Africans from all divides – scientists, farmers, environmental activists and even presidents – are united that a global action is needed to support Africa in coping with the impact of climate change.
Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia and the African Union’s chief negotiator for the Copenhagen talks in 2009 said: “”Every one of us knows that Africa has contributed virtually nothing to global warming, but has been hit first and hardest. The fragility of our eco-system has meant that for Africans the damage of climate change is not something that could happen in the future. It is already here with us, sowing misery and death across the land. Africa is indeed paying with the misery and death of its people for the wealth and well-being that was created in the developed countries through carbon-intensive development. That is fundamentally unjust.
“But we are not here as victims nursing our wounds of injustice of the past. Africa is a continent of the future; it is destined to be a growth pole of the 21st century. We are therefore here not as victims of the past but as stakeholders of the future, reaching out across the continents, so that together we can build a better and fairer future for all of us.
“I know my proposal today will disappoint those Africans who from the point of justice have asked for full compensation of the damage done to our development prospects. My proposal dramatically scales back our expectations with regards to the level of funding, in return for more reliable funding and a seat at the table in the management of such a fund.
By this presentation at the 15th Conference of the Parties (CoP15) in 2010 in Copenhagen, Africa and the developing countries wrote off the historical carbon debt of the developed countries.
A decade after, Africa’s hopes and expectations from the Copenhagen climate negotiations have fallen “down to earth,” as global emission reduction has been losing the steam.
As the world is set for another round of climate talks at the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference scheduled to hold from 0ctober 31 in Glasgow, UK, the developed nations of the world are going ahead with burning carbon to sustain their industrial might, while threatening Africa with defunding key fossil-energy investments.
Australia vowed, in September 2021, to keep mining coal for export and said global demand was rising, rejecting a study that warned nearly all its reserves must stay in the ground to address the climate crisis.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia’s energy exports were needed to power developing countries, and predicted technology would enable them to be burned “in a much more climate-friendly way” in the future.
Coal exports brought in Aus$50 billion (US$37 billion) a year and the industry provided direct jobs for 50,000 Australians, Australian Resources Minister Keith Pitt said.
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System has billions of dollars invested in fossil fuel operations. Last year activists in the Bay Area climate justice organization Youth vs. Apocalypse launched a campaign to divest fossil fuel investments from the program. They have marched in the streets waving signs, sometimes dousing themselves in mock oil to call attention to the stakes.
This is part of a global movement fighting climate-divestment battles to essentially “defund” industries driving climate change by hitting companies where it hurts — on the stock markets and in access to loans and other financing.
A report published last December by 350.org and DivestInvest called these global divestment efforts “the fastest growing social movement in history,” which has helped steer a growing sum of money away from fossil fuel investments — from $52 billion in 2014 to more than $11 trillion last year.
Perhaps the most cautionary tale comes from Exxon Mobil Corporation, which saw itself delisted from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in August, a few weeks after the company reported a second straight quarterly loss and its stock price cratered. It was a spectacular tumble for a company that was ranked as the country’s most valuable, as recently as 2011.
In a new report by the think tank, Carbon Tracker, Mind the gap: the $1.6 trillion energy transition risk, it warns that there is “a yawning gap” between the Paris Agreement, which pledges to keep climate change well below 2°C above pre-industrial times and aims for 1.5°C, and government policies, which are consistent with 2.7°C of warming.
All of these combine to put Africa under intense pressure to abandon hydrocarbon-assets and perish or go begging. Lacking investment funding of their own, Africa’s energy-rich countries, such as Nigeria and Angola are bound to capitulate, and retreat back to their farmlands – the containment endgame of the Global North, anyway.
Africa is faced with another stultifying round of colonization – now of carbon emissions. The rest of the developed world can emit carbon, while Africa is restrained from doing so, using the levers of investment funding.