Policy experts meet in Oxford to discuss African priorities for climate negotiations

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African governments must push hard for a maximum 2˚C temperature increase ahead of next December’s climate negotiations, demonstrating their leadership by highlighting innovative regional low carbon initiatives such as Ethiopia’s new public transport system or Kenya’s climate smart agriculture, a group of experts said on Friday at a workshop.

Organised by the Global Economic Governance Programme at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government in support of the Africa Progress Panel, the workshop was a vital input into preparations for the Africa Progress Panel’s influential annual Africa Progress Report. Ahead of the Paris climate negotiations, this year’s Africa Progress Report will focus on Africa’s response to climate change, measures to improve energy efficiency and access to energy too, and on boosting agriculture.

“Africa is already suffering the first, extreme consequences of climate change and these consequences can only grow more severe with time,” Max Bankole Jarrett, Deputy Director of the Africa Progress Panel, said, referring to increasing temperature extremes and more unpredictable weather.

“So Africa needs an ambitious climate deal in Paris, but that global deal must also be equitable, effective and enforceable,” he said, after the workshop had finished.

A fair global deal for Africa requires both that the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases make the largest emission cuts, and that Africa receive the necessary financial, technical, and institutional support to deal with climate change. Africa must be compensated for loss and damage and supported to embark on a transition to low carbon power generation at its own pace, using all available energy options in an efficient manner.

Africa certainly needs this power. Some 620 million people in Africa live without access to electricity, and Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where population growth exceeds the growth of access to modern sources of energy. Meanwhile, African businesses pay some of the world’s highest prices for electricity.

Fortunately, the continent has vast untapped potential for renewable energy. African economies can enjoy a “latecomer’s advantage”, benefitting from a growing global base of knowledge to support their low-carbon growth paths, participants at the workshop said.

And in the run up to Paris, African negotiators must coordinate their negotiating positions, working through negotiation blocs such as the Africa Group and LDC Group, to develop clear and targeted goals, workshop participants said.

“Climate change is not only an existential crisis for humanity, but a very, very serious and immediate threat to Africa – and indeed to the world –  if Africa can get a deal that is ambitious, equitable and viable, then the Paris negotiations could also offer opportunity to managing it effectively,” Mr Jarrett said.

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