Opinion: ‘Africa’s COP’ made some big promises. Here’s how to deliver them.
The last time Africans got together to tackle climate change was two decades ago, in Kigali, Rwanda. But in the last couple of years, things have changed. The African Union’s COP24, the continent’s biggest climate summit so far, got under way in December 2016 in Durban, South Africa — the first time in history that Africans have been able to make such an important international intervention.
Over 200 countries will try to forge an agreement that could save the planet for generations to come. The event isn’t simply about climate diplomacy; for years, many developing countries have been calling for greater financial support to help them cope with the looming effects of climate change. But after so much failure, will the summit produce meaningful results, or is it destined to become an exercise in ‘Africa’s COP’?
The Durban meeting came in for criticism during the COP24 climate talks because it was held in the middle of the South African heatwave and the summit was held in a high-level location away from the heat, so that the summit would not be used as a ‘stalking horse’ by the developed nations to pressure the developing countries into supporting their climate agendas. And because it was held in the middle of the African Union’s (AU) annual summit, and because the AU is the world’s largest regional grouping, so it was seen as a potential threat to the bloc’s leadership and clout.
At the time, the AU called on the bloc to cancel the event, saying it might overshadow the summit and would damage the bloc’s standing among African governments and the international community.
Despite the criticism, the Durban meeting made some big promises, and the African Union now has two more chances to deliver them. The first is COP23,