/ 8 November 2022

Pay up or shut up, say African states

African Mining Indaba

The climate crisis is a story of rich countries polluting and everyone on Earth paying the price. Because of self-interest and corrupt political systems, the pollution has not decreased, despite half a century of scientists’ warnings of catastrophe — and 28 years of international climate negotiations. 

In Paris, in 2015, about 200 countries agreed to do what they could to keep global heating to under 2°C. It has already warmed by 1.1°C, with devastating consequences for places like Pakistan, where recent floods killed 1 700 people and did $40-billion of damage. 

Large parts of Nigeria flooded last month, while Somalia is experiencing near-famine conditions. 

Paris was the product of rich countries demanding that the world’s focus be on reducing emissions. Developing countries, which pollute very little, want equal focus to be on the damage being done as the world heats — and on adapting to this heating world. This argument is labelled as “loss and damage” in climate negotiations. 

For the next two weeks, African countries and their peers working together in the G77 group of countries, plan to put pressure on rich countries to pay up. The Egyptian official who heads this round of COP has talked of restoring the “grand bargain” in which rich countries pay for the damage they have done.

In Libreville, Gabon, and Dakar, Senegal, earlier this year, African climate ministers agreed to be far more assertive in their demands. At COP27, they will demand that, at the very least, rich countries hand over the $100-billion a year they promised over a decade ago.

What they’re up against is that any demands for money to help adapt to climate change are met with accusations that this will water down efforts to reduce emissions and so ensure a more deadly future. Last month, the United Nations warned that the world’s combined effort on reducing emissions is “woefully insufficient” and heating will reach 2.4°C.

This article first appeared in The Continent, the pan-African weekly newspaper produced in partnership with the Mail & Guardian. It’s designed to be read and shared on WhatsApp. Download free copy here.