As the world converges in Dubai for the 28th Conference of the Parties, it's crucial to recognise Africa's unique position in the global climate conversation.

Far from being just a victim of climate change, Africa is a key contributor to climate solutions.

Home to an abundance of natural resources critical for green technologies, Africa is a linchpin in the global transition to cleaner, sustainable energy. The continent produces over 70% of the world’s cobalt, essential for electric-vehicle batteries, and significant portions of other green minerals like manganese, bauxite, and copper. These resources place Africa at the forefront of enabling the green revolution, making it not just a participant but a leader in the global effort to combat climate change.   Moreover, the Congo Basin, often hailed as the planet's second lungs, plays a vital role in carbon sequestration. With its dense vegetation, it sequesters more carbon per square kilometer than the Amazon, underscoring Africa's critical role in global environmental health.

Noeline Raondry Rakotoarisoa Director of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme

The recent African Climate Summit and the resulting Nairobi Declaration have set the stage for CoP28. This declaration calls for a global carbon tax, the acceleration of the continent's energy transition, and significant financial commitments to green energy. It serves as Africa's common position, emphasizing the need for concrete action and financial reforms to support climate adaptation and the development of green energies. This united stand is a testament to Africa's commitment to not only addressing the impacts of climate change but also leveraging its unique resources and potential to offer solutions.

Spotlight on Key Issues for Africa at CoP28

At the COP28 climate summit, we, the members of the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa (JENA) and advocates within the faith community, call for us to reflect deeply on our responsibilities and the opportunities this event presents. COP28 is not just a diplomatic congregation; it is a moral compass pointing towards our shared duty to protect and nurture our planet. This summit is a testament to the power of collective action and the urgent need to address the existential threat of climate change, particularly its disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable, including our brothers and sisters in Africa.

1. Global Stocktake: Accountability for Climate Action

COP28 is a pivotal moment in climate action history, marking the conclusion of the UN's first-ever "Global Stocktake" to assess global progress in addressing the climate crisis. The synthesis report indicates that the world is significantly off track from its goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The response of leaders from countries, companies, cities, and financial institutions to the Global Stocktake is crucial. This response will shape efforts to address climate change and its impacts, highlighting the need for increased action and commitment.

2. Focus Areas: Fossil Fuels, Food Systems, and Resilience  

Shifting Away from Fossil Fuels: The transition to sustainable energy is urgent. The world needs to reduce emissions by 43% below 2019 levels by 2030 to mitigate severe climate impacts. However, current national plans only project a 7% reduction. COP28 is an opportunity for governments to commit to tripling renewable energy capacity, moving investments from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and increasing the share of electric vehicles and public transit.

Transforming Food and Land Use Systems: The transformation of food systems is critical. With over 800 million people facing hunger and agriculture contributing to climate change, national leaders must commit to reducing agricultural emissions, halving food waste, and shifting to lower-carbon diets. These commitments are expected to be part of a Food Systems Declaration at COP28.

Advancing Adaptation and Addressing Loss and Damage:COP28 must address the adaptation needs of communities facing climate shocks and provide finance for those unable to adapt to severe climate impacts. Developed nations are called to operationalize the Loss & Damage Fund and increase finance for adaptation, ensuring local communities are empowered in these efforts.

3. Inclusion of Cities in Climate Action

Urban areas, accounting for about 70% of global CO2 emissions, must be central to climate action. COP28 presents an opportunity to strengthen the alignment between local and national governments, with a focus on net-zero emissions, public transit, energy-efficient buildings, and sustainable land use. The summit will feature events like the Local Climate Action Summit and the Transport-Energy Ministerial, emphasizing the importance of urban areas in climate action.

4. Following Through on Past Pledges

COP28 is not just about setting new goals but also about assessing progress on previous commitments. This includes cooperative initiatives like the Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership, increased ambition in national climate plans, and fulfilling the financial pledges made by developed nations to support developing countries in their climate efforts.

5. Africa’s Concerns and Roles

African nations, despite contributing minimally to global emissions, face disproportionate impacts from climate change. Key concerns for Africa at COP28 include:

Climate Finance: African countries will press for the fulfillment of the $100 billion per year climate finance pledge by richer nations, essential for adaptation and resilience projects.

Oil and Gas Production: Many African economies rely on these industries, leading to debates about the pace of fossil fuel phase-out and the role of gas as a transition fuel.

Food Security: Climate shocks are exacerbating hunger, and African leaders will seek support for enhancing agricultural resilience and productivity.

Loss and Damage Funding: With Africa facing climate-induced losses, COP28 is seen as crucial for establishing a formal funding structure for loss and damage.

In conclusion, as we stand at the cusp of COP28, our role as advocates for justice and stewards of creation takes on renewed significance. This summit offers a critical platform to voice the concerns of those less heard, to hold nations accountable for their climate commitments, and to forge a path towards a more sustainable and equitable future. As members of JENA, we bring the perspectives of faith, justice, and compassion to the forefront of these discussions. Let us unite in this endeavor, guided by our collective conscience and commitment to a world that respects the dignity of all creation.

Visit JENA's website for more updates

Related Articles