Harare – Africa faces a dual onslaught of climate change and COVID-19, with the former costing the continent between US$7 billion and US$15 billion annually, the latter has claimed over 114,000 lives and billions in economic decline.
In a historic show of solidarity this week, more than 30 Heads of State and Government committed to prioritise actions that help Africa adapt to the impacts of climate change and “build forward better”.
Africa contributes only five percent of global emissions but bears the brunt of the adverse effects of climate change. The African Development Bank expects that the cost of climate change to the continent could rise to US$50 billion yearly by 2040, in addition to a further three percent decline in GDP by 2050.
At a virtual Leaders’ Dialogue convened by the AfDB and the Africa Adaptation Initiative, leaders rallied behind the new Africa Adaptation Acceleration Initiative to mobilise US$25 billion to boost climate change adaptation actions.
DRC President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi, who is the African Union Chairperson, urged global leaders to “revisit our climate ambitions and accelerate the implementation of our actions planned under our national priorities. To do this we will need to focus on actions to adapt to the impacts of climate change, these include nature-based solutions, energy transition, enhanced transparency framework, technology transfer and climate finance.”
AfDB president Dr Akinwumi Adesina said the institution and its partners intended to raise US$25 billion for the success of the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Initiative.
“It is time for developed countries to meet their promise of providing US$100 billion annually for climate finance. And a greater share of this should go to climate adaptation,” he added.
Dr Adesina also hailed the IMF’s plan to issue US$650 of new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to boost global reserves and liquidity.
He said the SDR’s would be helpful to support green growth and climate financing for economic recovery.
UN Secretary-General Dr António Guterres weighed in: “African nations are showing leadership … The Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme, and many other ambitious African initiatives, must be empowered to fully deliver on their goals. “
He added: “Universal access to energy in Africa, a priority in the coming years, could be provided primarily through renewable energy. I call for a comprehensive package of support to meet these dual objectives by COP 26. It is achievable, it is necessary, it is overdue, and it is smart.”
IMF managing director Ms Kristalina Georgieva acknowledged that Africa faced health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and was also the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
“Tackling this dual challenge requires putting adaptation at the heart of Africa’s recovery – so countries build resilience to climate change and spur economic activity. This pandemic has shown us the importance of investing in people. And that is so, so very valuable for Africa, which has a fast-growing young population. This begins by improving education, healthcare, and food security, and in that context, I warmly welcome the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme.”Speaking on behalf of US President Joseph Biden, his Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Washington was committed to partnering Africa and would continue to support the AfDB.