Climate conference calls for African-funded research council

The 11th Climate Change and Development in Africa Conference has resolved that the African Union should lead efforts to establish an African-funded research council and ensure that the continent’s education and training systems are responsive to climate change.

The conference was held from 1-3 September in Nairobi, Kenya, and comes at a time when the world is grappling with the notable effects of climate change.

Experts say that while Africa’s per capita emissions are significantly lower than the global average, the continent is disproportionately affected by rising global temperatures and escalating climate consequences. Drought, desertification and cyclones, among other effects, are causing food shortages, displacement and migration.

Part of the conference’s outcome statement noted that developed countries are responsible for 75% of historical carbon emission, while Africa accounts for less than 4%.

The Climate Change and Development in Africa Conference is a flagship event of the Climate for Development in Africa initiative, a joint collaboration of the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

It was convened under the theme: ‘Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World: Africa in solidarity for global climate action’.

Disproportionate effects

The conference expressed concern about the increasing frequency and severity of climate change impacts resulting in disproportionate effects on African countries.

Acting Executive Secretary for the Economic Commission for Africa Antonio Pedro said estimates indicate that, by 2030, Africa could spend 5% of its annual GDP on climate crises based on a warming scenario of two degrees, with the Sahel region paying as much as 15%.

Pedro also said the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change estimates that Africa will require between US$65 billion and US$86.5 billion annually for adaptation alone up to 2030 but, currently, the continent receives a mere US$11.4 billion in adaptation financing per year.

In response to concerns about “limited investments in weather and climate observation infrastructure, early warning systems, and climate research in Africa,” the conference resolved that Africa should “enhance the science-policy-practice interface to promote data and information gathering, product development, and advice on climate change. The African Union must lead efforts to establish an African-funded research council.

“Africa must ensure that its education and training systems are responsive to climate change,” reads part of the outcomes statement.

The conference took note of the African Union Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022-32), a continental framework for climate action.

Looking ahead to COP28

It said Africa’s special needs and special circumstances must be recognised at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) to contextualise the continent’s just transition pathways.

This is in line with the overall objective of the conference to produce detailed analytical data-driven and evidence-based recommendations to contribute to the outcome statements for African heads of state, towards and beyond COP28, which is being held in Dubai later this year.

Pedro said that, despite the climate change challenges faced by Africa, the situation was “far from hopeless. Africa is a solutions powerhouse for saving the climate.

“The continent has abundant renewable energy resources, including 40% of the world’s solar irradiation potential,” he said.

“Against this backdrop, the continent is a great location for advancing green hydrogen.”