Upcoming COP27 must move beyond promises

When former President Uhuru Kenyatta planted a tree at the COP26 at Kew Gardens in London in 2021. [PCS] 

Next month, Sharm El-Sheikh, the Egyptian resort town between desert of the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea, will host the 27th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27).

This comes amid unmet climate financing promises and a faltering leadership on steep emission cuts as a build up to the net zero targets by 2050. “We now have a much clearer understanding of the extent of the potential climate crisis and what needs to be done to address it effectively,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi says ahead of the summit.

Some 4 billion people in vulnerable nations are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis. The urgency to reduce the CO2 emissions to help poor nations deal with the effects is increasing. However, they are only attracting a fraction of funds they need to build resilience. The yearly $100 million promise made years ago remains just that. Africa shares little blame - as it emits less than 3 per cent of the world’s emissions – but suffers the most as worst emitters waver on their commitment to deal with this existential threat.

At the Africa Adaptation Summit in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, the biggest emitters were a no show. African leaders led by Senegalese President and African Union (AU) Chairperson Macky Sall and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi were appalled. “I cannot fail to note with a touch of bitterness the absence of leaders of the industrialised world,” observed Sall.

They had met to plead for funds to help African countries adapt to global warming. Only the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte showed up. A three-day summit in Egypt closed with 24 African ministers urging the developed world to stay true to their promises. At the UN General Assembly, President William Ruto implored the world to walk the talk noting that whereas there was consensus to act urgently, there was “little progress made in respect of the needful actions.”

The centrepiece of the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Plan by the AU is jobs, raised incomes and improvement of living standards. Some $1.3 trillion is required over the next 20 years for climate adaptation and mitigation.

Elsewhere, Yvon Chouinard, the billionaire founder of the outdoor fashion brand, Patagonia in California, US will donate millions of dollars in profits not reinvested in the business to climate change causes.

Prof Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University and president of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network notes, “…The United States has emitted 25 per cent of carbon-dioxide emissions… yet with other major historical emitters have offered nothing in compensation for damages they are causing.”

Kenya ranked 31st most vulnerable country to climate change, accounts for only one per cent of global emissions.

A report by the Landscape of Climate Finance in Kenya published in March last year says the country received Sh243 billion climate related investments way below the over Sh800 billion required for adaptation. The International Finance Corporation estimates that Kenya has an $8.5 billion climate investment opportunity between now and 2030.

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority is reviewing its regulatory process including easing licensing procedures to facilitate renewable energy investments.

In fiscal year 2022, the World Bank Group reports that its lending for climate-related investments reached 36 per cent or $31.7 billion targeting African countries and others in the developing world – exceeding its target of 35 per cent as outlined in the 2021-2025 Action Plan. At COP27, the World Bank will launch “a new multi-partner fund that seeks to catalyse transformative climate action.”

The writer is senior account director and client services lead at Apex Porter Novelli