ANALYSIS Kilili Nthiw’a 31 March 2022
The 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from 7-18 November 2022. Ordinarily, it ought to be the 28th session but for the Covid-19 Pandemic which saw the postponement of COP 26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom, from November 2020 to November 2021[i] pushing further the 27th session to November 2022 in Egypt, the second time the Climate Change Conference is returning to Africa since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015.[ii]
The Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016.[iii] The agreement is an international legally binding agreement on climate change and through it, states sought to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and where possible preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.[iv] Through the agreement, state parties also agreed to gradually reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to primarily be able to combat climate change, limit the effects thereof and most importantly, adapt to them.
Of importance to note however is that this is a process initially capped at 5 years with state parties thereafter required to report their progress by the year 2020 to the Conference of State Parties.[v] With COP 26 postponed to 2021, owing to the ravaging effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Glasgow in 2021 presented the perfect opportunity for states to conduct an appraisal of their compliance with the Paris Agreement.
Glasgow 2021 – The Glasgow Climate Pact
The package of decisions arrived from the deliberations held during COP 26 at Glasgow amount to what is known as Decision -/CP.26, The Glasgow Climate Pact and they primarily centre on 3 key issues, to wit, Finance for Climate Adaptation, Transparency and Reporting and Market Mechanisms and non-market approaches.[vi] It is here where state parties were required to inter alia, report, through their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s), the actions they were taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to comply with the Paris Agreement. For the purposes hereof, I will concentrate on the first of the three key issues – Finance for Climate Adaptation.
Finance for Climate Adaptation – Towards Egypt 2022
In Paris, state parties agreed to enhance adaptive capacity in the context of the Agreement’s goal of limiting warming up to 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2 degrees Celsius. In that pursuit, states established and launched at COP 26 the Glasgow – Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the global goal on adaptation.[vii] This was in recognizance of the fact that the effects of climate change are real and one of the most real ways of dealing with climate change is by way of adaptation.
A great milestone achieved at COP 26 is that developed states pledged USD 100 billion to developing countries, an amount be shared on a 50:50 basis between climate change adaptation and mitigation,[viii] although that has not been invariably the case as mitigation has always tended to take the lion’s share of the fund.
Another milestone were the increased financial pledges made to the Adaptation Fund (USD 350 million) as well as the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) (USD 600 million) which would help vulnerable persons deal with the worsening impacts of climate change.[ix]
The terms climate change and climate justice are sometimes used interchangeably with the latter often referring to the fact that effects of climate change are not often felt equally across the globe.
African countries contribute a mere 4% to global emissions, but bear the most brunt of their impacts with livelihoods being severely affected across the continent owing to the disastrous effects of climate change.[x]
Through the African Group of Negotiators and at the Africa Pavilion, African states forged a united stand at COP 26, which common voice inevitably contributed to most of the wins at Glasgow.[xi]
The pledge of increased climate adaptation funding to the tune of USD 100 billion, during COP 26, in which the most amounts go the Least Developed Countries Fund and the pledge of an additional funding to the tune of USD 40 billion should be of particular interest to African Countries, most of which fall in the Least Developed Countries category.
Additionally, the efforts and lessons learnt from Glasgow should form the basis for focus by African countries on advocacy and policy efforts leading up to COP27, especially with the conference returning to Africa for the second time since Marrakesh 2016.
A COP in Africa should definitely give countries in the region a much-needed boost on many fronts including climate finance and adaptation. It is a huge opportunity for African countries to shape the agenda of the conference and ensure that it responds to the needs of the continent as well as those of the global south at large, making it therefore an African-focused conference. Going by the outcomes of Glasgow 2021 which was apparently a successful outing for developing countries, African countries could do well by going one step further and forging an even stronger united front at COP 27 for the benefit of a continent that bears the most brunt of the effects of climate change.
Kilili Nthiw’a is Sports Lawyer, Sycophant of European Union Law, independent researcher and a DAAD Legal Scholar at the Tanzanian-German Center for East African Legal Studies at the University of Dar Es Salaam.
[i] D Banda and M Owusu-Gyamfi, ‘The Road to COP27 in Africa: Three Priorities for Action’ (ACET, 28 February 2022) https://acetforafrica.org/publications/articles/the-road-to-cop27-in-africa-three-priorities-for-action/?gclid=CjwKCAjwoduRBhA4EiwACL5RP5pXTpxantfx-u04fbI8GvOANgK_PU_8CrJM1MV5f-NfgXuTQCvd6hoC6gsQAvD_BwE accessed 4 April 2022
[iii] ‘The Paris Agreement’ (UNFCCC) https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement accessed 4 April 2022
[vi] ‘The Glasgow Climate Pact – Key Outcomes from COP26’ (UNFCCC) https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-glasgow-climate-pact-key-outcomes-from-cop26 accessed 4 April 2022
[vii] ‘COP26 Outcomes: Finance for Climate Adaptation’ (UNFCCC) https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-glasgow-climate-pact/cop26-outcomes-finance-for-climate-adaptation#eq-1 accessed 4 April 2022
[x] D Banda and M Owusu-Gyamfi, ‘The Road to COP27 in Africa: Three Priorities for Action’ (ACET, 28 February 2022) https://acetforafrica.org/publications/articles/the-road-to-cop27-in-africa-three-priorities-for-action/?gclid=CjwKCAjwoduRBhA4EiwACL5RP5pXTpxantfx-u04fbI8GvOANgK_PU_8CrJM1MV5f-NfgXuTQCvd6hoC6gsQAvD_BwE accessed 4 April 2022