In retrospect the much hailed Paris Agreement did not benefit Africa, but the big economy Annex 1 countries who managed to evade their legally binding obligations to the most vulnerable counties under the 1992 UN convention.
In previous COPs Africa had called for lower warming limit 0f 1.5°C together with other developing, Caribbean nations and small island nations
It was only through the 2009 Copenhagen Accord that it was agreed to consider 1.5C as the limit, after African leaders had called 2C a suicide pact.
However, this position was not adopted as the Paris Agreement limit was a limit far 2C below as possible striving towards 1.5C .
Challenges like in-coherency and disharmony among the Africa group of negotiators notwithstanding, previous outcomes have least favored Africa.
At the 2015 Paris COP Caribbean states and small island nations at Cancun COP 16 fought for a lower limit of 1.5°C; this was backed by several least developed countries- this constituted over 70% of the parties to the Convention. Scientists have also opposed a 2 degree warming target and what is ‘acceptable’ and ‘dangerous’ varies across regions.
Africa ministerial Conference- AMCEN submission to UNFCCC COP 21 called for a limit of 1.5°C, reliable funding, technology transfer, limiting emissions to below 1.5°C.
‘‘Stressing Africa's vulnerability to the effects of climate change, in particular the adverse effects on ecosystems, food production, and social and economic development, Ministers agreed to support an agreement in 2015 that provides parity between mitigation and adaptation ? noting the increased burden for adaptation in developing countries. They indicated the agreement needs to ensure that the mitigation ambition keeps global temperatures well below 1.5°C from pre-industrial levels, by the end of the century.’’ (UNEP 2015).
The Paris Climate agreement under COP21 of the UNFCCC was pivotal for Africa survival and sustainable development. Realizing the theme ‘Our Common Future’ international power politics ought to show leadership in dealing with climate change in 21st century by robust greenhouse gas emissions cut considering the most vulnerable and most at risk. Climate change costs cuts across all generations, stratus, economies and ecosystems. Yet the most vulnerable are in developing countries, endemic ecosystems and species. For small island nations the 0.5°C warming under climate change could mean the line between survival and submergence under ocean rise. For countries with strong economic muscles, higher latitudes and strong adaptation networks the 0.5°C difference may not be a heavy burden to bear. Over half coral reefs might be lost with disproportional impacts across continents ranging from food and nutrition insecurity, loss of livelihood, poverty, to loss as aesthetic value and GDP.
The Paris COP 21 climate change summit ought to have paved way for the voice of the poor and vulnerable in the spirit of social justice. Varying interests have hindered tangible climate change negotiation outcomes over the last Conference of parties under the UNFCCC. Profit driven interest by multilateral corporations have often invisibly influenced international agreements and outcomes as these rich corporations often manipulate governments and international politics.
Climate change related deaths have increased in frequency and magnitude owing to occurrence of disasters like heat waves that have claimed roads, infrastructure and loss of human life in some continents. Economic activities disrupted, more than 2000 human deaths from heat waves calls for drastic action on climate change.
The richest 10 percent of the world’s population is responsible for about 50% percent of historical emissions. Social justice requires than nations responsible for historical emissions carry greater burden in providing adaptation and mitigation costs for the developing nations who constitute most vulnerable and greatest victims of climate change related disasters. It’s not just food security, ecosystems, coastal cities and droughts/floods at risk of climate change threats; agro-economic production in Africa is at great risk from climate change as coffee production in East Africa highlands like Tanzania and Kenya dwindle with increasing temperatures. Economy-wide losses lowering GDP puts entire Africa economy at highest risk from climate change. Hence it’s not just a moral failure that climate change talks previously yielded results undesirable for Africa but it should be considered a matter of human rights violation.
Africa is predicted to experience higher than global average warming of 2°C; this would mean the continents experiences higher warming compared to other regions as a result of climate change. This has catastrophic impacts on the continent which is already struggling with effects of 0.85° warming. With low resilience and limited adaptation capacity the continent survival is threatened by climate change and a Paris 2015 agreement holds the promise of hope for the entire of Africa nations and island nations as well.
Atmosphere is a global common (UNEP). Climate change has no private cost. Greenhouse emissions transcends nations sovereignty and the impacts cut across the globe. Actions of a single huge carbon emitting nations has profound impacts on global climate change across the entire continent. Without global commitment of all nations cutting greenhouse gasses by some individual nations remain a zero game whereby emissions cuts are topped up by the other. Paris 2015 climate change agreement need to be clear and legally binding for the parties to the convention. Apart from INDC’s and robust measuring and reporting, international law and policy on greenhouse emissions need to be developed just like the law on hazardous transportation and waste management.
Stakes were high at Paris 2015 climate change negotiations. Developing nations hoped for a legally binding agreement, financial commitment from developed nations on adaptation and mitigation, setting a new target of 1.5°C warming instead of the popular 2°C. international climate change policy has lagged behind in terms of responding and providing mechanisms to deal adequately with climate change. Same case on illegal wildlife trade and other international environmental matters have often been challenged by inadequate international policy measures.
Noting the responsibility of the international community on safeguarding the environment while ensuring sustainable development; taking heed to the scientific warning on climate change and inaction or delayed action the Paris 2015 climate climate conference held lots of hope for developing nations, small island nations, unique species and coral reefs ecosystems globally.