The UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt continues. After the first week of negotiations with mixed results for developing countries, the second week promises to be crucial. Delegates from different countries around the world will discuss sensitive issues, including financial aid from Western countries to countries most vulnerable to climate change. Assistance deemed too weak and unsuitable. Commitments already made are not necessarily kept. Tension is mounting over this.
African leaders stressed the need for their Western counterparts to increase their commitment to addressing the impact of climate change on Africa.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, in his op-ed in The Washington Post titled “How Not to Talk With Africa About Climate Change,” blasted what he described as Western hypocrisy of developed countries failing to meet their commitments, especially to the promised $100 billion fund for climate change adaptation and mitigation in the developing world “for the mess their own industries are making.”
He laments the reluctance of Western countries to make politically difficult decisions that hurt domestically.
“Instead, they move the problem offshore, essentially dictating that the developing world must swallow the pill too bitter for their own voters’ palates. “
According to the Nigerian leader, the starting point for all negotiations at this year’s COP should be to recognize that “Africa has not caused the mess, but we are paying the price”.
The President said Western development had triggered a climate catastrophe in Africa. Part of his country was overwhelmed by severe flooding, which affected 34 of Nigeria’s 36 states and displaced 1.4 million people.
Buhari also referred to the disaster caused by climate change in the Horn of Africa, namely drought-related famine, wildfires in the north and intensification of cyclones in the south.
He recalled that rich countries should devote a greater share of funding to the adaptation of developing countries to the effects of climate change.
He lamented that most funding currently goes to mitigation projects, such as renewable energy projects, which reduce emissions.
But “Africa urgently needs investments in adaptive infrastructure – such as flood prevention systems – to avert disasters that destroy communities and cripple economies,” he noted.
He says Western countries can no longer tell Africa how to use its resources.
“Don’t tell Africa that the world cannot afford the climate cost of its hydrocarbons — and then fire up coal stations whenever Europe feels an energy pinch. Don’t tell the poorest in the world that their marginal energy use will break the carbon budget — only to sign off on new domestic permits for oil and gas exploration. It gives the impression your citizens have more of a right to energy than Africans”, said the Nigerian head of state in his editorial to the American newspaper.
While the effects of climate change affect the entire planet and do not spare rich countries (floods in Germany, fires in Europe and the United States, etc.), poor or developing countries are all the more affected that they are more exposed to change, less well prepared, deprived of the financial capacity to recover on their own.
Moreover, developing nations contribute much less to global warming than their wealthy counterparts. Yet, it is evident that they are the most affected by it: 80% of emissions come from the twenty most developed countries.