural resources management to the illegal trade in wildlife and the integration of the inclusive green economy across sectors,” said Dr Khaled Fahmy, AMCEN President and Egypt Minister for Environment.

He added that African countries are committed to solidarity and a determination to play a positive and responsible role in support of sustainable development, building resilience and poverty eradication.

The ministers agreed to support an agreement in 2015 that provides parity between mitigation and adaptation, noting the increased burden for adaptation in developing countries.

They indicated the agreement needs to ensure that the mitigation ambition keeps global temperatures well below 1.5°C from pre-industrial levels, by the end of the century.

Africa has been vulnerable to the effects of climate change, in particular the adverse effects on ecosystems, food production and social and economic development.

Research shows that Africa is the continent where a rapidly changing climate is expected to deviate earlier than across any other continent from “normal” changes.

The second edition of the Africa Adaptation Gap report indicates that extensive areas of Africa will exceed 2°C by the last two decades of this century, relative to the late 20th century mean annual temperature. This would have a severe impact on agricultural production, food security, human health and water availability.

In a 4˚C world, projections for Africa suggest sea levels could rise faster than the global average and reach 80 cm above current levels by 2100 along the Indian and Atlantic Ocean coastlines, with particularly high numbers of people at risk of flooding in the coastal cities of Mozambique, Tanzania, Cameroon, Egypt, Senegal and Morocco.

Under these scenarios, adaptation costs would reach $50 billion annually by mid-century.

The Cairo Declaration calls for a global goal for adaptation which takes into account adaptation needs and associated costs, including support for developing countries while recognizing the need to up adaptation investments in developing nations.

“The only insurance against climate change impacts is ambitious global mitigation action in the long-run, combined with large-scale, rapidly increasing and predictable funding for adaptation,” noted Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

He added investment in building resilience must continue to be a top funding priority, including as an integral part of national development planning.


United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

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