By Agbonkhese Oboh
Delegates attending the Africa Climate Week in Accra, Ghana, have been told to be wary of false solutions to the climate change phenomenon that fossil fuels industry trade associations promote to open Africa to the highest bidder.
Climate justice groups fear that with the International Emissions Trading Association, IETA, funding the talks holding from March 18 to 22, with discussions narrowed down to carbon trading and offsets, real solutions that communities on the frontline of the climate crisis advocate may be shoved aside.
Regional and international level discussions on climate change have hitherto been hijacked by fossil fuels industry-backed trade groups like IETA that exploit the introduction of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement or market-based mechanisms to interfere and capture talks.
For instance, at COP23 in Bonn, an IETA board member led talks and was part of a country delegation. Energy companies, mostly involved in coal mining were sponsors of the COP24 in Poland and maximised the opportunity to burnish their image.
The Africa Climate Week will focus on how engagement between State and non‐State actors can be further strengthened in the key sectors for Africa including the role of future carbon markets to achieve enhanced climate action, towards the goals of sustainable development.
The high-level segment on March 20 will bring together ministers and senior leaders – including UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa – and focus on areas such as visions for NDCs enhancement and implementation, carbon pricing and markets, as well as the operationalisation of the ambition cycle in the Africa region.
Rights groups kick
However, civil society groups insist that the funding of climate talks by fossil fuels industry-aligned groups interfere in the arrival at meaningful solutions and create a conflict of interest within governments and the UN system, thereby stalling progress in tackling climate change.
Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability said: “The fossil fuel industry drives and profits off of the climate crisis, so it should be nowhere near the rulemaking process. In order to advance real solutions, we need to kick Big Polluters and their trade associations out of the climate policymaking space and anywhere government decision-makers gather.”
For Philip Jakpor of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, “the array of fossil fuel industry-aligned groups attending the Africa Climate Week leaves little hope for the African continent which carries the heavy burden of climate change.
“The impacted peoples on the continent have said time and again that the global fight against climate change rests primarily on non-market mechanisms and not commodification of the environment.”
According to Labram Musah of the Vision for Alternative Development, VALD, “except African delegates stand up for their people and advance actions needed to address the climate chaos, Big Polluters and their allies will inject dangerous propositions in the Climate Week talks to set the stage for them to dictate the outcomes of COP25.”
The groups urged African delegates to stand with impacted peoples on the continent and across the world that recommend the following to confront the climate change crisis;
Keeping fossil fuels in the ground, rejection of false solutions that are displacing real, people-first solutions to the climate crisis, advance real solutions that are just, feasible and essential;
Honor climate finance obligations to developing countries, and end corporate interference in and capture of the climate talks.
Core partners of the week-long event include the Marrakech Partnership, World Bank Group, African Development Bank, West African Development Bank, and the Climate Technology Centre and Network, CTCN, among others.
The event will be followed by the Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific Climate Weeks. Collectively, the Climate Weeks will serve as critical stepping stones in the lead-up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit slated for September 2019 in New York.