COP28 President-Designate participates in African climate and environment ministerial meeting

COP28 President-Designate participates in African climate and environment ministerial meeting

ADDIS ABABA, 17th August, 2023 (WAM) -- Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and COP 28 President-Designate, has visited Ethiopia to speak at the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), during which he emphasised the urgent need to increase climate finance to African countries to allow them to seize the opportunity of a zero-carbon, climate resilient future.

He also highlighted his four-point Action Plan for COP28 to fast track the energy transition, fix international climate finance, focus on people’s lives and livelihoods and underpin everything with full inclusivity.

ACMEN is a meeting of environment Ministers from across Africa. It is a key forum for the African Union’s policymaking on climate change, providing political guidance and coordinating common African positions for regional and global summits, such as COP28. Dr. Al Jaber’s participation in the AMCEN summit was an important moment to mobilise African leaders ahead of COP28, and prepare the ground for strong outcomes on finance, adaptation, and loss and damage.

Dr. Al Jaber began by noting that urgent action was needed to put the world back on track to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and keeping the ambition of 1.5 within reach.

“With just over 100 days before the world gathers in Dubai for COP28, both the science and common sense are telling us that our collective response to climate change is nowhere near good enough.”

In his remarks, Dr. Al Jaber emphasised Africa’s position as one of the hardest hit regions by climate-related extreme weather events, from the Horn of Africa to Lake Chad and beyond. He said, "From Pakistan to Hawaii, we have seen too many lives and livelihoods devasted. Yet, Africa has been facing extreme climate conditions with greater impacts for longer than most.”

“Here in the Horn of Africa, rains have not fallen for over four seasons, with 23 million people now facing severe hunger across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Lake Chad, once the lifeblood for millions of people in Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, has shrunk to one tenth of its size. And continuous flooding has ruined crops and spread vector borne diseases across Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia and Rwanda.”

In recognising African governments’ climate initiatives, Dr. Al Jaber highlighted the efforts of the meeting’s host, Ethiopia, to address climate change. On mitigation, he noted, “here in Ethiopia, almost 100 per cent of the country’s energy comes from renewable hydro power.” On adaptation, he continued “Ethiopia is just one country that is leading the way with its Green Legacy Initiative (GLI). Since 2019 the GLI has planted over 25 billion seedlings, enhanced sustainable agriculture, strengthened food security, exported healthy food to foreign markets and created almost 1 million new green jobs along the way.”

However, Dr. Sultan noted that the “chronic lack of available, accessible and affordable climate finance” is a “major obstacle” standing in the way of further progress on climate action.

He continued "Currently, barely one tenth of global climate finance finds its way to Africa. According to the African Development Bank, almost 250 billion dollars annually is needed to meet Africa’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) commitments through 2030. Yet, this continent of 54 countries that contributes less than 5 per cent of global emissions, receives less than 30 billion a year. And private finance flows to Africa are a fraction of what is disbursed to the rest of the world. These are the realities. They need to be fixed. And they need to be fixed now."

During his remarks, Dr. Al Jaber announced that the COP28 Presidency will co-host with the UK Government a Climate and Development Ministerial meeting at Pre-COP focused on the delivery of adaptation finance for climate-vulnerable countries, and that the meeting would be co-chaired by Malawi and Vanuatu.

Discussing the COP28 Action Agenda’s plan to fix climate finance, Dr. Al Jaber noted that the plan had been informed by his listening and engagement tour with people from around the world, especially from Africa.

He reiterated the COP28 Presidency’s call for the international community to deliver on historic pledges. This included the developed world’s commitment of $100 billion in annual climate financing for the developing world, the doubling of adaptation finance by 2050, and the replenishment of the Green Climate fund. He also stressed the need for the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage fund and funding arrangements and early commitment of pledges.

Dr. Al Jaber also discussed the key recommendations that came out of the Presidency’s recent meeting of the Independent High Level Expert Group (IHLEG) on how to modernize the entire global financial architecture. He noted that International Financial Institutions and Multilateral Development banks “were built for the second half of the last century. They urgently need to be upgraded to meet the needs of this one.”

“Concessional funds must be expanded to lower risk and attract more private capital. New, innovative mechanisms to manage currency risk must be created, adopted and promoted. Climate resilient debt clauses should be universally applied to countries already suffering from high debt burdens. And public and private sectors must partner more closely to build a pipeline of bankable, commercial projects.”

Dr. Al Jaber also reiterated the need to “address the huge disparity between mitigation and adaptation finance. Today, for every nine dollars that goes towards mitigation, only one dollar is available for adaptation.”
Dr. Al Jaber highlighted the COP28 Presidency’s Action Agenda and its plan to “put nature, people and health at the core of the climate agenda, and firmly link climate action with socio-economic development.” Dr. Al Jaber emphasised the particular need to “prioritize the transformation of food systems, promote responsible land use and target food insecurity. No home in the world should face hunger, including the 140 Africans facing food insecurity today. And by leveraging agri-tech and sustainable farming methods, we can greatly reduce food insecurity, as well as the carbon emissions that come from food production.”

During the summit, Dr. Al Jaber met with several African leaders in a series of bilateral meetings. This included meetings with Alioune Ndoye, Minister of Environment, Development and Ecological Transition for Senegal, Barbra Creecy, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs for South Africa, Roselinda Soipan Tuya, Minister of Environment Climate Change and Forestry for Kenya, and Collins Nzovu, Minister of Green Economy and Environment for Zambia.

Dr. Al Jaber also met with youth representatives and a delegate from the International Youth Climate Programme to discuss priorities ahead of COP28. On the agenda were issues such as adaptation, climate finance, and addressing loss and damage.