Why climate negotiators want new agendas in global stocktake

Ripple Effect Kenya System Officer Isaac Ogutu exhibiting regenerative agriculture technologies during the World Food Day held at Bukura farmers training centre on October 26, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Several countries are preparing documents of what they want to be included in the stock-take climate negotiations event to be held in Dubai in December.

At the event, countries and stakeholders will be taking an inventory to see whether progress is being made towards meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

And now, countries including Kenya and other developing nations are preparing documents showing the impact of climate change on different sectors like agriculture, health, gender, and biodiversity, among other sectors.

African negotiators and experts met in Nairobi last week ahead of COP 28 to scrutinise the continental agendas and to allow for smooth negotiations during the event.

“Global stocktake will help us understand where we are going. We know that we are not on target to 1.5 degrees Celcius target and will need more ambition, especially from developed countries, to reduce emissions.”

“And more so to provide support in the form of finance, technology transfers and capacity building to developing countries and the least developed,” George Wamukoya, Team Leader, African Group of Negotiators said.

Among the agendas, the continent wants to be scrutinised at the event include the impacts of climate change on health within the continent. According to Dr Waltaji Terfa Kutane, Health and Environment Officer, WHO Ethiopia, the impacts of climate change on health across the continent are increasing.

Weak infrastructure

Being a continent with weak health infrastructure, Dr Kutane said Africa might be unable to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.

“Climate-related health emergencies are on the rise in Africa, accounting for more than half of public health events recorded in the region over the past two decades.”

“Health effects are expected to be more severe for children, elderly people, poor, women and people with pre-existing medical conditions,” Dr Kutane said.

Climate change, he said, has led to the widespread of diseases that are most sensitive to climate change, including diarrhoea, vector-borne diseases like malaria, and infections associated with undernutrition that are common among children.

Although health has not been mainstreamed among priority areas in previous COP negotiations, COP 28, will for the first time, consider health issues in-depth, and now the health and climate experts say it is time that should become core to the global climate policy negotiations.

“COP 28 is a very good opportunity to advocate for health to be well addressed in climate change mitigation and adaption mechanism including financing commitment,” Kutane added.

Statistics from the World Health Organisation indicate that of 2121 public health events recorded in the African region between 2001 and 2021, 56 per cent were climate-related.

WHO also notes that there has been an increase in climate-linked emergencies, with 25 per cent more climate-related events recorded between 2011 and 2021 compared with the previous decade.

Besides experts putting in efforts to make health find ways in the main halls in the next COPs in future, experts also want the agriculture sector to be included in the global stocktake.

Agriculture, they say, is one of the most vulnerable sectors to climate change, with extreme weather events, rising temperatures, and changing precipitation patterns, causing significant losses and damage to crops, livestock, and fisheries, and threatening food security.

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