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SPEECH BY PACJA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MITHIKA MWENDA AT THE AFRICAN ROUND TABLE ON THE UNFCCC COP25 REFLECTIONS

Ladies and Gentlemen,
A time has come for us to face the truth about this climate crisis.
Last year, two weeks of incessant negotiations at the UNFCCC’s COP25 that took place in Madrid, Spain at the close of 2019 resulted in several outcomes that are very key to Africa and its people.

The conference attended by at least 27,000 delegates aimed to highlight the gap between progress in the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement and the goals individual signatory nations set towards the same. It was this that informed the massive protest march in the Madrid streets.
The meeting was also meant to emphasize to the world how critical climate action was, and that it was time the gap between goals and the milestones so far was bridged.
The event was big, but the outcomes quite a disappointment, especially for Africa, the sufferer of some of the worst climate change induced calamities, to which it has contributed the least.

The silence by the World’s biggest emitters of the greenhouse gases on possible plans to contribute towards an enhanced adaptation, mitigation or financing climate action is worrying for Africa.
The COP25 failed to deliver ambitious decisions that reflect the special circumstances and needs of Africa based on the unfolding climate crisis. Besides failure by the big shots to make further commitments for the sake of addressing the climate crisis, there also lacked transparency or genuineness during the talks. All this was to the disadvantage of the poor African nations.

Consideration of Africa as a special need case was an issue that did not need any debating because, truth be told, the continent is a special case when it comes to climate crisis. But even with intense lobbying and persuasion, things remained the same.

This is to say that Africa is on her own on matters of climate crisis. It is to say that nobody bothers if we live or die, with the climate-induced irregular rain patterns messing our land and leading to crop failure in so many cases. This is to say, in short, that other countries marvel at the sight of Africa begging for food, its children and livestock dying as they walk long distances trying to look for food, pasture and water, and that it matters not if our economies collapse because heavy rains, mudslides, floods and cyclones mess our roads as well as social and other amenities.

It does not matter to anyone if our children miss school, are displaced and forced to live in church compounds, suffer malnutrition or are left behind as the world advances in technology and knowledge.

But for how long shall we be beggars in our own homes?

That UN Secretary General Antonio Guteress expressed disappointment at the COP25 outcomes is not enough to show what lack of the cooperation by noticeable figures meant for the African continent. The truth is, things are bad. Yet the climate crisis won’t wait for us to resolve these ego issues and pick up later. The truth is, the floods, famine, climate induced conflict and migration, poor infrastructure, stunted economic growths besides so many other harm will continue to bedevil us, worse in Africa. The pain remains: We are suffering for the sins committed by our bigger brothers, who are too busy peeing on us, and on the same soil from which we seek to get food.
And so, what can we do, as the African Union Summit congregates here in Addis Ababa guided by theme: “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa's Development”?

We must not keep quiet. We must retell our story in any and all languages, whenever and wherever. We must not shy away from telling the world what we need for mitigation and adaptation to this climate crisis.
Remember the climate crisis has a direct link to the many guns whose sounds rent the air in Africa. We shall continue to hear several gunshots if we do not make it possible for our people to access food, potable water and adequate pasture. They will walk long distances in search of the basic and as such trespass. They shall fight because of poverty, simply because we did not act in good time. Today, the world is running away from the killer coronavirus, but we are walking in forests of desert locusts that are soon exposing us to a serious food shortage. This, despite information about the invasive locusts coming in good time from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.
It boils down to one thing: Our governments are not that equipped to handle, synthesize or quickly lay down mechanisms to address such climate-induced threats. Sometimes there is just no capacity to do the right thing.

Why then would someone still put a powerless Africa through hell by just abandoning any good idea that would lead to our social, health and economic growth?
These same countries fighting for Africa’s failure have led the way in messing our environments through disastrous mining and other acts.

I would like to encourage all African nations that green economic pathway is the best way to go. Let’s protect our environment from abuse by miners of coal and direct them to the unexploited safer and cleaner sources of energy in wind, solar, hydroelectric and geothermal. No more coal powered projects should be allowed on African soil because we do not want stranded assets. We want our biodiversity safe, whole and alive.

The countries now busy funding such projects in Africa are abandoning the same in their backyards. Time has come for us to ask the likes of China and the US, under its climate insensitive President Dnarld Trump: Why Africa?

Let us work on the policies that will enable the wellbeing of the African people. Push for the policies that will ensure the right knowledge is imparted to the people to ensure preparedness for disaster and development of adaptive infrastructure for the sake of minimising deaths when disasters strike.
I also appeal for CSOs to work with governments and ensure maximum access to green climate fund to enable capacity building and ensure maximum addressing of the climate crisis.

This is the only world we know. A few years from now, history will judge us harshly if we do not do the right thing for the generations to come. Being in the CSOs to do this climate job is a calling, and we must answer with the right actions, and not create death traps for our children in the name of growing our economies.

May God Bless Africa!

Mithika Mwenda,
Executive Director,
PACJA

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At COP 25, African CSOs Demand Ambitious Decisions that Reflect Africa’s Special Circumstances and Needs and is Commensurate with Climate Crisis

Madrid, 3rd Dec. 2019--African civil society organizations (CSOs) representing more than 40 counties, under Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), are demanding r an accelerated process and ambitious decisions at UNFCCC COP25. The decisions should reflect Africa as a region with special needs and circumstances. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report shows that if the current trajectory continues, Africa will warm 1.5 times more than the global mean average temperature; with parts of Africa already experiencing 2ºC-warming, way higher than the indicated 1.5º C. Parties should, therefore, take a decision recognizing these special circumstances and needs for Africa that go with the urgent need for finance, emergency response and technology development.

Africa civil society therefore specifically demands the following:

1.    Enhanced Emission Reduction through Ambitious NDCs that reflect Climate Crisis
Call for immediate enhanced efforts in greenhouse gas emission reductions as per the best available science. Developed country Parties should use the obligation of reviewing the NDCs in 2020 to ambitiously enhance their mitigation commitments to reach the required target of reducing half of the current emission levels by 2030 to cap global average warming at 1.5º C as stipulated in the recently published UNEP Emission Gap Report 2019.  Further stress that the NDCs should include all elements and not just mitigation-centric and have a five years’ timeframe that is aligned with the global stock-take.

2.    Fulfil previous and scale-up new Climate Finance Commitments to fund adaptation
Africa civil society reiterates that adaptation financing remains a priority for African countries. Developed country Parties shall provide enhanced, predictable, adequate and grant-based climate finance to developing country Parties to adapt to adverse climate change impacts. Currently, adaptation is only taking a quarter of global climate finance from developed to developing countries while mitigation taking over 60 percent. African CSOs emphasize the urgency of a reliable source of finance for the Adaptation Fund, which will provide decent financial resources and be sustainable. Also, maintain the current number and composition of the Fund Board taking into account fair and balanced representation among identified groups.

Further emphasize that the process to initiate setting of a new collective quantified climate finance goal from a floor of USD 100 billion per year in 2020 to consider the needs and priorities of developing countries, be science-informed and draw lessons from the experience of pre-2020 commitments. Developed country Parties should continue to fulfil their pre-2020 climate finance commitment of USD 100 billion per year during the period.

3.    Urgent Review, Financing and Implementation of the Loss and Damage Mechanism
The Africa civil society stresses the urgency to develop a clear means of implementation and operationalize the Warsaw International Mechanism on loss and damage. This include financing for ongoing and incurred loss and damage, and adequate financing to implement the work plan of the Warsaw International Mechanism for loss and damage Executive Committee. Loss and damage represents an outstanding economic and political challenge and a great concern; therefore, there is urgent need to avert, minimize and address these impacts through comprehensive risk management approaches – early warning systems, measures to enhance recovery and rehabilitation and build back and forward better, social protection instruments, including social safety nets, and transformational approaches.

4.    Develop robust social and environmental guidelines for all International Corporations and carbon market mechanisms in respect to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement
African civil society organizations call for robust social and environmental guidelines for all carbon market mechanisms to ensure that they do not create or lead to adverse conditions that impact the livelihoods of African local communities or prevent the communities from becoming climate resilient. Parties must advance the human rights guidelines from the element to promote sustainable development and ensure environmental integrity and transparency. This should be done in line with the Paris Agreement’s preamble that states all climate actions shall, inter alia, respect and promote human rights – the right to health, gender equality and women’s empowerment, indigenous people and development.

5.    Actions to Implement the Gender Action Plan
The Africa civil society calls upon Parties to take action to implement the activities under the Gender Action Plan in order to strengthen consideration of gender aspects in climate-related activities. African women and young people are most at risk from impacts of extreme weather. We need to be fully aware of traditional roles women and men, and recognize that women are impacted most by climate change yet they are usually underrepresented in climate change negotiations and decision making. Therefore, there should be allocation of adequate financial and human resources to build the needed capacity on gender dimensions of climate policy and action at national level and to comply with the requirements on gender under the Paris Agreement implementation guidelines.

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Africa urged to use home-grown experts to set feasible NDC goals

Africa has a long way to go in the realisation of the strategies to implement the Paris Agreement, according to preliminary results of a research done by a Pan-African organisation in eight African countries, and which were yesterday released on the side lines of the COP25.

This was the statement made by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) Executive Director Mithika Mwenda at the opening of a side event in Madrid, Spain.
Salina Cheserem Sanou, a climate justice campaigner, shared the preliminary findings of the research done in Botswana, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia, at a side event dubbed “Africa Readying for the Paris Agreement”.

Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria were found to be at the same level on “Coherence Between Sector Policies and Climate Compatible Development” with each scoring 2.4 out of a maximum possible 3.0. Zambia came fourth with 2.2, followed by Tanzania at 2.0 and Corte d’ Voire at 1.4. Botswana and Gabon tied at the bottom with 1.0 points.
On climate-sensitive sector policies, the African economies tested were found to align differently with adaptation, mitigation and development; while the food and agriculture sector development policies were framed as development policies, scoring “high alignment”.

Sustainability with development, the forest and wildlife policies were set up as mitigation policies, scoring “limited alignment” with adaptation, and “partial alignment” with development.
“Africa is a unique and a special needs and circumstances region in terms of vulnerability, resilience and capacity building; finance, and also monitoring and reporting of international commitments,” said Ms Sanou.
The research recommends better alignment of sector policies with adaptation, the need to address lacking inter-agency and inter-ministerial approaches, and strengthening of partnerships among stakeholders in support of climate change initiatives.
Speaker after speaker addressing the side event at the COP25 conference in Madrid, yesterday, pushed for more home-made plans and strategies in the achievement of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), whose implementation is key in achievement of the Paris Agreement.
The NDCs outline interventions each nation intends to use to reduce carbon emission. “Africa should have tailor-made tools for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the Paris Agreement and NDCs,” said Sanou, adding that African nations should not wait until March 2020 to start reviews of the NDCs, to prevent rushing over them as happened with the initial development process.
James Murombedzi, a senior climate governance expert at the UN Economic Commission for Africa, regretted that African countries were spending up to 9 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on the NDCs, yet that was not catered for in their national budgets. “This is causing a budget crisis in many African nations,” said Dr Murombezi.

The NDCs have further been viewed as overly ambitious. “Financing must be made available for the conditional and overly ambitious NDCs to be actualised. Yet financing has not been forthcoming from the heavy carbon emitters, calling for proper review and meaningful resource mobilisation for the global goal to keep temperature rise below 1.5ºC to be realised,” said Charles Mwangi, a climate enthusiast and observer at the COP25.
The push now is for heavy emitters to increase their ambition.

Many countries are behind schedule in the achievement of the pre-2020 strategies that focussed on finance, capacity building and technology transfer. These were supposed to enable start of implementation after June next year, but this period will instead focus on review of the NDCs.
The Paris Agreement outlined and expects preparation, communication and maintenance of successive NDCs to meet set objectives.

This year’s UNEP Emission Gap Report 2019 shows that with the current commitments, there will be an increase of more than 3.2ºC of average global temperature rise.
Speaking at the side event yesterday, Charles Mutai, a Director Climate Change, State Department of Environment, and who is also the chair of the Kenyan delegation in Madrid, outlined the country’s effort to achieve its NDCs commitments. Dr Mutai said devolution in Kenya would make it easier to achieve the NDCs, as many of the 47 counties had allocated between 1 per cent and 3 per cent to tackling the climate crisis.

Roger Nkodo Dang, the President of the Pan African Parliament, focused on energy. “We are being discouraged from exploiting petroleum and transition to clean energy; but at what cost to our development,” he posed.
This also raised the question on the seriousness with which African Governments and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) crying foul now, handle matters that have huge ramifications in their operations. “Africans left the formulation (of NDCs) work to politicians. We do not read,” said Prof Dr Muaiwia Shaddad of Sudan
He was, however, countered by Mithika Mwenda, who insisted that the ills some African nations may have done should not stop pursuit of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. “The push must go on,” Mithika said.

“Many African countries are behind in implementation of their NDCs because they are a result of consultants’ work… consultants who have no clue what the reality on the ground is. Governments must remember we have adequate capacity for proposal and other document writing in Africa,” said Mwanahamisi Singano of FEMNET, an African women's development network.

Charles Tanui, an observer at the COP25, called for support of civil society organisation to be involved in research and formulation of key strategies, especially during review of the NDCs.
The side event was organised by Kenya, Ivory Coast and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance.

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