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What is Africa's objective at COP28 ?



Quel est l’objectif de l’Afrique à la COP28
To the COP28, les nations africaines aspirent à jouer un rôle équivalent dans les discussions, souvent dominées par les nations occidentales plus riches.La 28ème Conférence des Parties (COP), un événement majeur sur les changements climatiques à l’échelle mondiale, a commencé le 30 novembre dernier aux Émirats Arabes Unis. L’Afrique, confrontée à certains des effets les plus dévastateurs du réchauffement climatique, est au centre de l’attention.

The Horn of Africa region, which suffered severe drought earlier this year, is currently experiencing flooding. These extreme weather conditions are causing massive population displacements, from Somalia to Kenya.

Against this critical backdrop, the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), currently led by Zambia, will represent the continent at the COP28 talks in Dubai. Despite the fact that Africa contributes less than 5% of global emissions, it suffers disproportionately from the adverse consequences of climate change. Consequently, for African countries, tackling the impact of climate change is both an emergency and a matter of survival.

What does Africa want from Dubai?

The African Group of Negotiators (AGN), under the leadership of Chief Negotiator Ephraim Shitima, is focusing on two key issues at COP28: an equitable energy transition and climate change financing, including adaptation funding.

There is now a global consensus on the need for a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies. However, a central demand of African leaders is the continent's right to an equitable transition. African countries, most of them developing economies, are seeking to temporarily maximize their fossil fuel production to promote industrialization, before redirecting these profits to renewable energies. Their argument rests on the fact that developed countries have built their wealth by exploiting fossil fuels, and that African countries should also have the opportunity to accelerate their development by providing energy to millions of people without access to electricity on the continent, notably by exploiting natural gas, considered by some to be less polluting. At present, over 600 million Africans live without electricity, and some 900 million lack clean cooking facilities.


This approach faces significant resistance, notably from the European Union, as well as from African climate experts and activists. Some argue that all fossil fuel exploitation should be halted, arguing that there is no evidence that oil and gas-rich countries like Nigeria have reinvested their oil wealth in renewable energy or development. Others advocate a rapid transition to renewable energies such as wind and solar, fearing that a "gas rush" would leave the continent with unwanted assets.

"Both sides have valid arguments," says Faten Aggad, former climate advisor to the African Union (AU). She points out that Africa is vulnerable to fluctuations in oil prices, and acknowledges that global industry is moving towards renewable energies. Aggad refers to the EU's border carbon adjustment mechanism, which will tax imports according to their carbon footprint. However, she admits that Africa is in a tricky situation: "We're being sold the idea of renewables, but investment is minimal. Gas remains the only viable option for Africa.

Despite these controversies, AGN is proposing to COP28 that developed countries cease investment in fossil fuel projects by 2030, allowing developing countries to make up the shortfall.


Funds, funds, funds

The issue of climate financing is back in the spotlight. African countries are calling on developed nations to support them financially to build climate-resilient infrastructure and adjust to a warming terrestrial environment, for example, infrastructure such as dams for those facing serious challenges from rising sea levels.

These requests are in line with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR), which has been incorporated into numerous agreements and resolutions. This principle recognizes that, while each country must manage its share of temperature reduction, some, by virtue of their history, bear a greater responsibility and should therefore be at the forefront of solutions.


To date, financial flows for climate adaptation in Africa have been insufficient. In 2009, advanced nations pledged to provide $100 billion annually for climate action in developing countries, a pledge reaffirmed at COP26 in Glasgow. However, by 2020, only $83 billion had actually been raised each year. A report indicates that most of these funds were allocated in the form of loans, often outside Africa. Meanwhile, the continent has an estimated need of over $500 billion to finance climate change adaptation by 2030, while only around $11 billion was accessible in 2020.

Fighting for climate justice

Negotiators from the African continent have achieved notable successes at recent international conferences. After a relentless campaign lasting over thirty years and conducted in cooperation with countries from other regions, they succeeded in obtaining the creation of a fund dedicated to loss and damage at last year's summit in Egypt.

For long periods, industrialized countries resisted the establishment of this fund, which aims to compensate low-emission developing countries for the irreparable loss of life, culture and infrastructure caused by climate change, whether in Africa, Asia or elsewhere. The inclusion of this fund in the summit's final agreement is seen by many as a major step forward in the fight for climate justice.

However, the details of how these funds will materialize remain unclear, and the precise source of funding, as well as whether major polluters such as Russia and China, still classified as "developing" countries, will be required to contribute, have yet to be elucidated. A loss and damage transition committee has been tasked with presenting a draft framework in Dubai, which will define how contributions will be made and who will benefit from the fund.

What's at stake?

COP talks have often focused on rhetoric rather than concrete action, particularly on the part of developed countries who are expected to provide financial support for the climate and drastically reduce their carbon emissions. Aggad, a former AU advisor, observed that African negotiators frequently find themselves outmaneuvered by their more affluent counterparts. It has been observed that during negotiations, representatives from developed countries outnumber those from Africa and Asia.


"The African negotiating group (AGN) places too much emphasis on the COP, whereas for developed countries it's part of a global diplomacy strategy involving multiple ministries and pre-agreements that the AGN is unaware of. So by the time they get to the COP, a lot of decisions have already been made," she explained. "Africa needs to rethink its negotiating strategy. The COP is just one event among many, and it's crucial to continually promote its position on the international stage."

The stakes are high for Africa in the COP negotiations, especially if the final agreements do not take account of the continent's specific needs. According to an IPCC report, Africa is warming at a faster rate than the rest of the world, and sea levels are rising faster than the global average. What's more, progress on climate change is intrinsically linked to Africa's development objectives.

It is for this reason that African negotiators and leaders are more inclined to demand the necessary funding and influence at COP28. Marking their preparation, African leaders organized the first African Climate Summit in Nairobi in August. The resulting Nairobi Declaration called on the richest countries to honor their previous financial commitments, modify unfavorable tax regimes, lower interest rates on loans to African countries and restructure their debt.

As well as asserting their right to use natural gas as a transitional fuel, African leaders also want to position their countries as key players in climate solutions, thanks to the continent's natural resources and the manpower available to develop renewable energy infrastructures. Although Africa has 40% of the world's solar potential, it accounts for less than 1% of global installed capacity.