News & Media / Webinar recap: What does Africa expect from COP28?

Webinar recap: What does Africa expect from COP28?

21 November, 2023

On Friday, 3 November, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) organised a webinar called What does Africa expect from COP28? This webinar discussed the main priorities and expectations of the African people from COP28. We heard three perspectives from a Policy Advisor specialising in Climate Loss and Damage, a youth advocate and a sustainable Energy Specialist.

The session commenced with a warm welcome from Tracy Kituyi, MIF's assistant intern and NGN lead, introducing the esteemed panellists: Lina Ahmed, a Policy Advisor specialising in Climate Loss and Damage at Germanwatch; Michael Kakande, the Chairperson of The Resilient40; and Sandile Mtetwa, Sustainable Energy Specialist, Next Generation Foresight Practitioner and Research Associate at Integrated Africa Power.

Tracy set the stage by providing a comprehensive background from MIF's upcoming report, African Road to COP 28, and prior work. Africa, the continent most affected by climate change, struggles with rising temperatures, making it the most vulnerable to droughts and the second-most vulnerable to floods.

World regions: drought events (01/2010-09/2023)

World regions: flood events (01/2010-09/2023)

Notably, Africa, responsible for a mere 2.8% of global fossil fuel emissions between 1850 and 2021, is the least culpable. In contrast, OECD countries Russia and China collectively account for over three-quarters of historic fossil fuel emissions. Even today, Africa's territorial emissions from fossil fuels in 2021 stand at just 4.0%. The disparity is glaring, with the average person in North America or Oceania emitting over ten times that of the average person in Africa.

Africa's vulnerability is not only linked to the frequency of climate disasters but also stems from its limited capacity to respond and adapt due to lower economic development levels. 13 of the 20 most climate-vulnerable countries are among the 20 poorest in terms of GDP per capita, emphasising the intersection of climate challenges and economic hardship.

Furthermore, nine of the ten countries with the highest historic fossil fuel emissions are among the current top ten largest economies.

The assertion is clear: the world cannot achieve sustainability without Africa. The continent possesses abundant green and blue assets and critical transition minerals crucial for steering the world towards the 1.5°C target.

Climate finance commitments from the global North to Africa

During the African Climate Summit, the Nairobi Declaration was signed with a pledge to increase the energy capacity from 56GW to 300GW of renewable energy generation by 2030. However, achieving this target would require an estimated six hundred billion dollars, a considerable amount considering that Africa currently receives less than 10% of it. Sandile pointed out the crucial role of financial resources in addressing climate challenges, highlighting the current deficit in climate finance commitments from the global north to Africa.

The discussion touched on debt relief schemes, favourable loan terms, and de-risking investments as essential strategies to attract private investors. Sandile underscored the importance of improving public-private partnerships, multilateral support, and community engagement for effective climate risk management. The conversation then delved into renewable power generation technologies, identifying hydropower and solar as primary contenders while addressing concerns about their vulnerability to climate change impacts. The emphasis on decentralisation through micro and mini-grids was highlighted for enhanced effectiveness and economic viability.

Tracy acknowledged the importance of the finance discussion, particularly the exploration of carbon credits and the potential impact of a global carbon tax.

Issue of loss and damage

Following the line of climate finance, Lina emphasised the issues of the loss and damage fund. How much finance is going to be available for loss and damage? She explained the multiple advocacy and arguments going on for over 30 years. This year had many ups and downs, considering that the Transitional Committee had different meetings to produce recommendations to operationalise the fund based on justice, and historic responsibility, guided by the Paris Agreement principles of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities, and polluters' pay. Lina also raised the issue that it was proposed that the World Bank hosts the fund; this raised concerns about who can access the fund, dependence, and the high fees that the World Bank would charge.

Can vulnerable communities on the ground access this money? It also opened the door for which countries are eligible for this fund. One of the debates is that developed countries were arguing that it should only be open for least developed countries and small island states, which would leave countries like Libya or South Africa out of this equation.

The focus should be shifted from this hostile thinking to ensuring access to vulnerable communities wherever they are. Vulnerability to climate impacts, not economic status, must be the criteria.
~ Lina 

Climate change, finance, and young people's involvement in Africa

Representing the youth viewpoint, Michael emphasises that addressing Africa's energy and job creation concerns requires broad participation in decision-making processes, particularly for young people. Michael also highlights the strategic role of critical minerals in facilitating a seamless transition toward clean energy. While acknowledging their significance, he remains vigilant about potential pitfalls, cautioning against relying solely on solutions such as carbon credits.

Michael, representing the youth perspective, stressed the significance of finance and inclusive participation in decision-making processes. He also highlighted the potential of critical African minerals for a just transition and the urgency of addressing climate-induced migration drivers.

Michael highlights the need for independent funding sources to help communities and youth by exploring Africa's potential in the clean energy space. This approach aims to ensure the sustainability and autonomy of clean energy initiatives.

Furthermore, Michael stresses the pressing nature of addressing climate-induced migration and advocates for directing funds towards comprehending the underlying drivers of migration rather than merely reacting to its immediate consequences.

The panel collectively advocated for good governance, transparency, and accountability in power generation projects, emphasising Africa's role in addressing climate challenges and emerging as a climate champion. In summary, the webinar provided a comprehensive overview of the key expectations from COP28, encompassing finance, technology, governance, and the pivotal role of the African continent in addressing global climate challenges. The discussions underscored the urgency of immediate and concrete steps to address African climate issues.

Sign up to enews