President Samia Suluhu may have stirred the hornets when she told African nations point-blank to end the dependency syndrome and start up their own form of climate financing.
The Tanzanian leader, speaking during an East Africa Community panel on climate and food security a few days ago, was categorical that a special fund will hasten action and avert exponential costs of climate shocks.
In her estimation, Africa can, on its own small way, power its green growth and decarbonisation targets. The continent, as per recent estimates by environmental thinktanks, needs $182 billion by 2035 for climate adaptation alone.
President Suluhu is neither a puppet nor a fan of twisted versions of pan-Africanism. Like her Zambia counterpart Hakainde Hichilema who recently politely ‘lectured’ G20 leaders to restructure their financial architecture to ensure affordable capital, she is a realist par excellence.
But in a continent besieged by monumental leadership crisis, her call will only but amount to the proverbial croaking of a frog that never prevents a cow from drinking from the well. Already, most African leaders have signaled that a dig at the West over unfulfilled funding pledges would go forward at the ongoing COP28 in Dubai, UAE.
Sadly, though, the quality of contributions we can expect from the African leadership at the COP is a no-brainer. Great ideas have historically ended up being lost in the din of blame game targeting the US and Europe, all in the name of ‘the west are agents of blackmail, and we are being discriminated and talked down upon.’
Observers rightly say what Africa lacks is self-drive. In Dubai, let’s prove seriousness to fight global warming through the quality of our input, starting with our nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Populism will isolate us from crucial global dispensations.
Granted, Africa, however susceptible, has what it takes to make a difference its own fashion. At COP28, leaders of the Global South and negotiators must make a case for the vulnerable communities and give the climate war the necessary political oomph. Hubris and the begging bowl should give the talks a break.
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Suluhu’s call must be supported to the hilt. If only opulence, conflict, graft and bad governance can be contained, Africa need not wait for ‘manna’ from above to fight global warming. Estimates say some 90 per cent of the continent’s resources is lost to pilferage. In Kenya, corruption eats up nearly Sh2 billion daily. This is awful and unwarranted.
It’s time to rethink the future. There’s no more denying that combating climate change and its effects is an age-old challenge, and perhaps the greatest headache facing mankind. At any rate, it has come with renewed risks.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that by mid-century, a billion people will face water shortage and hunger. In Africa, 600 million are at risk. Experts fear that drought, famine and poverty will widen social strains, leading to a potential for involuntary migration, breakdown of communities, political instability and armed conflict as battle for resources rages.
African leaders must now wake up to the challenge. President William Ruto is right when he argues that Africa could kick out 300 million tonnes of CO2 with nature-based solutions annually. The continent has between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of minerals on which the green energy transition depends. Let see action.
Much as COP28 must yield just solutions, let’s not bear the tag of beggars with no social or diplomatic dignity. No need to carry huge delegations who contribute nil to the agenda then wait to condemn an alleged patronising attitude by other players.
Importantly, we must not to blame climate change and lack of funding for our leaders’ policy gaffes. It is a self-defeatist approach that could lead corrective measures astray. Let the Dubai talks not be an avenue for power games and sideshows. Fingers crossed!
The writer is a communications practitioner. X: @markoloo