By Wallace Mawire
More than 70 world leaders met at a virtual Climate Ambition Summit hosted by the UK Government where nations including from the African continent were called upon to bring new plans for tackling the climate crisis.
With climate breakdown continuing to rage around the world this year, including in Africa with devastating locust swarms driven by climate change, this meeting is a crucial opportunity for countries to put the world on a safe path by cutting their greenhouse gas emissions and offering support for the most vulnerable.
Mohamed Adow,Director of Nairobi-based climate and energy think tank, Power Shift Africa said it was particularly pleasing to see 10 African leaders invited to take part, demonstrating how Africa is showing global green leadership on the most critical issues for African lives and prosperity. The 10 African countries are the DRC, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
He said, “As an African I was proud to see leaders from my continent being part of the solution to this global problem and sharing an international platform with other heads of state from around the world. It shows the progress made by some African countries that they are now at the top table when it comes to climate leadership.
“Africa has a huge part to play in the fight to stop climate change. We have endless sources of clean energy, from wind and solar to geothermal and hydro. As Africa uses these non-polluting forms of energy to power our development we can show the rest of the world that we don’t need to foul our air and distort our climate to bring prosperity. By leapfrogging the old fossil fuel energy of the past, we can accelerate our development and prevent further damage to our climate. Africa is especially vulnerable to hotter temperatures, droughts, storms and locusts swarms so it’s in our own interest to be at the forefront of this global energy transition. We now need to see more African countries stepping up and joining the top table of international climate leaders.”
Adow added that this virtual summit was a crucial part of the Paris climate agreement, which celebrates its 5th anniversary this weekend. He said: “This ambition summit is vital if we want to inject some momentum into climate action as we head into 2021. Currently the pledges that make up the Paris Agreement leave us with a world of 3 degrees of global heating, a fate which would be catastrophic. But the Paris Agreement was designed to be a dynamic accord which called on countries to strengthen national plans every five years so we can bend that global heating curve downwards to achieve the 1.5C goal contained within the agreement. This summit is the first example of this ‘ratchet’ mechanism in action and so we need to see countries stepping up with radical actions which fit the urgent crisis we face.
“But it cannot just be emissions reductions. The Paris Agreement also requires richer nations to provide financial support for those countries which are bearing the brunt of climate change but have done almost nothing to cause it. They need support to adapt to the floods, droughts and storms that are destroying their lives and livelihoods. They also need help to leapfrog fossil fuels and move to renewables which would be a win win for everyone.”