Toute l'actu sur la protection de l'environnement

Nassim Oulmane: « Adequate, accessible and new funding is urgently needed ».

Expected on 12 December 2023, the agreement on the Global Budget reached at COP28 was finally adopted on 13 December in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The text calls on countries to « make a transition away from fossil fuels » and to accelerate this action « in this crucial decade, in order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 ». Afrik21 looks back at this declaration without Nassim Oulmane, Acting Director of Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Boris Ngounou (BN): What do you think of the agreement on the Global Budget reached at COP28?

Nassim Oulmane: For the first time, the COP has called for transitional action to move away from fossil fuels. For Africa, which accounts for less than 4% of all cumulative and current emissions, the challenge is to ensure that climate change does not reduce our chances of developing and achieving our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the objectives of Africa’s Agenda 2063. To achieve this, the remaining carbon budget must be adjusted to give Africa the space it needs to build and secure its development and transformation trajectory.

This objective can only be achieved if industrialised nations begin immediately to phase out fossil fuels, while helping developing countries, particularly in Africa, to invest in transitional fossil fuels in order to strengthen their capacity to make the transition to green energy. It is important to replace unilateral, uncoordinated actions that create barriers to these pathways with concerted, multilateral efforts to facilitate these goals. We must always bear in mind that 600 million Africans still have no access to energy. As a result, the dual climate and development challenge facing African countries requires the promotion of investment in transitional energies, particularly gas, to ensure that the continent rapidly closes the energy access gap and industrialises at the pace needed to meet its development goals and facilitate the transition to clean energy. It is fundamentally the just energy transition that we are seeking, as part of a global phase-out based on common but differentiated responsibilities and in the light of national circumstances. This is the fair and equitable result that a united approach to the COPs must produce.

At the Dubai climate summit, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) organised a plethora of panels and sessions on the SDGs and adaptation to climate change in Africa. How would you assess this?

The ECA has indeed organised numerous events to bring Africa’s unique voice to the fore and better explain the continent’s positions and needs to the rest of the world. Financing remains the main obstacle to a global and inclusive climate response. It is of course frustrating that the target of providing $100 billion a year in climate finance has still not been met. It is also frustrating that the parties were unable to agree on the new collective quantified financing target at COP28. Despite this, many promising pledges and initiatives were announced at the climate summit held in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December 2023.

However, many of these initiatives will not materialise unless adequate, accessible, predictable and new funding is made available as a matter of urgency. It was important for these panels to point out that the funding gap is enormous. Between 5.8 and 5.9 trillion dollars will be needed to implement nationally determined contributions (NDCs) between now and 2030, 215 to 387 billion dollars are needed each year for adaptation, and 4.3 trillion dollars for investment in clean energy. These are colossal sums that will not be easily accessible from existing public funds. It is clear that making affordable finance available, restructuring debt, encouraging new and innovative forms of finance, and reforming international financial institutions and systems will make it possible to achieve the MDGs and combat climate change.

Another subject discussed by these panels concerns carbon markets.

The historic consensus reached at COP 28 calling on the parties to move away from fossil fuels will certainly increase demand for carbon credits, strongly stimulated by the increased commitments of public and private investors to reduce residual carbon emissions from energy systems, industry, built infrastructure and transport in particular. This demand will not be met by the current supply of credits on all the existing markets, which represents a huge gap. Thanks to their vast carbon sinks in tropical forests and other terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and their high potential for renewable energy production, African countries will be able to generate and trade credible and additional high-quality credits to fill these supply gaps and help accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

They will also be able to generate additional revenues to support adaptation, resilience, the SDGs and other priorities in their development plans. To enable African countries to exploit these opportunities effectively and fully, the ECA is working with partners such as the Congo Basin Climate Commission to set up high-integrity regional carbon markets that generate additional and credible credits, and preserve environmental integrity. We also had panels on the blue economy and the Great Blue Wall initiative, and with the African Islands Climate Commission to make the blue economy a pillar of the continent’s development and of Africa’s climate action.

COP28 also saw the establishment of the « loss and damage » fund, with an initial contribution of around 725 million dollars, according to the AfDB. In your opinion, what needs to be done to ensure that this fund quickly meets the needs of African countries, which are still the most vulnerable to natural disasters and the consequences of climate change?

On the very first day of the conference, the COP28 Presidency paved the way by pledging $100 million for the operationalisation and initial capitalisation of the « Loss and Damage » fund ($200 million was needed to make the fund operational). By the second day of the international meeting, nearly $725 million had been pledged to the new fund. After almost three decades of negotiations on the creation of the fund, this is a considerable step forward and demonstrates the host’s intention to achieve concrete results at the end of COP 28.

 However, it should be noted that $725 million is a far cry from the estimated $3 trillion needed to address the loss and damage caused by climate change and to build resilience. The financing needs are much greater. Much also remains to be done to define the fund’s operating rules, in particular its governance, the methods for assessing damage and quantifying compensation, the disbursement procedures, etc. The ECA has been at the forefront of helping African states to build resilience into their economies, ecosystems, infrastructure and livelihoods through initiatives such as support for the development and implementation of NDCs, capacity building for the integration of climate information into infrastructure and investment planning, and the conceptualisation of the African Climate Change Strategy.

The ECA has also facilitated the development of a tool based on a climate model to predict and assess losses and damage in African countries, which has enabled a better assessment of the needs of African countries. Today, it is important to develop innovative tools based on methodologies that are accepted and agreed at multilateral level so that the operationalisation of this fund can rapidly respond to the emergencies and needs of the continent which, I would remind you, is the most vulnerable and the most impacted by the consequences of climate change. This is what we are working on with our partners.

                                                                                                            Interview by Boris Ngounou

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