By PATRICK VERKOOIJEN
This month’s annual United Nations climate meetings in Egypt were a breakthrough for the developing world. Participants decided for the first time to establish a “loss and damage fund” to compensate poor nations for the damages caused by global warming.
The notion that industrialised nations should compensate developing nations for the situation they created is not new. In 1991, the tiny island nation of Vanuatu initially proposed such a plan. As global destruction has intensified, however, so has the demand for climate compensation.
Climate change is destroying the lives of an increasing number of people. According to the Status and Trends in Adaptation in Africa 2022 report, 52 million Africans, or four per cent of the continent’s population, have been severely affected by drought or flooding during the past two years. After four failed rainy seasons, 37 million people in the Horn of Africa face hunger today.
When massive monsoon rains earlier this year, a third of Pakistan, an area larger than Uganda, was submerged and 500,000 people were rendered homeless. Island nations such as the Maldives and Vanuatu are in risk of extinction due to the melting of polar ice caps, which causes rising sea levels. Their demands for climate justice are urgent and incontestable.
Nonetheless, recompense is insufficient. A loss and damage fund is vital, but it is not the only solution. As stated by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, climate justice should involve both the delivery of the $100 billion per year in climate money promised to develop nations in 2009 and the doubling of climate adaptation financing.
Adapting to climate change should be Africa’s number one priority. The damage caused by climate change is already occurring and will continue to worsen. Second, because strengthening resilience and responding to climate change would accelerate the growth of African economies. Investment in technology will generate employment opportunities for young people. It will deliver long-term remedies as opposed to quick fixes for successive climatic catastrophes. Therefore, if nations are adequately prepared for climate change, future claims for losses and damages will be reduced.
Extensive and efficient adaption
Widespread and successful adaptation makes a country like Kenya less susceptible to climate shocks, decreases poverty, and creates new chances for economic growth. In spite of well-articulated measures to combat climate change, Kenya’s agriculture, water, tourism, and wildlife are currently threatened by global warming. The annual cost of climate-related disasters ranges from 2% to 2.8% of the country’s gross domestic product, severely impeding economic progress. Now, Kenya spends approximately Ksh243 billion ($2.4 billion) per year on climate action. This is a monumental effort for a developing nation.
Yet, this is only one-third of what is required to mitigate the effects of global warming. Yet research indicates that the majority of climate finance is invested in renewable energy. Undoubtedly, reducing carbon emissions is vital, but this does not address the critical need for agriculture, forestry, transportation, and water management to adapt to climate change.
Filling the financing void
Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) predicts that countries must invest an additional $41 billion per year to adequately adapt to climate change.
This is nearly four times the $11.4 billion allocated to adaptation programmes in 2019-20. This necessitates that African nations become more adept at accessing climate finance and develop a considerably more robust portfolio of climate-adaptation projects eligible for investment. The Global Centre on Adaptation and African Development Bank have launched the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme (AAAP) as a bold initiative to increase resilience and close the funding gap. It is supported by the African Union and aims to raise $25 billion by 2025 for climate adaptation on the continent.
Under the AAAP Upstream Finance Facility, the GCA aids African countries and financing institutions by delivering the greatest knowledge, science, and solutions for adaptation projects on the ground.
In Kenya, GCA collaborates with the University of Nairobi to develop adaptation solutions for the transport, energy, information technology, and water infrastructure sectors.
Develop local expertise
The focus is not just on the design of climate-resilient infrastructure, but also on the development of partnerships that will enhance local expertise, boost trade, stimulate economic growth, and create employment opportunities for young people.
In addition, the GCA collaborates with Senegalese financial institutions to mobilise $1 billion in global climate finance for investments in food security, resilient infrastructure, employment, and entrepreneurship. In Côte d’Ivoire, the GCA is assisting the government in identifying adaption projects that could be financed by a forthcoming Sustainable Sovereign Bond offering.
Africa is the continent most affected by global warming. It is also where effective large-scale climate adaptation has the greatest potential to save lives and transform lives. But now is the moment to act. As stated by President William Ruto, “Africa can lead the world” in terms of climate action.