Morocco climate change conference sheds bright light on Africa

Governments meeting in Morocco are expected to produce action plans on how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement to slow global warming and one of them is the need to develop Africa, a continent that continues to pay the price for the industries of developed nations. In Paris, they spoke about the need to electrify African countries among other actions but this conference is expected to show how they will do that despite the funding and technical challenges behind implementation.

MARRAKESH, MOROCCO (NOVEMBER 8, 2016) (REUTERS) – Representatives from almost 200 nations have assembled in Marrakesh, Morocco for the 22nd edition of the climate change Conference of the Parties 22 which has been dubbed “Africa’s COP”.

President of last year’s COP21 and French Environment Minister, Ségolène Royal said that the time has come for climate justice for Africa.

“In particular climate justice for Africa. That is the big challenge ahead of COP22. COP22 is an African COP. That is where our priorities lie. That is where our hopes lie,” said Royal.

COP22 is considered a continuation of the Paris Agreement, which won swift backing last December from almost 200 countries including China, the United States and the European Union and has been described as the most complex global treaty since the Marrakesh (trade) Agreement, signed in 1994.

It seeks to wean the world economy off fossil fuels in the second half of the century, limiting the rise in average world temperatures to “well below” 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

Negotiators, this year, will also be trying to find ways to raise finances to help developing nations cut their rising emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Moroccan Minister of Environment, Hakima Al Haite said that the conference has to act on the pledges made in Paris.

“I hope that Africa will benefit of this COP. First we have made many pledges in Paris. Many parties and countries make announcements in Paris. Like the 10 billion (US) dollar to electrify Africa. Here we need to know. What happens since Paris agreement? Did we effectively implement the project of allocate this money. We need to know that we are moving to help Africa and all the vulnerable countries,” said Al Haite.

Nations in Africa find it hard to attract investors to green projects, part of global efforts to limit climate change and more floods, heat waves and droughts that are a big threat to Africa.

“I think that in this COP the world and the developed world should demonstrate its solidarity to all the most vulnerable countries especially for Africa,” said Al Haite.

The immediate challenge for negotiators this year is that, by law, countries that have ratified the deal must start agreeing the rules to implement it at the next U.N. climate conference.

The Morocco meeting is due to start writing a detailed “rule book” for the Paris Agreement, likely to take two years, and find ways to act.

The key issues that the meeting is aiming to tackle for the continent include agriculture, food security, energy, water and health.

Some members of the private sector and NGO’s, however, say that finance remains the key issue for Africa.

“I think what is good to do is to have the little companies in Africa. Because what we’ve seen is international companies who come in Africa country and say ‘we are coming here to help you’ but we are already in place so what we want is international institution that can help small companies to grow up, to have the knowledge to improve and have access to high financement,” said co-founder of a solar energy start-up David Achi.

An African Pavilion has been set up at the conference to help connect NGO’s, Banks, activists and civil societies together.

Climate Governance Expert at UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), James Murombedzi said that many issues are on the table for Africa at the conference.

“For Africa there is limited finance available to enable African economies to implement their commitments to the agreements. We hope by debating these issues in the pavilion we can address the financing question. There is also the question of capacity. Very limited capacities in many fields in climate change in Africa and we think that in Morocco we can begin to address issues around technology, transfer support for capacity building as well as ensuring that accurate financing is made available to Africa,” he said.

The Pavilion is expected to serve as a space to hold debates, exchange ideas and information while also discussing strategies.

“The discussions in these meetings are focusing on the key issues around the implementation of the Paris agreement but in addition to the formal debates the pavilion is also an emotional space where Africa can actually come together outside of the formal arrangements, exchange ideas, exchange information and also discuss strategies on how to engage in the COP itself,” added Murombedzi.

The conference is set to continue for two weeks and will host a high level meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expected to attend.