This week, as 100 world leaders gather to attend the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, a call on rich countries to urgently step up aid to help Africa recover. the double challenge of the climate catastrophe and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is required. .
With the widely successful vaccination campaign in most rich countries and the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan, the need to help Africa cope with the effects of Covid-19 and embark on a path of recovery a green and climate-resilient economy could take a back seat. the global leadership program.
Recently, due to the unprecedented flooding in Western countries including Spain, Germany and the United States, rich countries are beginning to realize the devastating effects of climate change and the need to take action. emergency response to the loss and damage caused by climate change in their territories.
However, Africa, small island states and many poor countries around the world have long lived with the debilitating effects of climate change. Ironically, most of these effects have not been fully appreciated by rich countries, which themselves are largely responsible for climate change.
Dangerously epic proportions
Climate change in Africa has exceeded dangerously epic proportions. Nigeria, for example, has been the scene of intense and unprecedented flooding over the past five years. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reports that in September of last year alone, torrential rains, river flooding and flash floods affected 192,594 people in 22 states in Nigeria (including 826 injured, 155 deaths and 24,134 displacements). Little, if any, of this information was reported by international news agencies.
It is estimated that 27 to 53 million people in Nigeria may have to relocate with a 50cm rise in sea level. Rising sea levels also threaten other low lying countries in Africa, research suggests that cities like Abidjan, Cape Town and Dar es Salaam will be totally submerged by an overall sea level rise of one meter. At the same time, the oil and diamond infrastructure of African coastal countries, worth several billion dollars, is highly sensitive to sea level rise and coastal erosion.
Climate change is also causing a decrease in the productivity of many staple food crops in Africa. About 86% of the continent’s agriculture is rainfed, implying that even moderate variations in precipitation, temperature and rainfall patterns could have an immediate effect on agricultural production. Analysts determine that climate change will reduce crop productivity by 20 to 50 percent over the next two to three decades. Again, the anticipated loss amounts to billions of dollars and the situation is sure to exacerbate food insecurity and other dimensions of insecurity in Africa.
According to recent preliminary estimates, the full economic effects of climate change, which have been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, could cost Africa $ 200 billion a year by 2070. The real figure may well be beyond. For example, a study by the UK Department for International Development indicated that climate change alone could cost Nigeria $ 460 billion by 2050.
Climate change and Covid-19
The effects of climate change in Africa have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the case fatality rates from Covid-19 have not been as high as originally feared, the social and economic impact of the pandemic in Africa has been devastating and potentially long lasting. African economies were growing around 3% of GDP before Covid-19, but are now expected to drop to between 2% and 8% due to the pandemic.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) indicates that the continent’s economy will contract between 173.1 and 236.7 billion dollars in 2020/2021. The region is also expected to experience inflation of up to 5%, alongside a dramatic drop in remittances and foreign direct investment in 2021 and beyond. The same AfDB sources indicate that up to 30 million jobs could be lost and that between 28 and 49 million people could fall into extreme poverty.
The climate and Covid-19 have indeed placed Africa at the center of a storm and many governments have no idea how to recover from the worst recession that has hit them in more than a half. century. Many African countries have been pushed to the limit in terms of financial and socio-economic resilience. The debt profile of many countries on the continent has increased dramatically and, in some cases, to levels that are widely considered unsustainable. Seen in this light, we can see that climate change and Covid-19 have put future African generations in debt to rich countries.
Rich countries must take responsibility
African citizens and governments are harmed by being forced to endure the disproportionate effects of Covid-19 and climate change, neither of which they caused. In less than three days, the average American citizen emits as much carbon as the average citizen of Chad or Niger in a year. This is the enormous asymmetry in accountability for climate change. Yet the West has grown accustomed to offering warm words and promises, as our continent is strangled by climate change.
At the same time, the global transition to a green economy could also worsen Africa’s situation, with several million jobs lost and trillions of oil and gas reserves that will have to be left in the ground for respond to global reductions in carbon emissions.
Given the role of rich countries in imposing the risk of climate change and Covid-19 on Africa, there is an argument to be made that 50% of the projected $ 200 billion cost of climate change for the Africa should be supported by the rich countries. This would imply that rich countries owe Africa at least $ 100 billion for climate-related loss and damage and several billion to help jumpstart recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
At a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in 1967, Maltese and Swedish diplomat Arvid Pardo helped lay the groundwork for international cooperation and management of the world’s seas today; in his historic speech, he urged delegates to consider the resources of the oceans beyond national jurisdictions as “the common heritage of humanity”.
This week Africa needs another “Arvid Pardo moment” at the UN General Assembly. Assembly delegates are expected to rise to reaffirm that climate change is a common concern of humanity and that Africa deserves, not handouts, but generous compensation and significant investments to help it cope. the effects of climate change imposed on it by rich countries.
At the same time, the UN should commit to ensuring that the voices of those disproportionately suffering from the effects of climate change are not marginalized during the upcoming UN COP26 climate talks in November. There are already strong indications that unequal access to vaccines, rising travel and accommodation costs, as well as high rates of Covid-19 infection could limit the participation of African countries, among others, in global climate talks.
Africa is already showing climate ambition
Of course, Africa does not sit back and wait for the rest of the world to bail it out. Across the continent, there are many signs that African governments are ready to take strong action on climate change. Nigeria recently submitted its revised Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which promise a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Several other countries, including The Gambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Namibia and Liberia also submitted NDC revisions.
Nigeria has raised over $ 60 million in green bonds; The country has also strengthened its emissions targets for 2030, with a focus on reducing emissions from the waste sectors and increasing conditional contributions. Malawi and South Africa have developed a fund to finance green growth projects, and Rwanda has created an $ 11 billion 10-year climate plan, among others.
However, Africa has received very limited financial support for its climate recovery efforts beyond warm words; this is particularly infuriating when African countries are asked to sacrifice their development aspirations to help meet global carbon goals.
A new green deal for Africa worth billions is needed to encourage its countries to leave their oil in the ground and embrace green agriculture, renewables and green transport, all of which can deliver solid benefits economic to the continent. There have been far too many warm words: the UN General Assembly is set to mark a key moment for action, with substantial commitments made by rich countries to deliver investments that will foster a green and resilient recovery to change climate for Africa.