Did Africa receive climate justice from the outcomes of COP26? asks UP Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship webinar

Posted on April 07, 2022

In a recent webinar, the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship (CAS) at the University of Pretoria (UP) delved into the question of whether or not Africa received climate justice at COP26.

COP26 refers to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference that was held in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021.

Chairing the virtual public dialogue was Dr Tafadzwa Mushonga, a research fellow at CAS, with panellists Lorraine Chiponda, Africa Coal Coordinator of the International Coal Network, and Professor Patrick Bond, professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Johannesburg.

Prof Bond kicked off the conversation by acknowledging the work of activists across the country’s coastline who have been involved in pushing back legally against activities by multinational companies whose actions would have been detrimental to the coastline, its wildlife, and communities dependent on eco-tourism. This also includes activists from inland communities whose focus has been on bringing about coal reforms.

He then continued with a ‘Political Economy Scorecard’ which provided critiques of COP26.

“I want to just remind you that the continent (Africa) is facing acute risk. We have had generally extreme weather over the past few years. Looking ahead, the African continent is expected to be the site of most intense risk, facing the majority of the effects of climate change. In that context, nobody here would disagree that this was not the game-changing agreement that the world needed to see,” he said.

The agreement signed at COP26, now known as the Glasgow Climate Pact, aims to get all of the world’s countries to work together towards “reducing emissions, helping those already affected by climate change, enabling countries to deliver on climate goals and working together to deliver even greater action”.

Chiponda reiterated Prof Bond’s sentiment that COP26 is a gathering of polluters, as opposed to a gathering of countries. “COP26 is more of a space for global leaders; big powers that gather to make themselves feel better that they are doing something about the climate crisis that we are faced with. When it comes to Africa’s interests, you see that COP26 comes with very little benefit,” she said.

She added that one of the only highlights of COP26 for Africa is a pledge to provide South Africa with a $8.5 billion grant to help the country make a just transition to a low-carbon emission economy.

“Other than this, it seems that Africa did not benefit much from COP26 convening. Most of these funds are likely to be taken up by ESKOM, which is one of the biggest polluters in South Africa. We need closer monitoring of ESKOM to ensure that it starts discussing how it is going to phase out coal, and to ensure that it does not venture into other fossil fuels,” she said.

Following 20-minute presentations by each speaker, Dr Mushonga facilitated a question-and-answer session discussing, among other things, “why Africa’s agenda was not heard at COP26”.

Watch the full discussion on Zoom Passcode: &@pA5Up0

- Author Masego Panyane
Published by Hlengiwe Mnguni

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