‘Let’s persuade skeptics of climate change in Africa’

posted in: Africa

Photo: Huffington Post

PANA

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia- The Third Annual Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA-III) kicked off in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Monday against a background of growing sense of urgency to respond to the impacts of climate change.

There is also concern about the slow progress by the historic emitters in fulfilling commitments to benefit Africa to tackle the challenge of climate change.

The three-day conference is designed to provoke debate among experts and stakeholders in development policy and practice on how opportunities in climate change can enhance Africa’s transformative economic growth and development agenda.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said: “We need to persuade the skeptics of climate change in Africa, on just how vulnerable we are to it. We should do this by navigating scientific findings and hard facts that make its impacts unequivocal.”

Citing the new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Lopes said the last three decades have been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.

Warming across Africa is predicted at an alarming rate and Africa is becoming familiar with some of the effects of climate variability across the continent, he said.

With an average GDP growth projected to remain around 5 percent, the ECA chief expressed regret that Africa continues to be patronised and perceived as a casualty of climate change, as opposed to a contributor to the solution.

According to him, Africa is trapped in global negotiations on climate change which, on the whole, are largely driven by global and external interests.

“To enter the solution space, Africa must firm up its own views on how to put the continent’s interest first. Climate change offers Africa an array of incredible investment opportunities that can reap dividends,” the ECA Executive Secretary said.

He proposed to the conference a six-point strategy which includes an Africa that is not locked in any technology preferences to follow a green and clean energy pathway, saying the continent is well positioned to absorb, adapt and build on the vast quantities of scientific and technical knowledge already available.

Lopes also said there is the need for greater investment in climate science, services and the production of high quality data which, he said, is imperative for Africa.

The other strategies proposed by Lopes are improvement in institutional and policy capacity; investing in expanded South-South partnerships to help risk management; leveraging Africa’s agriculture and using tourism for Africa’s advantage and the world’s biodiversity wealth.

“Preparing for and investing in climate change is costly, But not preparing will be catastrophic and more expensive,” he warned.

Former Botswana President Festus Mogae, Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Saviour Kasukuwere and Gambia’s Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources Mass Axi Gai, will be part of the high level panellists leading the discussion later Monday on whether the opportunities from climate change can spring the continent to transformative development.