On June 2, 2022, the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) organized a one-day civil society and media virtual roundtable to discuss and review the state of African climate ambitions whilst identifying climate priorities for Africa ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, 2022 (COP27) in Egypt. The strategic event which drew over fifty participants across the media, civil society, and communities in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, South Africa, Uganda, and Nigeria, was also designed to set the tone for interventions ahead of the 56th session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technology Advice (SBSTA) in Bonn, Germany. The Bonn Climate Change Conference, an intersessional conference held from 6 – 16 June 2022, will prepare stakeholders from around the world to make progress on technical issues and decisions for adoption at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in November 2022.[spacer height=”25px”]
Reflecting on the outlook of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, last year, the civil-society media discourse anchored by the trio of CAPPA’s Phillip Jakpor, Aderonke Ige, and Olamide Martins focused on a range of important topics, including the failures of COPs and COP26, Africa’s climate ambitions, dangers of corporate influence and the fossil fuel industry operations in Africa, gendered impacts of climate change, opportunities and prospects for achieving climate ambitions.[spacer height=”25px”]
Speaking on the weak processes of COP26, Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nigeria, noted how false solutions and distractions such as the idea of carbon net-zero dominated the negotiation table at the Glasgow Conference rather than demands for accountability, insistence on loss and damage financing, and absolute reparation measures from big corporations that have entrenched themselves in the soul of Africa, leaving destruction in the wake of their operations whilst reaping from the region’s bountiful resources. Reducing fossil fuel emissions and exploitation, especially in the Global South will involve intentional confrontations with the big polluters such as wealthy fossil fuel corporations. Unfortunately, these same entities have visibly infiltrated the COP process as seen at COP26, where they were present with corporate influence and soft power to water down climate change policies, plans, and regulations that threaten their access to non-stop exploitation of earth’s resources. These abnormalities throw up serious consequences for frontline communities who experience disproportionate social, economic, and environmental injustices triggered by climate change yet cannot meaningfully benefit from strategies proposed at the COP summit.[spacer height=”25px”]
Kwami Kpondzo, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth, Togo and representative of Oilwatch, cited poverty, stockholm syndrome myopic policies, and social imbalance as some of the reasons state authorities in Africa subject their shores to foreign oil companies for exploration (exploitation), without any plans to demand accountability or even reclamation. Africa can stave off the catastrophic impacts of climate change by not only ridding itself of all encumbrances but also diversifying its economies, concentrating investments in green and renewable energy projects in order to bridge energy poverty in the region and pull the plug on all big fossil fuel players.[spacer height=”25px”]
Ndivile Makoena, Executive Director, Gender CC, South Africa exposed the disturbing linkages between climate change and gender. As climate change intensifies, its effects are being shaped by pervasive and deeply rooted gender inequalities. Across the world, many women cultivate, and benefit directly from the earth and soil for economic, health, hygiene, food, and household purposes. Droughts, desertification, heat waves, and floods disproportionately affect women more than other persons because as research studies have shown, within the existing structures, women are less able to compete in the economic space, become more vulnerable, and face escalated systemic violence in the face of worsening climate change.[spacer height=”25px”]
Chima Williams, Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, whilst advancing strategic litigation as a valuable option for achieving climate ambitions, cautioned against the temptations of isolated struggles in demanding climate justice. Williams, the latest winner of the prestigious Goldman Prize, 2022, recalled the rough journey to holding the Royal Dutch Shell responsible for crude oil spills in southern Nigerian communities. After a 13-year-old legal battle that began in 2008, the Court of Appeal of The Hague delivered a landmark judgement in 2021 that declared the transnational corporation liable for the violations of its subsidiary in Nigeria. But this was only possible because the affected communities and persons impacted by the damaging activities of the corporation worked together with their legal representatives, in unity of purpose, great fortitude, and dogged pursuit of justice despite the long period that preceded it.[spacer height=”25px”]
Wrapping up the discussion, Hellen Neima, Africa Climate Director, Corporate Accountability, stressed the significance of the Bonn intersessional meeting and how the annual climate discourse could be leveraged to advance Afro climate change positions. According to Hellen, loss and damage funding facility including a global goal of adaptation against net-zero solutions must be advanced as more meaningful and impactful climate change interventions.