Protesters representing some two hundred civil society organizations from around the world are staging demonstrations at the COP27 venue in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, calling for climate justice.
Painting disturbing images of the harm a changing climate has caused to communities around the world, they are calling on developed countries to live up to their climate funding pledges and to stop funding fossil fuels.
Killian Ngala reports from Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
“Reparations Now!” reads one placard. “Stop support for fossil fuels,” reads another. “Rich countries meet your finance obligations now!” reads yet a third.
The protesters, representing over 200 civil society organizations around the world are demanding justice for the environmental damage caused by climate change in their communities.
“In October, 34 out of 36 states in Nigeria were flooded.” says Nigerian environmental activist, Luky Abeng.
“We recorded 630 deaths in fewer than three weeks,” he said, noting that over 1.3 million people have been displaced and 200,000 homes swept away.
Across the globe, intense droughts, storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and warming oceans are causing untold suffering to individuals and communities.
But these climate impacts are disproportionately affecting developing countries, particularly Africa. For example, drought in East Africa has killed millions of animals; left crops withered and forced over 10,5 million people into possible famine.
And entire economies are being destroyed as well.
“Africa is suffering, Africa is choking, Africa’s growth is being stymied because of climate change, and we lose 7-15 billion dollars a year, and if things don’t change, we will be losing $50 billion a year by 2030. We cannot accept that,” said Akinwumi A. Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) during an event at the COP27.
Lidy Nacpil of the Asia Peoples Movement on Debt and Development and Coordinator of the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice –the coalition of civil society organizations that has organized the protests told Timescape Magazine that it’s a matter of justice for developed countries to pay for the climate damage because they are responsible for the changing climate.
During the Paris Agreement of 2015, developed nations pledged $100 billion yearly to help developing countries in climate adaptation and mitigation. That pledge has yet to be kept. And discussions about loss and damage payments have met with opposition from the West.
“The United States and the European Union, historically the world’s biggest emitters, argue that agreeing to such terms would open them up to never-ending litigation. These fears are coupled with a view that not only is the quantum of finance too great, but that the money would be better spent on mitigation and adaptation,” said the Archbishop of Abuja, His Grace Ignatius Kaigama, in an email interview.
For Ms. Nacpil, it’s an issue of bad faith.
“International leadership does not have enough political will in pursuing the climate actions and solutions that the world needs,” she said.
“Today, our message is about climate finance. That is an obligation of rich countries outlined in the climate conventions. The needs of developing countries (… estimates from today until 2030) are about $11 trillion. The promise of developed countries is they will try to give 100 billion dollars a year. That is small compared to their obligations.”
Noting that it was time the world listened to the affected people, she said developing nations weren’t asking for charity.
“This is about justice because it is primarily the rich countries responsible for climate change. They owe us reparations. Those who have little to contribute to the problem suffer the worst. Under any situation when you cause harm to people, you are obliged to make repairs and that is one of the principles of the climate convention, but the rich countries always want to evade and avoid discussing climate finance, or when they make promises like $100billion, it is too small. It’s not what they should be providing. But they are spending twenty times more in fossil fuels.”
According to Adesina, Africa requires $125 billion dollars every year for climate adaptation, but receives only $11 billion,
“So, we are talking about at least $ 114 billion of financing gap,” he said.
With the West showing little inclination to fast-track financing, NGOs and civil society organizations are voicing frustration at the slow pace of things. Dr. Augustine Njamshi, Chair of the Political and technical affairs at the Pan African Climate Alliance (PACJA) told Timescape Magazine that Africa should have been considered a continent with special needs in line with the UN Convention on Climate Change.
“Africa’s case is different from many perspectives. Vulnerability is not only the predisposition to be affected by the impacts of climate change. Vulnerability is also the power and the efficiency to stand up back when you are affected by the impacts of climate change. Science recognized that these floods, droughts, and extreme weather conditions are more in Africa than anywhere else.”
Still, there are slivers of good news. The President of the AfDB told delegates to the COP27 that he came with a “vuvuzela” of funding for adaptation and mitigation in Africa.
“Megawatts of talks will not lead to adaptation to climate change. Megawatts of talks must translate to megawatts of financing for Africa,” he said.
“We come to the table with finances and programs that will enable Africa to protect itself from the negative impacts of climate change. At the AfDB, we have committed to double our climate finance to 25 billion dollars by 2025,” Adesina said.
He said the Bank and the African Union and Global Friends on Adaptation have launched a program called African Adaptation Acceleration Program.
“That program is to mobilize 25 billion dollars for climate adaptation in Africa; it’s the largest program ever in the world on climate adaptation,” he said.
And good signals came immediately from the UK, which committed 200 million pounds to the fund, and from the Netherlands government which donated 110 million euros.
“That means we are making progress,” Adesina concluded.
For the Nigerian climate activist Luky Abeng, the sirens of protest will only cease when substantial efforts are being made in his country to address the problems of floods that have wasted so many lives and destroyed so much property.
This story was produced as part of the 2022 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.