By Isaiah Esipisu
MADRID, Dec 17 2019 (IPS) – Millions of people, particularly in Africa, who lose their property, homes, and even die due to climate-related disasters will have to wait at least another year for the international community to agree on a means of supporting them. This became clear when the 25th round of negotiations on climate change came to an end in Madrid, Spain on Dec.15 without a clear deal on how to finance losses and damage associated with climate change impacts as proposed by the developing countries.
“We expected a review of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage for it to have a clear means of implementation, especially for emergency response in Africa,” Prof Seth Osafo, the Legal adviser of the President of the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) told IPS.
The Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts was established in 2013 during the 19th round of climate negotiations in Warsaw, Poland under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to assist developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
“The common person in Africa is suffering and this is an urgent call for international support,” said Michael Arunga, the Emergency Communication Specialist for World Vision’s Mali Response office.
In Mali alone, says Arunga, 5.7 million people are in dire need of humanitarian support, among them 1.6 million children, given the climate crisis and political conflicts in the country.
Mali’s population mainly relies on agriculture as their main source of livelihood. But Arunga notes that the ever-expanding Sahara Desert, frequent droughts and floods have caused the displacement of thousands of families, especially in the northern parts of the West African nation.
Less than two months ago, 42 people died after they were buried alive by landslides in Western Cameroon following heavy rainfall in the Central African Nation.
• In East Africa, more than 130 people in Kenya lost their lives in the past two months as a result of flooding and landslides due to unexpected heavy rains pounding the region. Experts say that the heavy rains are caused by the warming up of the Indian Ocean.
• According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, 330,000 people are in need of humanitarian support in the country, while at least 17,000 have been displaced in the past two months.
• “Children’s lives have been interrupted by the ongoing rains and floods in Kenya, with many of them losing their homes, schools and access to health care,” Maniza Zaman, the UNICEF Kenya Representative said in a statement released on Dec. 4.
• In Tizert Village, in the Taroudant region, southern Morocco, people are yet to forget a flash flood that swept across a soccer field on Aug.18, killing at least seven people who were watching a local match.
• Earlier this year, Southern Africa suffered Cyclone Idai and Kenneth, which led to losses of property and lives. A few months later, some countries in the region are currently experiencing extreme droughts, which experts say are as a result of climate change.
“It is evident everywhere that millions of people have been forced to migrate from their homes due to unfavourable climatic conditions and related disasters, people have lost property worth trillions of dollars, and millions more have died across Africa as a result of climate-related disasters,” said Robert Muthami, a climate change expert from Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung based in Kenya.
Scientists have already warned that the situation can only worsen in the coming years, and therefore, there is a need for urgent climate action.
According to the African negotiators, most negotiators from developed nations were non-committal on scaling up finance. “We have been discussing to very late hours, sometimes up to 3.00 am in the morning, but the progress was very slow,” Ambassador Muhammed Nasr, the Chair of the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) told journalists on Friday.
According to Ambassador Seyni Nafo, the former AGN Chair, the team was forced to push some of the most important issues to the next Conference of Parties (COP26), which will be held in Glasgow in 2020.
“It is better to leave Madrid without having decisions on some key issues [rather] than having bad decisions,” said Nafo.
The negotiators said they were avoiding what they referred to as the ‘Kyoto Disease,’ where there is an agreement with rules and procedures, but without any benefit to Africa.
“It is unfortunate that industrialised countries chose to follow the unproductive path, focusing on the nitty-gritty and postponing firm commitments,” said Dr Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Secretary for the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA). “It was disappointing that they consistently avoided or sidelined any discussion related to providing support, notably finance,” he told IPS.
Studies have shown that Africa emits only four percent of greenhouse gases, which are responsible for global warming, but the continent is the most impacted by climate change.
Madrid talks end sans accord on finance for climate damage
By Isaiah Esipisu