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Can COP27 Bring Africa Meaningful Change?

FILE - Homes are surrounded by floodwaters in Sohbat Pur city, a district of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, Aug. 29, 2022.

Analysts say wealthy nations attending the ongoing COP27 in Egypt are struggling to approve Africa’s long-sought request for climate reparations as it reels under the climate crisis.  

Africa contributes less than 4% of global carbon emissions but is the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

Basil Karimba, CEO of the Green City Kigali Company, is attending COP27 in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik.

"Climate change does not know any border," Karimba told VOA, adding that he regrets calls for climate justice are being ignored.

"Wealthy nations need to pay for whatever impact we’ve suffered from the damage done by climate change. Loss and damage is a valid claim, and the west needs to comply," he said, lamenting that "they’re not really coming to the table to agree."

The continent is experiencing some of the worst natural disasters in over a decade.

Droughts in East Africa have sparked famine in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. In West Africa, countries like Nigeria have recently been hit by devastating floods, leading to the destruction of food production while forcing thousands out of their homes.

In southern Africa, cyclones have caused massive damage affecting thousands of locals in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar.

Saliem Fakir, executive director at the African Climate Foundation, told VOA that the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference has "brought stronger attention to Africa," which will help "hold advanced economies accountable."

"It’s clear that many advanced economies are seeking to find ways to avoid this becoming a politically hot potato," he said, speaking about climate reparations for African countries.

"I don’t think it’s feasible to depend on [foreign] funds. Although we will need initial climate financing, we have to restructure our economies to make them capable of dealing with the shocks of climate change," Fakir said.

Although calls for climate reparations are laudable, Karimba said, African states must also begin to undertake domestic projects to tackle the effects of the climate crisis.

"The [Rwandan] government is offering lands to deliver green sustainable affordable housing across the country with support from the German Development Corporation. Initiatives like these would send a clear message that Africa is serious," he said.

The summit's spotlight on the continent should prove beneficial, Fakir said, and help nations "recognize that Africa will need more than the $100 billion pledge" — referring to the promise made in Copenhagen 13 years ago to help developing countries tackle climate change by 2020. It will also help leaders realize "the importance of energy transition in Africa."

The gathering in Egypt is the fifth time an African nation is hosting the U.N. climate summit, joining South Africa, Kenya and Morocco — which has hosted twice.