By BENEDICT TEMBO
The Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN), which Zambia chairs has expressed appreciation to the government of Egypt and the 27th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference of parties (COP-27) presidency for delivering a historic outcome. The AGN has pledged its full support to the incoming COP28 presidency of the United Arab Emirates which has assumed the role of leading parties in this crucial COP28 this year.
AGN Chairperson Ephraim Shitima is confident that COP28 will the COP that will deliver on the pledges.
“The African Group now calls for implementing targets to action and promises to implementation,” Mr Shitima said during the opening plenary of the 58th Session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) in Bonn, Germany on Monday.
Mr Shitima, who is Director – Green Economy and Climate Change in Zambia’s ministry of Green Economy and Enbironment, noted that the sixth Synthesis Report of the IPCC highlights the consequences of extreme climatic events and stresses the importance of enhancing ambitious action.
“Also, the WMO (World Meteorological Organisational) published a report warning that global temperature will increase in the next five years, narrowing the achievability of limiting the 1.5 temperature goal,” he said
Mr Shitima called on all parties to implement their Nationally Determined Commitments and reiterated the obligation under the Convention and the Paris Agreement that developed countries should take the lead in the efforts to address climate change.
“We would also like to register our concern about the estimated cost of adaptation in AR6, which states that adaptation costs will reach US$127 billion in developing countries, and Africa only needs up to $86.5 billion annually by 2030. We look forward to the SBSTA event on AR6 to further consider its outcome,” he said
Mr Shitima said the AGN will collaborate with parties to advance its work as UNFCCC is an essential space for the multilateral response.
Mr Shitima called for an ambitious outcome on adaptation at COP28.
“The Glasgow Sharm El-Shaik work programme on the global goal on adaptation will conclude in Dubai. We need a decision that delivers the promise of Articles 2.1 (b) and 7 of the Paris Agreement and advance progress on resilience for developing countries,” he said.
Mr Shitima said there is need to work on decision elements in Bonn to reach collective targets captured in politically significant framing to materialise the global goal on adaptation.
On the global stocktake, Mr Shitima said the AGN looks forward to engaging in the final technical dialogue of the second phase of the GST. “This technical assessment’s findings will inform the negotiations in the political phase. We commend the Co-Facilitators of the GST Technical Dialogue for the ‘emerging messages’ that will form the content of the factual synthesis report. We need to make an input as these messages will be considered by our ministers, who have the responsibility of enhancing action and engaging in international cooperative initiatives,” Mr Shitima said
He said it is important that these messages reflect the breadth of the findings from the best available science and various inputs that we have considered.
“What is abundantly clear is that parties are undertaking climate action from different contexts, in our case, in the context of sustainable development and the eradication of poverty. Some parties are pulling their weight; others are failing to meet their obligations,” he said
Mr Shitima said the GST outcome must operationalise fairness and a just transition for all.
“For instance, we cannot have deepened fossil fuel use in developed countries further eat into the ability of African countries to transition in light of constrained pathways towards 1.5 degrees. Our expectation of the form of the GST outcome is a negotiated one that is owned by all parties. We have the understanding that the High-Level Committee working in consultation with the parties will guide and facilitate this process,” he said.
Mr Shitima said the GST outcome must secure policy space and the appropriate means for African countries to implement their NDCs in the context of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and transitioning to low emission and resilient development.
He said it is also prudent for the process to leave SB58 with the outline and indicative elements of the final GST outcome and a sense of political messages.
“As COP28 is the GST COP. The GST should be an assessment of what we have achieved towards the goals of the Paris Agreement to address the wrongs and take corrective measures for better implementation of climate action,” Mr Shitima said.
On mitigation, he welcomed and thanked the parties for the discussions and informative exchange of views so far on the MWP.
“However, as the Africa Group, the MWP can be more impactful if it is linked to NDC’s ambition and implementation,” he said
On finance, Mr Shitima said promises made over 10 years ago are yet to be fulfilled.
“The Africa Group calls on developed countries to deliver to restore trust in the UNFCCC process. The GCF replenishment in October is an opportunity for developed countries to show the world they are willing to do their part to address climate change and support climate action in developing countries,” Mr Shitima said
He said the NCQG discussion also needs a political milestone decision at COP28 to assess the work done up to now and agree on key deliverables at COP29, including the quantum for the goal informed by the needs assessment report of the SCF that states developing countries require close to six trillion to implement their NDCs by 2030.
Mr Shitima said the AGN welcomes the work programme on just transitions pathways.
“We are of the view that it will advance the implementation of climate action and strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change in the context of sustainable development. The SBs here should agree on the work programme’s elements, scope, and modalities to be adopted at COP28,” he said
On Loss and Damage, Mr Shitima said the AGN underlines the significance of the outcome of the Glasgow Dialogue for informing the recommendations of the Transitional Committee to COP on the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund.
“In this regard, the Group is looking forward to engaging in a fruitful discussion with Parties in the Dialogue during this session,” he said
On the Santiago Network, Mr Shitima said the AGN reiterates that Santiago Network is crucial for catalysing technical assistance for increased action and support to developing countries directly and on the ground to enable them to implement approaches for addressing, averting, and minimising the loss and damage.
“In this regard, the finalisation of the selection of the host of the network during this session represents a major outcome towards the effective operationalisation of the Network. The GST should dedicate sufficient time for consideration of loss and damage, separate from adaptation discussion,” he said
Mr Shitima welcomed the decision of COP 27 that ensures agriculture is one of the priorities under the UNFCCC.
“We also welcome the request to the SBs to establish the Sharm Joint Work Programme for implementing climate action on agriculture and food security. However, we would like to insist on the urgency of delivering concrete actions through the new joint work programme, ” he said
Mr Shitima added that to achieve this, there is need for a robust structure to ensure that the collaborative work effectively implements the outcomes of the Koronivia joint work on agriculture and previous activities, avoiding repeating what was already discussed, assessed and agreed on. One of the milestones that will allow us to reach an effective implementation of needed actions and activities for agriculture and food security in a changing climate context is by establishing an expert group for agriculture and food security at COP28.
On Response Measures, Mr Shitima stressed the absolute necessity of maintaining National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) as a standing item on the agenda of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).
“We are quite surprised that this item which has been on the agenda has been dropped. Given the mounting climate challenges we face, particularly in our countries, we need to ensure that adaptation is not relegated to the sidelines but remains at the forefront of our climate discourse. Many African countries are struggling with formulating and implementing NAPs, it is thus crucial that we provide the space for assessing progress made in formulating and implementing national adaptation plans by developing countries and provide guidance to all stakeholders as necessary,” he said
Mr Shitima said there is need to foster a more inclusive and balanced conversation in this conference to reflect the needs and priorities of developing countries, especially adaptation. On development and transfer of technologies, the AGN calls for the genuine strengthening of the linkages between the Technology Mechanism and the financial mechanism of the convention in order to realise the implementation of technology-supported adaptation and mitigation actions in developing countries.
“We would like to realise positive progress with the SBI agenda on the said linkages to ensure that technology supported climate action is enhanced. Africa further calls for the inclusion of relevant recommendations of the ‘First periodic assessment referred to in paragraph 69 of decision 1/CP.21’ into the first global stocktake; and subsequently calls for an improvement in carrying out the second periodic assessment on adequacy of support provided to the technology mechanism in supporting the implementation of the Paris agreement, to inform the second global stocktake correctly, ” he said
On Gender and climate change, Mr Shitima said women and youth require adaptation measures as they are more affected by climate change impact differently in the continent.
“Integrating a gender perspective in adaptation activities is critical, particularly through the Global Goal for Adaptation (GGA), given that women are disproportionately impacted by the negative effects of climate change and can play a crucial role in adaptation efforts. It is also important to ensure that interventions respond to the gender-specific needs of women and girls, do not exacerbate inequalities, and contribute to empowering women as contained in the Gender Action Plan to drive change at all levels of the adaptation process,” he said
Mr Shitima said the AGN would like to adopt concrete targets for scaling up dedicated funding for gender and climate change, particularly the four priority areas agreed at COP 27, alongside gender mainstreaming that requires finances to be committed for effective climate action. “Effective accountability and transparency of climate finance tracking gender-responsiveness funding must be implemented and measured through regular UNFCCC/PA reporting processes. These measures would ensure women’s effective and meaningful participation at all levels of decision-making on climate change at the local, national, and global levels,” he said
Mr Shitima said Indigenous knowledge must be considered to build trust with the women and girls. Women’s chores within the household are immense and time-consuming; therefore, providing environmentally friendly and accessible technologies using, where possible affordable renewable energies.
With regard to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, Mr Shitima invited the SBSTA Chair to ensure a balanced treatment of pending issues for the three mechanisms and approaches.
“Some bilateral and multilateral cooperations have already been initiated, while certain crucial issues in Article 6.2 are still pending. At the same time, we invite the 6.4 SB to accelerate its work to respond to its mandate and to the secretariat about the Glasgow Committee on non-market-based mechanisms and capacity building for effective participation of developing countries, ” he said
On transparency, Mr Shitima expressed concern that they are once again not considering Annex I reports or their review.
“While we understand the reasons for this, we need a solution. We cannot continue this indefinitely. We are at the same time implementing the enhanced transparency framework under the Paris Agreement.
This is very challenging for developing countries, and we have, for that reason, agreed to a range of support measures. Our concerns, which we will raise this session, are about the timely implementation of these measures and, most importantly, that this support is adequate to the challenge and that it builds sustainable capacity in our governments,” he said