President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said it is time for leaders to walk the talk to restore hope in leadership by taking pragmatic steps to save the world from the impact of climate change. “It is time to turn words into deeds and ambition into action. With the world in flames and under fl ood waters, the eyes of people everywhere will be on the decision-makers at COP 27. They have to deliver if they are to escape the censure of history,” the President told leaders at the Climate Adaptation Summit in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Africa Adaptation Programme
The summit, hosted by the Global Centre on Adaptation and held for in-person attention and virtual participation, was to garner further support and resources for the continent’s flagship Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme (AAAP). It was in collaboration with the African Union (AU), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Africa Adaptation Initiative and the Climate Vulnerable Forum to lay the foundation for an adaptation breakthrough for Africa at the COP 27. Although it was expected to attract many leaders, only the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, and three African leaders – President Akufo-Addo, Senegal’s President Macky Sall and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Felix Tshisekedi – attended in person. In 2009, wealthy countries promised to deliver $100 billion a year to developing countries in climate finance by 2020. However, that promise has not been honoured, with over $17 billion in arrears by the promise schedule of 2020. At last year’s COP 26 Summit, some rich countries pledged to double their adaptation finance contributions from 2019 levels by 2025. This will increase it from $20 billion a year to $40 billion.
Effect of not acting
He emphasised the importance for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, simply referred to as COP 27, to deliver on its commitment to double financing towards climate adaptation efforts in Africa. President Akufo-Addo said the failure of the world to keep to its promise to provide financial support to push for climate adaptation meant many countries ran the risk of losing out on making significant progress. “For instance, the consequence of not turning words into action means that as a middle-income economy, Ghana stands to lose out to the effects of more acute and frequent climate hazards, despite significant progress made through the AAAP on climate emergency,” he said. He said Africa contributed to the least climate emergency, yet it was facing increasingly more intense climate-related extreme effects, stressing that a concerted effort was needed to move the continent from the crossroads.
“If we want our continent to thrive, we have to adapt to climate change. And to achieve this, adaptation financing needs to start flowing at scale. Climate action must not become another casualty of the complex geopolitical era that we are experiencing,” President Akufo-Addo indicated.
Addressing the risks
He stressed that already the geopolitical circumstances were hitting hard on the continent and the situation was being compounded by climate issues. We are aware of the current geopolitical circumstances. Food and energy security are at risk across the world, inflation is rapidly rising, and climate change threatens the progress we have made, especially in Africa. COVID-19, which resulted in sub-Saharan Africa’s first recession in some 25 years, is still hurting Africa,” he said. Sharing some statistics, President Akufo-Addo said some 26 million people fell into extreme poverty and 30 million jobs had been lost due to the repercussions of the pandemic in Africa, adding, however, that individual countries were committing their resources to address the threats the situation had created. “My country, Ghana, is attempting to use its own fiscal resources to address these risks. The same is true for other African countries. However, the growing food and fuel crises are limiting severely our fiscal space to respond effectively, as the cost of borrowing goes up prohibitively and access to the capital market tightens dramatically,” he stressed. President Sall, in his presentation, was disappointed at the absence of the wealthy countries, stressing that the wealthy countries responsible for most CO2 emissions should have been there. “I cannot fail to note with a touch of bitterness the absence of the leaders of the industrialised world because these are the main polluters of our planet and it is they who should finance adaptation,” he said. He cautioned that it was not just Africa that was at risk but the entire humanity was under threat if the rich countries failed to support Africa. “It is not just the fate of Africa that is at stake, but the fate of humanity and the future of the planet,” he noted. Moral duty A former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said the world had a moral duty to help African countries adapt, more so when the continent emitted just three per cent of the global emissions. “Africa emits just some three per cent of global CO2 emissions; we have a moral duty to help the continent adapt,” the former UN chief said.