‘Vulnerable groups forgotten in climate change debate’

posted in: Africa

Photo: Reuters


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia- Ahead of next month’s UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland, the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) has expressed concern that the conditions of vulnerable groups are often forgotten in the midst of the debate, as discussions focus on semantics, markets, rights and other issues.

Coordinator of the Addi Ababa-based ACPC of the UN Economic Commission for Africa Fatima Denton said this Monday at the opening of the Third Annual Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA-III) taking place in the Ethiopian capital.

Denton warned that as the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw approaches, the space for Africa to resolve its problems is dwindling and the pace of negotiations is costing Africa’s farmers, pastoralists and fishers their opportunity for a responsible chance of arriving at stable sustainable livelihoods.

“CCDA gives us a unique opportunity to elongate the policy space, to share experiences through practical solutions,” she said.

The three-day conference is being held under the theme “Africa on the Rise: Can Opportunities from climate change spring the continent to transformative development?”

Denton said the conference is neither about failure nor about philosophizing on missed opportunities, but rather about looking at climate change as an investment opportunity.

“Africa is indeed on the rise, and our rise against the negative impacts of climate change will be even more formidable if we act now, and if we act with resolve and vision of our leaders, civil society, vulnerable groups and friends and partners of Africa in saying that together we will,” she said.

Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission of Africa Carlos Lopes, who also addressed the conference, expressed regret that 21 years after the establishment of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), global emissions have risen and major emitters are still not legally bound to reduce their emissions at the scale required to avoid irreversible climate change.

He said, instead, those directly causing 80 percent of global emissions are reversing the tide by rejecting the notion of an ecological debt.

“The amount Africa receives for adaptation is negligible, in average less than 2 percent of the total. Economic development has not been at the forefront of climate change negotiations and a ‘loss and damage’ account never been agreed. Is this compatible with the Africa we want,” Lopes questioned.

He said next month’s Climate Change Conference presents an opportunity for the continent’s voices to influence the debate and demand, for instance, that research on ‘loss and damage’ from climate change-related disasters be funded.

The conference is seeking to explore various options for mainstreaming best policy practice, informed by empirical and scientific assessments, to build strategies to respond to the impact of climate change.

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