The Conference of Parties (COP), a recognition of global solidarity in the fight against climate change is right at our doorsteps. The 26th summit will be held in Glasgow which has seen various African heads of state and delegations travel to the UK for the summit. The event will see world leaders alongside negotiators and government representatives tackle climate change issues for 12 days. But what does this mean for Africa?
Africa has already felt a scathing attack on its motherland, with the dire effects of climate change hitting it hard. Recurring droughts have been ravaging the continent with for instance heatwaves, locust plagues, and cyclones hitting the African motherland hard just to mention but a few. One of the most ambitious goals of COP-26 is to secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach. To achieve these goals, proposals that have been made include, accelerating the phase-out of coal, curtailing deforestation, speeding up the switch to electric vehicles, and encouraging investment in renewable energy.
Developed countries promised to mobilize $100 bn in climate finance per year in 2020 but that promise has not yielded fruits with a shortfall of around $ 68 bn still in place. The shortfall raises critical questions regarding the commitment of developed countries to climate change. Further, it raises eyebrows regarding mechanisms in place to ensure compliance to these goals by developed nations. African leaders can not splurge out taxpayer's money for commitments that have no compliance implications. Leaders must demand accountability on promises made by the developed world. African policymakers on board should further emphasize the implications of non-compliance by the developed community.
Long-awaited, the summit is also a platform for African leaders to critically assess the debt implications of such payments particularly the interests charged by lending institutions. Africa is already coughing under heavy loans predominantly from the Chinese and Bretton woods institutions. There is no luxury to afford to take out more loans especially without prudent financial management regarding their servicing.
In any event, African leaders need to push for funding in homemade technology to assess how much carbon it emits. The continued dependency on the West regarding carbon emissions should not continue when Africa has its capacity to build technologies that provide this information. It is essential, more essential than ever that African leaders attending the COP-26 push for global carbon verification bodies to ensure fairness in the statistics regarding the issue.
The COP-26 can also be a reflective moment for African leaders whose science continues to be labeled as indigenous knowledge when the same information in the West is regarded as science. This labeling waters down the importance of African science and fuels a perception of dependency on “western science”.
The ambitious goals adopted by the COP are welcome. African leaders however need to be cognizant of the implications of the plans adopted. No doubt the switch to electric vehicles or the phasing out of cattle will take much more time in transition than in developed countries. Most African societies can barely afford electric cars let alone, their servicing.
Be that as it may, African negotiators should call for pragmatic plans of action. Zimbabwe has already made inroads with the pfumvudza program which is a zero tillage type of farming. The farming method is essential in suppressing carbon emissions and also in the utilization of land. The same can be said for Uganda that has also successfully adopted an online bicycle system used in Kampala. These few examples amongst a plethora of them exude the genuine commitment of developing African nations towards climate change. The developed world should also exude such commitment.