Climate conference reps urge African countries to step up

African countries need to revise their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which could affect the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change; it was stated at the Sixth Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA-VI) that took place this week at the Economic Commission for Africa. The INDCs refer to pledges countries put forward last year stating their plans to alleviate climate change.

The Paris Agreement, when implemented aims to limit the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue more ambitious efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in this century.

According to the Economic Commission for Africa’s Chief Economist and Deputy Executive Secretary, Abdalla Hamdok, the Paris Agreement will only make a big impact once implemented if the INDCs become legally binding.

“The significance of the Paris Agreement coming into force lies in the fact that the INDCs, which are the foundation of the Agreement, become legally binding as Nationally Determined Commitments,” Hamdok said.

He further pointed out that there are still a number of challenges with the INDCs submission of many developing countries such as vagueness in their mitigation ambitions and adaptation aspirations, lack of cost estimates for achieving their adaptation and mitigation goals, absence of clarity on sources of funding and absence of up to date national GHGs emissions records.

“There is therefore an urgent need for African countries to review and revise their INDCs with a view of addressing the above issues and increasing their levels of ambition, where appropriate, in order to ensure meaningful and realistic African contribution to the implementation of the Agreement,” Hamdok stated.

It was also stated that the task of reviewing, although very necessary, will not be easy to do because of complexities of access to adequate and reliable data, mainstreaming climate into national development imperatives, ensuring coherence between climate change goals and the various sectoral goals and objectives, and securing adequate funding for the process.

“When it comes to financing, we are not just depending on external finance; we are and continue to mobilize domestic resources as well. Yes, we will require financing from outside, especially from big economies that are the largest contributors to climate change, but African countries will also work on mobilizing domestic financing,” Girmawit Haile, an Advisor to Minister of Environment, Forest Development and Climate Change Dr. Shiferaw Teklemariam stated.

Implementation of the Paris Agreement has significant implications for Africa as the continent that will be most severely impacted by the adverse impacts of weather variability and climate change. The continent is already experiencing climate-induced impacts, such as frequent and prolonged droughts and floods, as well as environmental degradation that make livelihoods difficult for rural and urban communities