While Africa has contributed the least to historic greenhouse gas emissions globally, it stands to be the hardest hit by the effects of climate change. Climate change will affect many parts of the continent causing drastic reduction in agricultural productivity while exposing its people to water stress, droughts, floods and localised outbreaks of vector-borne diseases. Addressing climate change is therefore an urgent issue and Africa will require substantial financial resources in order to adapt to the unavoidable consequences of climate change.
However, the current models of financing do not match Africa’s climate change priorities. With approximately 80 percent of all climate finance directed to mitigation, adaptation, which is a priority for Africa, remains grossly underfunded. Additionally, less than 2 percent of the total Clean Development Mechanism projects implemented globally are located in Africa. These figures clearly expose the current disparity, and raise the question around Africa’s access to global climate finance.
Perhaps the most notable financial commitment to address climate change for developing countries was made at COP 15 in Copenhagen, where developed countries agreed to create a fast start fund of US$30 billion by 2012, growing to US$100 billion by 2020. This commitment was further developed into action at COP 16 in Cancun, leading to the establishment of the Green Climate Fund. The 40-member Transitional Committee mandated by the Conference of the Parties to design this new fund started its work in April and ended its mandate in October 2011. However, the process led to what one of the committee’s co-chairs, South African Minister Trevor Manuel, termed a “sub-optimal” outcome. Mohamed Nasr, Climate Finance Coordinator for the African Group of Negotiators was quoted as saying that it “favours developed rather than developing countries”. Ultimately, the committee members could not reach consensus on the draft text, leaving the final decision on the design of the fund to the UN climate summit in Durban.
Africa’s interest in the climate finance discussions goes beyond the Green Climate Fund. Africa calls for climate finance to be predictable, sustainable, adequate and additional to the development aid it currently receives. The sources and scale of finance, although they fall outside of the mandate of the Transitional Committee, are central to the discussion on climate finance. Africa’s position, as stated by the African Group of Negotiators, is that the majority of funding should come from public rather than private sources of finance.
African women are active agents of change in addressing the impact of climate change on the continent. However, in many societies there remains widespread gender discrimination which denies African women access to resources. Many are still excluded from political participation and decision making processes that ultimately affect their well-being and that of their families. Despite this, many African states have not systematically included gender into climate policy, and more specifically, climate finance. According to gender and climate change expert, Liane Schalatek, “engendering climate finance provides an opportunity for African states to improve its equity, effectiveness and efficiency”.
It is our hope that by delving deep into the issues that affect Africa’s access to climate finance, we begin to explore “win-win” financing solutions that reduce vulnerability to climate change and contribute to the broader economic development of the continent.