Empowering Africa: Unveiling The Significance Of COP28 For Every African In The Fight Against Climate Change

Worldwide, we all grapple with a shared challenge: climate change. In Africa, it’s high time we grasp our unique role in the fight.

In Dubai, world leaders are converging for crucial talks on the pressing global climate crisis. With COP28 on the horizon, this year takes the spotlight in debates on slashing greenhouse gas emissions, navigating a fair shift to a net-zero global economy, and assigning accountability. Why should Africa care? Because despite our minimal contribution to emissions, we bear the brunt of global warming’s impact, making this a matter of utmost importance. 

Over the past year, Africa has sweltered under record-breaking temperatures, sparking wildfires in Algeria and Tunisia and unleashing the worst drought on the Horn of Africa—hitting Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia hard. Southern and eastern regions, on the other hand, grappled with the havoc wreaked by storms and floods. From tropical cyclones to rising sea levels, climate change is taking a direct toll on food security, water access, public health, and economic stability across the continent. The reality of climate change in Africa unfolds before us, demanding urgent action. To tackle these catastrophes, we must first safeguard the very system that governs them—nature.

What makes COP even more relevant this year?

So, what makes COP28 significant? The Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change. It emphasizes the need for countries to limit global warming, enhance resilience, and support developing nations in their climate actions. This year, it is the very first global stocktake. The global stocktake serves as a crucial mechanism for assessing the progress made in combating climate change. As part of the Paris Agreement, nations agreed to review and enhance their climate commitments every five years. COP26, held in 2021, emphasized the importance of increasing ambition to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In COP28, the Global Stocktake will allow nations to evaluate the efforts made so far and identify areas where further action is needed.

As the Mother Continent, there is still hope for a better tomorrow

Despite all that there is to be concerned about, Africa continues to demonstrate optimism and a firm commitment to combating climate change. From conserving water to sustainable electricity generation, countless Africans have come up with innovative and clever solutions to the impacts of climate change and the deterioration of the environment on the continent. Solutions ranging from a scale as small as the Kenyan hairstylist who created affordable, environmentally friendly, biodegradable hair extensions as an alternative synthetic hair extensions which are harmful to the environment. To as big as Future Ecosystems for Africa, a programme operating in various African countries, designed to explore a multitude of ways to maintain the ecosystems across Africa. Dr Laura Pereira, Associate professor at the Wits Global Change Institute says, “The Future Ecosystems for Africa project provides an excellent opportunity to work on addressing real change across the continent that draws on diverse knowledge systems to orient towards more preferable futures”

There are organizations and institutions who have made it their mission to combat these disasters. Dr Duncan MacFadyen, Head of Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation, understands that our biggest obstacles continue to be financial. The economic feasibility of these solutions is what stands in our way. Understanding our barriers is the first step to ensuring a positive force towards change in the environment. Renewable energy technologies have grown from a niche industry to an essential solution for the provision of electricity to millions of unconnected people across the globe. This growth has been led by advances in technology and obviously the need for cleaner energy generation sources. Financing is critical in implementing sustainable renewable energy solutions, which will in turn accelerate the supply of electricity in Africa and encourage economic development.

As nations and organisations converge at COP28, it is paramount to prioritize equitable solutions, financial support and technology transfer to ensure Africa’s active participation in combating climate change. Through collaborative efforts and the implementation of sound policies, Africa can reduce vulnerability, safeguard its natural resources and improve the livelihoods of African people while contributing to a more sustainable future.

For Africa to reap the maximum benefits from COP28, we need:

  1. Advocate Fairness: Ensure that discussions address the disproportionate impact of climate change on Africa. Push for fair and just solutions that consider historical contributions to emissions.
  2. Financial Support: Secure commitments for substantial financial aid to help African nations adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. This can include funding for sustainable infrastructure, technology transfer, and capacity building.
  3. Capacity Building: Emphasize the importance of building local capacity to deal with climate-related challenges. This includes training and education programs to empower communities to adapt and innovate.
  4. Policy Alignment: Encourage the alignment of global climate policies with the specific needs and circumstances of African nations. Tailored solutions can address unique challenges and promote sustainable development.
  5. Voice and Representation: Ensure that Africa has a strong and influential voice in the negotiations. Advocate for increased representation and participation to make certain that decisions made at COP28 reflect the diverse needs of the continent.

About Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation

The Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation team continue to build a first-class research entity which partners with national and international researchers to conduct cutting-edge research focused on the natural sciences ensuring practical and impactful outcomes. They are committed to further developing, expanding, and promoting the growth of sustainable conservation programmes and networks throughout the African continent.

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