Let’s just agree, Africa is a special case
OPINION | By Lynet Otieno | September 25th 2021
Amid the many negotiations at the last United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (Cop25) was a push for the world to consider Africa a special case that needs immense support to implement its various nationally determined goals and make its people resilient to climate change.
This, the Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN), then chaired by Ambassador Mohamed Nasr (Egypt), argued, was because the continent was the least contributor to the global Green House Gas (GHG) emission (four per cent).
The CoP25 was held in Madrid, Spain, in December 2019. During its first week, mudslides were killing people in Kenya’s West Pokot. There were other places in the country and the rest of Africa that equally suffered extreme weather. Cyclones Idai and Kenneth messed the south. In Sudan and West Africa, flooding left many homeless.
The AGN even cited scientific reports by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, indicating more threats and how unprepared governments were to handle natural calamities, having spent at least 2 per cent of their GDP in managing climate crisis. Africa lost this fight. The CoP25 was considered in several post-event reviews as one that did not yield much for Africa.
Fast forward to CoP26, which was to take place in Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 but was pushed to 2021 when Covid-19 struck, we are back to that same argument. Isn’t Africa a special case? There are not less than 20 African countries on the UK’s Red List, whose nationals will have to be quarantined before they get to the CoP26 venue whether vaccinated and Covid negative.
It is also clear which nationals won’t go through so much to make it to the CoP26 venue. They are those from developed nations, the biggest emitters, and some who have donated vaccines to Africa.
The UK had said CoP26 would be a turning point, as 2020 marked the beginning of Decade of Climate Action. But how, when the most vulnerable are going to arrive at the CoP26 venue disgruntled, and feeling less important or respected? Will their voices be heard?
One may also ask; why quarantine people for days, when there will also be random tests at the conference every day? Who will bear the cost of food and other needs for the extra days some people will be quarantined, even though the UK has promised Visa and accommodation cost waivers?
Africa should maintain the special status push. It is because of this special status that Africa has a conglomeration of Covid-19 jabs. You cannot compare the percentage of those vaccinated in Africa with those in developed nations. Africa is choking in debts from developed nations, yet it is not enough to help save masses from effects of climate change. There is no vaccine equity, at least for now.
Sadly, the worst affected by the climate change are also the majority on this UK Red List.
Efforts for poor nations to make it to the CoPs so they can also be heard may just be hampered through these Covid effects.
Africa continues to suffer problems it did not create, like Covid-19 and climate change.
Lynet is a Quality Assurance Editor at Standard Group.
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