Africa’s leaders need to be vocal on climate urgency – Ban Ki-moon

Climate vulnerable nations need to take leadership role or face severe impacts says UN chief

Ban greets AUC Chairperson Dr Dlamini Zuma at the 2014 summit (Pic: African Union/flickr)

Ban greets AUC Chairperson Dr Dlamini Zuma at the 2014 summit (Pic: African Union/flickr)

By Ed King

Africa’s 54 heads of state need to become more vocal on the urgency of addressing climate change, says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Addressing leaders at an African Union Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on Friday Ban said they owed it to their populations who are likely to suffer from rising global temperatures.

“African leaders, you need to raise your voices, if not African leaders, than who?” Ban said.

“Because African countries have least contributed to climate change and yet at the same time, they are the most and the worst affected.”

The UN chief said unless world leaders arrived at his New York Climate Change Summit in September with “ambitious national targets and ambitious goals” the world would be in “serious danger”.

Countries are currently working towards a global climate change deal, set to be signed off at a UN conference in Paris late next year.

Africa only contributes 4% of greenhouse gas emissions, with developed countries and emerging economies likely to have to make the toughest greenhouse gas emissions cuts for any agreement to work.

Scientists say unless emissions peak by the end of this decade, the world is likely to experience dangerous levels of warming up to 3.5-4C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century.

A UN climate science study published earlier this year warned in Africa, the biggest risk is to crop production, risks described as “very high” with or without adaptation with 4 degrees warming, and “medium” for 2 degrees with adaptation.

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Adaptations included crop breeding and finance for smallholders to invest in fertilisers or irrigation.

The lack of funding for climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries is a contentious issue with many African states, who were promised billions of climate aid in 2009.

According to a 2013 briefing paper produced by the Overseas Development Institute, delivery has been well below levels needed, with the majority of funds heading to South Africa.

A new UN-backed Green Climate Fund could help change that situation, but it has just launched and will not be operational till early 2015.

Ban said a ‘clean trillion’ in low carbon investment will be needed between now and 2050, calling for an expended green bond market and more private sector support.

“Unfortunately, most countries in the continent do not have the capacity, financially or technologically, to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

He added: “Our top priority must be to start mobilizing the additional investments needed to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius and promote low-carbon, climate resilient development.”

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