Liberia: Climate smart food system innovation to drive prosperity

Liberia is still battling with a wide range of socio-economic challenges partly steming from the war between 1989- 2003 and most recently, Ebola. Today, the country is termed as one of the world’s poorest countries, fragile to conflict and susceptible to more disease outbreaks. It is characterized with high levels of poverty, lack of access to social services like health care and poor infrastructure. Worse-off, its high population growth rate of 2.56% each year has positioned it as of the countries with a high population  of approximately 5,267,926 according to the latest United Nations data projections.

At the same time, the country is endowed with natural resources such as iron ore, diamonds, gold, forest cover, lakes , rivers and fertile soils for agriculture. It has over time, recorded growth especially in the mining industry through increased exports in rubber , cocoa and palm oil which has contributed to more employment opportunities to the growing population and revenue to the government.

Despite the abundance of fertile soils for farming and with agriculture being central to Liberia’s vision for economic transformation, the country continues to face food insecurity. On average, 1 in 5 households in Liberia is food insecure and 2 in 5 households are marginally food insecure. Even though the country has recorded success in reducing chronic malnutrition rates from ‘critical’ to ‘serious’ levels according to the World Health Organization classifications, food insecurity is still evident. This has been due to lack of adequate support especially to small holder famers who play a key role in sustaining food value chains. They lack fertilizers to increase crop yields, poor financial policies that frustrate their bank loans application , lack of  farming technology for irrigation and  effective post-harvest storage, poor seeds and breeding stock among others. Worse-off, the impact of climate change has exacerbated food price volatility in the country.

Fully addressing food insecurity in Liberia, will require the government to enact policies geared towards accelerating Climate Smart Agriculture(CSA). CSA sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience (adaptation), reduces greenhouse emissions (mitigation) where possible and enables achievement of national food security and development goals. This will be achieved by scaling up CSA practices across the country, strengthening CSA research, and supporting climate , agrometeorological, food value chains and advisory services.

We are in  Liberia on a stakeholder engagement exercise to map key priorities for the country’s food system. We hope this exercise will set centre stage and offer national guidance on fully transforming the country’s food systems as a strategy for strengthening food security.

Interview: Our Founder Dr Mao Amis reflects on the 10th Anniversary of the African Centre

What inspired you to start the African centre for a Green Economy?

Even though the African Centre has been around for 10 years, the idea goes back some 6 years prior during a random meeting with my co-founder Dr Sepo Hachigonta, at a student conference in Beijing. We were both pursuing post-graduate studies in global change at the University of Cape Town, but in different departments and hadn’t met until that conference.  

We were both dismayed that it took an international organisation to bring us together, as professionals from Africa and moreover in a key sector that lacked the critical skills that we possessed. From that day, we agreed that we would not only collaborate in our studies, but would set up a platform, whose primary goal would be to foster leadership among emerging young Africans, to drive the continent’s development agenda.

We also believed strongly in the potential that a transition to a green economy could provide for Africa. However, we also agreed that if the opportunities provided by the green economy were to be effectively harnessed, requires Africans to be at the forefront of driving the agenda. But more importantly, young people should provide the required leadership. It is for this reason that since our founding, our workforce has exclusively been ambitious African youth. 

When you started the African Centre for a Green Economy , did you think you would be here 10 years later?

To be honest, we were very exploratory when we set up the Centre, but what was very clear from the onset is that we were in this for the long haul. This is partly because the nature of the problems we set out to solve such as climate change, food and energy security, require a long term view. So 10 years may appear to be long from a career perspective, but in terms of creating lasting impact, it’s not a long time. So we see ourselves being around for a much longer, but our tactics might change, depending on the needs and resources at our disposal.

 How has the journey been so far ?

To say that it’s been extremely challenging is an understatement. Building a non-profit, non-partisan entity from scratch is no child play. Aside from the challenges of institutional building, the discourse on sustainability has been changing extremely fast, so convincing key actors such as governments to take the green agenda seriously in the face of competing issues such as poverty alleviation has been difficult. However, over the last couple of years there has been increasing appreciation, that pursuing a green agenda is not a luxury by governments, but a necessity. So it’s good to watch how attitudes have been shifting, which has made our work a bit ‘easier’.

After 10 years in services, are there any major highlights you can share with us?

I think the mere fact that we are still around after 10 years, in itself is a highlight. Many people did not believe in our vision when we set out, but we have been steadfast in our efforts and over the years have demonstrated the value we bring in advancing the discourse on driving the green economy.

There have been numerous highlights, for example many of the green enterprises that we have incubated over the years are still thriving, creating hundreds of jobs for vulnerable communities on the continents. Many young people who have mentored have gone on to play a leading role in driving the green agenda, including taking up key positions in government, international NGOs etc.

Perhaps our biggest impact is in providing technical support to various stakeholders across the continent, which helped to advance the green economy discourse, and helped to embed their principles with practitioners and policymakers.

 What challenges have you faced so far?

Many of the challenges we have faced over the years are reminiscent of those faced by small organisations, such as lack of access to long term core funding, hiring and retaining a skilled workforce. We have overcome these challenges by ensuring that we remain nimble by  focusing on our key strengthens, and leveraging our strategic networks to sustain our operations.

Where do you envision the centre in the next 10 years to come?

Our goal over the next 10 years is to position ourselves as one of the best think-tanks in Africa on all aspects of the advancing the green economy. But more importantly, we want to be an active conduit for channelling climate finance to the vulnerable communities where we are working. To this end, we would like to raise a minimum of $100 million to invest in cutting edge innovations, which empower communities and build resilience of vulnerable communities. So our work over the next 10 years is cut-out for us, and the work starts now.

If you could go back in time, what’s one piece of advice you would give yourself 10 years ago? 

I don’t think there is anything we could have done differently, but perhaps we should have been more aggressive in cultivating relationships with our strategic partners from the onset, especially with governments, who are the custodians of the public goods.

If you could instantly fly all the AfriCGE employees to any destination for a 20th-anniversary celebration, where would it be?

If we are have resources, we wouldn’t wait for a 20th anniversary to appreciate and celebrate the awesome team we have at AfriCGE. I always say Africa is our play ground, I would like our team to explore every corner of our beautiful continent. However for our 20th anniversary, a retreat in Madagascar would be so befitting. Madagascar is a magical place, and epitome of how well our beauty continent is endowed by nature.

 

Energy transition: Importance of community participation

An overview

The concept of just energy transition has been in the centre of grassroot organizations for decades. It has been used in various spheres like labour movements and environmental justice campaigns as it addresses the externalities of climate actions. However, it only gained momentum over the past few years when it was used to solidify the interaction of three pillars of sustainable development namely: the economy, the environment, and members of society. South Africa is highly recognised as one of the few countries in the world to have an advanced national dialogue around the topic of just transition. This is because in 2015, it was the first country to mention a just transition in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which stimulated many dialogues, assessments, and reviews of existing policies towards decarbonization of the economy. Currently, a draft of the just transition framework is out for comments, and it highlights actions that the South African government and its social partners will take so as to achieve a just transition.

The narrative of energy transition is always centred around industrial and technological context, yet there is a need for community-based perspectives which discuss an array of social values and approaches that can be adopted as the world is transitioning.  This is because any shift in the energy landscape will have impacts being felt mostly at the local community level. To be considered as ‘just’ and ‘inclusive’, energy transition processes need to ensure fairness in terms of equal participation in decision-making processes for all members of society. Therefore, it is crucial to consider energy transition as a fixed rule rather than a vision and it should be based on openness and round table dialogues. Moreover, the outcomes and development agenda of the just transition should not be centred on top-down development approach, instead it should have strong element of community participation and inclusion to ensure that the transition does not leave anyone behind, especially the vulnerable members of the local communities. In order to achieve a ‘just’ and fair low-carbon transition, there is a need to identify opportunities of how local communities can become empowered to drive energy transition and meaningfully benefit in the low-carbon energy future. As the African continent is transitioning towards a low carbon future in line with the Paris Agreement targets to achieve Net Zero, social transformation should be a priority. To realise socio-economic benefit for renewable energy development, it is essential to involve local communities from the early stages of any just transition energy project. The involvement of these local communities will make targets more realistic as citizens play a crucial role in proposing solutions.

The key question should now be, ‘how do we get these communities involved?’

  1. Youth participation

A transition to a more environmentally sustainable future requires the government, stakeholders, enterprises, investors, organizations, and citizens to work together in ensuring resilience for today’s challenges. Any member of society whose livelihood is connected to the fossil fuel industry must be given the platform to participate in decision-making processes. Youth participation is key for any transition.  This allows young people to be architects of their own future and gives them a platform to engage in dialogues where they can address their opinions, hopes and fear as the world is transitioning. For effective participation, young people must have access to information and education that will equip them will skills and knowledge necessary for the new world. In a country like South Africa, where the rate of unemployment of young people is at its peak, the involvement of young people in just transition would offer sufficient opportunities and good alternative jobs while strengthening their decision-making skills.  Young people can offer any programmes and policies a longer perspective during its creation and innovative phases, allowing them to make more informed decisions in the future. The transition would also potentially create employment opportunities for young people as many jobs have been lost, resulting to the unemployment rate crossing the 35% threshold.

  1. An enabling environment

Another important aspect of just transition is the formation of a good working relationship between all levels of the government and the people on the ground. This allows for openness and creates platforms for addressing inequality gaps that exist between societies thus creating an enabling environment for just energy transition. Fundamental aspects that can help in creating such environments include capacity development, where members of society are equipped with relevant skills for the renewable energy sector. There is also a need for funds to be mobilize towards pilot projects in rural communities to channel investments for transformative renewable energy. It is not just the duty of the government to create these enabling environment. Various entities and actors like regional organizations, private sectors and businesses should come together and ensure that even the marginalized members of society are included in the transformation.

  1. Application of modern labour

The role of just transition has always been to protect workers whose jobs are at risk from climate change interventions as the world is moving towards a more sustainable pathway. Various studies have shown that jobs are most likely to be lost in sectors that are predominantly dependent on fossil fuel resources. This is why the transition needs to be smooth, with careful planning so that workers and the broad community relying on fossil fuel is not left stranded. Certain jobs will either be substituted or phased out without direct replacement as the world moves from higher to low carbon and less polluting technologies. Therefore, companies need to redefine their scope and train their workers so that they can be equipped with relevant skills for their specific industries. Taking for example companies that will shift from manufacturing combustion engines to producing electric vehicles. Their workers will now need to be more technologically inclined as less labour will be required.

Take home message

Climate change is a reality. The sooner the world adapts and find sustainable and inclusive solutions for all, the better. Research studies and frameworks that have been developed in then recent years have increased the urgency of generating tools, policies and strategies that can help the world to transition smoothly. What is mostly required is a joined partnership of all individuals, from different economic background to work together is bringing the low carbon future into reality.  For a smooth transition, there should be a balance of social equity and sustainable development.

Author- Xoliswa Ndeleni

Research fellow- African Centre for a Green Economy

Disclaimer: Some of the views expressed here are those of the author and are not in any way meant to represent the views of African Centre for Green Economy.

Sector Analysis: Energy governance reforms in Uganda

A government proposal to amend the current Electricity Act Cap. 145 has been tabled before Uganda’s parliamentary committee on natural resources. It follows a report published by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources which recommended that the three electricity agencies such as Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL), Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) and Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL) be merged into one state owned company while the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) responsible for extending the grid to rural areas should be directly placed under the ministry. The government’s view is that this decision will aid in eliminating replication, irregularities, inefficiencies and redundancies of some programmes shared by these agencies in the same sector, set the stage for compliance of different actors and most importantly, redirect unnecessary government expenditures to other pertinent economic challenges.

In addition, the amendment bill seeks to enable a  transition from a single bulk supplier model to include Independent Power Providers as direct suppliers of electricity to consumers and increase funding for the Electricity Regulatory Authority from 0.3% to 0.7% of the revenue received from electricity sales as a means of supporting it in regulating electricity sector. It is projected that this will enable better monitoring, evaluation and address existing gaps and deficiencies in service delivery.

The proposed electricity amendments are ambitious in scope and I believe they are necessary but should go beyond the desire to see the reduction in electricity prices and rather focus more on ensuring universal access to clean energy.

Uganda’s electricity sector was unbundled two decades ago as part of the electricity sector reform and privatisation policy. The state-owned Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) was split into three electricity agencies which are; Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL), responsible for generation of electricity, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) responsible for the building of transmission lines and Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL) responsible retail end.

Before liberalisation, only 1%  of the population was connected to the grid. 22 years later, one can say that the liberalisation of the energy sector has to some extent bore fruit; 24% of the population has been connected to the grid and revenues of the different electricity agencies have increased. For example, UMEME- an electricity distributing company in Uganda continues to record revenue increases over the years. As of 2021, its gross profit rose to Shs642.2bn, up from Shs478.9bn in 2020 and other agencies like UETCL have also recoded profits and met targets. Over 30 independent power producers of different scales operate in the country.

Contrary to what one would view as successes, certain distortions and contradictions project Uganda’s electricity sector as an impediment to the country’s expected growth. Forexample, despite massive cash investments in the sector, effectful policies like the free electricity connections policy and an abundant electricity generation capacity, electricity prices are still high with a constrained supply. As a result,  88% of the population still relies on biomass such as wood and charcoal for their energy needs. Moreover, the dominance of biomass in the country’s’ energy mix has led to enormous loss of forest cover that has contributed to increased silting in water bodies due to high levels of soil erosion among other environment impacts.

These challenges have spurred the government into action with the proposed amendments as a tool to accelerate widespread energy access especially amongst rural communities, reducing electricity prices and achieving rapid industrialization.

While these proposed amendments if passed will certainly contribute to reduced electricity prices thus accelerating widespread energy access for all,  the most important question should be ; How long will it take for Uganda to achieve this ? Through REA, the government in partnership with multilateral partners such as the World Bank embarked on extending the gird to rural areas. However, the results have been dismal since access rates increased from 1 % in 2001 to only 10 % in 2021.

It is evident that extending the grid to remote communities is still a challenge thus, the government should instead use the proposed amendments to ramp up off-grid energy solutions such as solar micro and mini grids to these underserved communities and create an enabling environment to attract more private sector investments for increased clean energy access.  It should also continue to develop mini hydro power stations in instances where rural communities are in proximity with rivers that allow for it. Through this, an increase in energy access will be recorded while also advancing community development, alleviating pollution and therefore mitigating climate change.

Author : Daniel Ogwang

Researcher : African Centre for a Green Economy

The impact of Uganda’s final investment decision on its low carbon future

The signing of the Final Investment Decision (FID) between Total Energies, CNOOC and the Ugandan government on 1st February positioned Uganda as a potential league member of oil exporting countries in Africa. The agreement will see investments close to $10 billion in developing Uganda’s oil resources and construction of a 1,444-kilometer pipeline  from Uganda to the ports of Tanga in Tanzania. This FID  generated considerable excitement amongst government officials and various segments of the public after a long period of inertia characterised by tax and investment disputes between the government and the oil companies. At the same time, there has been backlash from environmental groups, including a campaign to stop South Africa’s commercial banks from investing in the project, due to its impact on Uganda’s low carbon future.

Like all mineral discoveries, the justification behind their commercial exploitation is rationalised through a prism of revenues and royalties to be collected and earned which provide an avenue for the government to uplift citizens out of poverty through interventions in healthcare, infrastructure, job creation among others. According to the president, collected revenue from the oil and gas sector will enable Uganda’s next development phase in fulfillment of vision 2040. Vision 2040 is centered on strengthening the fundamentals of the economy to harness the abundant opportunities in which oil and gas are listed. While this has to an extent been true for the Western world, given how they used coal and oil to drive their economies, it has mostly been the contrast for Africa; limited economic development with massive destruction of the environment, pollution and displacement of communities with little improvement of their socio-economic positions have been the order of the day.

Uganda, just like most developing countries is no exception. Weak state institutions have limited the ability of the government to exhibit efficient leadership and tackle challenges such as poverty.  Unemployment continues to rise while people’s living standards are worsening with corruption at the brim. Nonetheless, the country still holds high hopes on its fossil fuel “treasures” as a solution to most socio-economic challenges. Offcourse this is a failed attempt.

The development of Uganda’s oil and gas sector will significantly increase carbon emissions and therefore sabotage the current global campaigns geared towards accelerating a low carbon future. Uganda is a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement whose goal is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030. At a time when member countries are transitioning to low carbon development pathways in fulfilment of the set goals and guidelines, it is unfortunate that Uganda is rather pursuing fossil fuels which contribute highly to green gas emissions.

Last year in November at COP26,  Uganda submitted its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which highlighted the country’s measures for a lower carbon footprint and renewed commitment to climate action especially when it enacted its climate change act. Months later, we are met with an FID also guaranteeing commitment to the development of oil and gas as a tool for economic growth. This rather depicts the dishonesty of our leaders , how COP has turned out to be a meet and greet event for politicians with no environmental interests at heart and most importantly, it further makes us question Uganda’s readiness to commit to climate action.

Not only that, but the country is already reeling from the loss of forest cover due to human activity such as charcoal burning for energy needs. Recent figures indicate a decrease from 4.9 million  in 1990 to 1.8 hectares in 2015. As a result, many animal species which are dependent on these natural habitats have over the years decreased. Therefore, hydrocarbon exploration involving  gas flaring, drilling of oil wells and construction of the  pipeline to crude oil transportation will exacerbate environmental destruction and encroachment on wildlife and biodiversity in Murchison Falls National Park, Bugoma Forest Reserve , Taala Forest Reserve and the surrounding areas. According to statistics, approximately 2,000 square kilometres of wildlife habitats are at the verge of being destructed by the pipeline. Worse off, river Nile has tributaries that flow near the pipeline route hence there is fear amongst communities about the possibilities of oil spills leading to environmental pollution and loss of  livelihoods.

Furthermore, Uganda’s oil risks being stranded asset in the future which will lead to detrimental losses for the government. Stranded assets are sources of fossil fuel which are prone to losing value due to the transition to low-carbon development pathways. In a period when the world is moving away from dirty energy sources due to climate change, the long-term future of a fossil fuel driven economies are uncertain. More so, if the world is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as required by the Paris Agreement, more than half of oil and gas world reserves need to stay in the ground. This would mean fossil fuels like oil will be unprofitable and worthless as the call for net-zero emissions deepens.

In addition, there is a wide  concern amongst local communities, because many of them have not been adequately compensated for their land and other properties.  Approximately 12,000 families are  at the verge of being displaced from their ancestral land as the construction of the pipeline takes shape. The pipeline will also result into massive loss of farmlands which are a source of income and food to most people living in these communities hence with no substantial timely compensation, locals are at the risk of living an uncertain future coupled with livelihood disruption and increased food insecurity.

Therefore, further growing Uganda’s oil and gas sector will pose a serious threat to the environment, livelihoods and ecosystems which are  key aspects of the economy. Oil cannot be the solution to the current socio-economic challenges the country is faced with.  Instead, there is a need to adopt low carbon development pathways which not only provide sustainable employment opportunities to the growing youthful population but also directly respond to the worrying climate crisis.

 

Damalie Tebajjukira

Marketing & Communications Associate

African Centre for a Green Economy

 

 

 

Lack of energy access as a barrier to doing business

One of the biggest challenges Africa faces, is undoubtedly lack of access to reliable and cost effective energy. Less than 50% of the African population is connected to a national grid, and in some countries such as Uganda only 20% have access. The benefits of  energy access to human wellbeing are well documented, including access to clean drinking water, heating, cooking and other economic activities.

Over the years, there has been a growing recognition that if the material wellbeing of vulnerable people is to be improved, universal access to energy must be achieved, as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7), which aims to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.”

It’s also well recognised that, its practically impossible to connect everyone into the national grid, where in some cases such infrastructure is even none-existent. And in some cases the cost of connecting to the grid is so exorbitant, it does not make business sense. As a result, there has been a strong push for distributing off-grid energy solutions, such as solar to vulnerable communities that require electricity. It’s estimated that over the last 10 years, millions of Africans have managed to access off-grid lighting solutions, resulting in their improved wellbeing, and catalysing other opportunities for economic development.

Unfortunately, most of the progress has been limited to accessing electricity for lighting, with very limited opportunities for productive use. Little progress has been achieved in unlocking energy for productive use, such as the powering of machines for small scale manufacturing and irrigation. This is partly because even though solar technology has become ubiquitous, it’s still extremely costly for productive use. Other systemic challenges such as access to finance has also impacted on the wide uptake of solar technology for productive use.

Over the last couple of months researchers from the African Centre for a Green Economy, have been documenting some of the key challenges small enterprises face in accessing affordable energy for their business. For example between November and February, our researchers interviewed more than 450 small to medium enterprises in the West Nile Region of Uganda. Here are some of the top five barriers to accessing energy for productive use that were mapped:

  • The cost of solar is still prohibitively high for powering small businesses, which require power beyond lighting
  • Lack of dedicated solar providers in rural areas, which are most impacted by lack of access to the grid
  • Poor understanding of the potential solar power provides to improve their productivity and profitability
  • Lack of effective regulatory requirements to adhere to high quality solar technology, often means that small business invest substantial amounts, which are lost due to technology failure
  • Lack of after-sales services from solar providers, often means that users are unable to optimally utilise the solar systems, and cant’t fix minor problems which could have been solved as a result of an effective after-sales service.

 

Just transition: A critique of South Africa’s 2022/23 budget speech!

On Wednesday 23rd February, South Africa’s Minister of Finance, Mr Enoch Godongwana delivered the 2022 budget speech to outline government’s plans aimed at improving public service delivery and the economy. A further breakdown of how the government will finance commitments made by the president in the State of National Address was given. In general the budget was well received, as there no major tax increases, and the government’s fiscal position improved significantly due to effective tax collection.

However, we note with concern the inadequate allocation towards addressing South Africa’s transition to an inclusive and green economy. At the State of National Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa reemphasized South Africa’s commitment in addressing climate change including  its recent climate targets  submitted at COP26 geared towards limiting warming to 1.5°C as required by the Paris Climate Agreement. We believe it’s time to match these verbal commitments with real action against climate change.

While the 2022 budget has rolled out the use of carbon tax as a means of combating carbon emissions especially from high carbon polluting businesses, the increased new carbon tax is still low compared to the global urgency required to avert the climate crisis.  According to the minister,  the carbon tax rate will increase from R134 to R144 and the carbon fuel levy will increase by 1c to 9c per litre for petrol, and 10c per litre for diesel. Despite the fact that South Africa’s commitment at COP26 indicated a yearly increase of carbon tax , the current increase is not fit enough to completely restrain high carbon producing entities from operating especially in a country which is more vulnerable to climate change. With more cases of extreme weather conditions that disproportionately affect marginalized communities, it is disappointing that South Africa’s big carbon emitters will only have to pay an increase of just R10 per tonne of carbon in the face of climate change that continues to bite.

We welcome the government’s intention in addressing Eskom’s debt as this would ensure efficient service delivery to businesses hence positively impacting on the economy. We also welcome the proposal to restructure Eskom energy mix to include the use of renewable energy is a sustainable solution that will reduce the strain on electricity generation. As the president emphasized in the State of Nation Address, renewable energy will make electricity affordable to the masses, more dependable, will enable industries to compete globally and also support the country’s efforts in meeting the global clean energy future.

Therefore, putting specific emphasis on the carbon tax mechanism as a strategy in aiding  South Africa’s fight against climate change  and limiting greenhouse emissions will be an efficient strategy if only it is coupled with more and aggressive decarbonization pathways like the just transition.

Youth leadership at COP26: A personal reflection

Ms. Rose Kobusinge1

1Graduate Student, University of Coventry, UK

Summary

  • COP26 produced mixed feelings/vibes; average, failure and a few wins
  • Youth engagement in COP26 was tokenistic and this MUST stop, rather transformative inclusion is needed.
  • “We hear you”, “you have every right to be angry”, “we are doing our best” these words do not take the youth to decision-making tables. There should be a minimum requirement for youth in the official national delegation that all parties must follow for accreditation
  • We need climate leaders who will push boundaries to deliver on climate, social and sustainable development targets and not greedy politicians
  • Young people from African countries and other developing nations need both local and global community support to engage in decision-making and climate action
  • As young Africans, we need to be proactive, united and strategic, otherwise the systems do not favour. Also, we must push for the systems to change for the best
  • Climate, Social, Biodiversity and Gender justice will not come easily, we have got to be united, and we will not be defeated.
  • Hence, as young people, scientists and civil society, it’s our role to hold our leaders accountable or else they will be no significant PostCOP26 deliverables and required ambitions.
  • The youth need to understand that climate action neither starts nor stops at COP. So, attending COP is a tiny, teeny bit of the journey. Grassroot, local, national and global ambitions, leadership and actions are what is needed.
  • I call upon all youth in Africa with the privilege of accessing information or read this to use the opportunity to learn more about climate action and raise awareness in their communities
  • For the African youth that want to attend COP27, we must start proactively engaging and creating impact now.

An uneasy journey to my first COP ever!

Before COP26, I struggled to find a badge and funding just like many other young people, especially from the global south. Luckily, I received a badge from Global Climate Action (GCA), two weeks before COP26. Thanks to EJF and partners for funding me and 5 other young people from the global south to attend COP26. After receiving the funding, I was finally ready to go to Glasgow for my first COP ever, how exciting! My journey to Glasgow was not easy with train breakdown delays of about 4 hours but nevertheless, the hope and momentum for COP26 was still alive. I arrived quite late on the 31st and I was ready for the blue zone on the next day. On the 1st, I found my way to the blue venue with over an hour of standing in the queue, all excited about in-person learning and contributing to the negotiation process having participated in a few negotiations’ simulations during my study at the University of Oxford. Little did I know that I won’t have any chances to see how the process is held because I had a non-party badge, a challenge many young people faced. I contacted my country’s delegation and the other organizers to give me an opportunity to go in negotiation rooms at least for one session to learn but I was not successful. Moreover, there were no screens to watch the negotiations, only the COP26 platform, which was very complex and not user friendly.

My days at the blue zone

Realizing that it was not possible to directly contribute or participate in negotiations, I needed to find indirect pathways to voice the positions of many young women and Ugandan youth. I also took advantage of the side events in the pavilions, interviews, outside the COP venue and networked with various youth and participants. I also had the opportunity to meet Prince Charles, Sir. David King, UN Envoy on climate&migration, Ms Caroline Dumas, the sustainability managers of Twitter and Facebook among others.

On the 5th / 11/2021, I also participated in my first climate strike ever, moreover as a frontline lead where I managed to meet other enthusiastic climate activists like Destin Sempijja, Vanessa Nakate, Elizabeth Wathuti among others.  There were two matches that took place on 12 and 13th which indeed energized and gave me hope; looking at thousands of multi-cultural young people joined by children, their parents, the elderly and campaigners from different backgrounds calling for climate action and climate justice. I believe global and local leaders can do better if they come together and learn from the young people! This is possible as seen from the approaches towards ending COVID-19. Even though there are still inequalities in global COVID and vaccine management, it’s clear that COVID was handled as an emergency.

If climate change is prioritized just like the COVID-19 pandemic, where various vaccines were developed within a few months after the outbreak and the global north willing to donate vaccines to the global south to reduce vaccine inequality, I believe a clean and just energy transition is possible, grants for adaptation, loss and damage and mitigation is possible too. Plus, the success of the Montreal protocol should also be revisited for lessons and strategies. I believe there are many examples showing global action is possible, it just depends on if the rich countries think the issue is urgent enough and affects them too. Otherwise, we can do this; I mean if our leaders do not continue letting us down and if we all come together as one to act on climate change (global, private, civil, public, youth, international, local and indigenous communities).

My thoughts about COP26

COP26 produced mixed feelings; many young people think it was a failure, other people think it was a mediocre COP whereas some politicians say it was a success. I completely agree with all the three categories depending on the context, the most important bit is we shall judge by what happens PostCOP26.

Were my COP26 expectations met? The answer is NO to a larger extent. In my experience and from talking to negotiators and other young people at COP26, there were mixed feelings about COP26, all the young people were not impressed by how less inclusive the summit was but also about the drudgery on key issues such as Loss and Damage and climate finance. I also felt that the urgent need to cut emissions was not prioritized as it should have been. “We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees alive”, said Alok Sharma the COP26 president. The fact is this dream cannot be achieved if rich countries continue to treat the atmosphere as a dumpster for GHGs.   Moreover, there was a discrepancy between what that the leaders promised during the world leaders’ summit and the actual negotiations. During the leaders’ summit and PreCOP26, it felt like negotiations were going to be much simpler given the verbal promises.

As far as youth engagement is concerned, COP26 further affirmed the existence of tokenism in youth engagement. The leaders continue to praise themselves on how much they have engaged youth in COP26 and in many other climate action ventures based on only a few cherry-picked youth. Many leaders are using the phrase “youth engagement” to make themselves look good and convince the youth that they are working on it. You hear responses like “we hear you”, “you have every right to be angry”, “we are doing our best” and then you know it’s time for tokenism. Regarding negotiations, we are still far from transformative youth engagement as many of the governments did not accredit youth (there were no official party youth delegates) and those that accredited them were not given an opportunity to directly contribute to negotiations.

Following this, I managed to talk to a few leaders at COP26 to advocate for the states to ensure that there is a condition on a minimum number of youths in the official delegation as young negotiators and also MUST involve the youth in decision-making. Otherwise, the old generation is deciding a future for the young people without their contributions/considerations. This is also an opportunity for states to train a new generation of negotiators, 21st century leaders. It’s a shame if they think the same old negotiators will continue to negotiate our future.

Anyway,  looking back at the Glasgow Climate Pact, the word “youth’ is mentioned 10 times, all only under the “collaboration” section. One could say that this is incremental progress as compared to the previous summits, but this is not what we the young people want. We want positions and opportunities that we deserve to shape our own future, we want to directly contribute to negotiations, contribute to policies and be involved in climate finance, have considerably easy access to climate finance for our innovations and ideas etc. Moreover, the pact generalizes youth as one, to be clear, we need increased engagement and inclusion of young people, women, displaced people and marginalized groups from the global south and vulnerable communities.

Looking back at the events PreCOP26, social media and world leaders’ summit, it seems to me that the global leaders seemed more interested in COP26 than the road after COP26. The momentum PreCOP26 showed as if COP26 was going to be the most seamless and inclusive COP ever, but this was not true.  As young people, activists and civil society, we must keep pushing and keep our eyes on the leaders demanding for action post COP26, it’s what matters the most. Every young and old person out there with the privilege of knowing about climate change, the Paris Agreement and COP26 should make it their key responsibility to hold their local leaders and the global leaders accountable to fulfil the pledges made. I call it a privilege because I know that the biggest number of young people for example in Uganda (due to low levels of education and outdated school curricula) do not know what climate change is but are facing the harsh impacts from droughts, floods, landslides affecting lives and livelihoods. This means that Action for Climate Empowerment should be prioritized at both global and local levels as the most vulnerable communities and young people need to know how to adapt, mitigate and act on the existential threat of climate change. Sadly, the most vulnerable have had very little to contribute to climate change and at the same time struggling with social-economic injustices, unemployment, poverty among others while the culprits of climate change continue to enjoy dirty profits from fossil fuels as they make empty promises and drag themselves, yet climate change is not waiting in any way.

I also think states should think beyond COP26, let them not limit themselves to decisions made at COP26, we need much more ambitions as the climate is not taking time off. I believe there is an opportunity to have climate leaders and climate action states to show the rest of the world that a just and fair system and climate is possible. i.e., If we could have a model African country deciding to lead the way for clean and sustainable development using low carbon pathways, that would be a gamechanger for the continent.

It was not all bad but could have been better. I can’t forget the hospitality of people in Glasgow and the wonderful opportunity I had to network with COP26 participants. I made friends and met amazing people from all over the world during COP26 and I will work with some of them post COP26. I attended and contributed to a number of side events on renewable energy, Nature-based solutions, youth and women engagement, climate finance etc.

Affirming the 1.5oC limit was a success and the finalization of the long-overdue Paris rulebook was a debt finally paid and I hope it will be able to guide action. In addition, I hope the progress on loss and damage, phasing ‘out’, rather ‘down’ fossil fuels will continue to progress at a needed rate as climate change is not waiting neither is it still negotiating any terms!

As regards the Glasgow Climate Pact, I am surprised that they called it a pact without pointing out the consequences to those that break it.

Also, some negotiators from the global south felt that there was an improvement as compared to the previous negotiations. This makes me scratch my head regarding what past negotiations were like knowing a bit of how COP26 went. Nevertheless, we need to see states take bold actions post COP26. And importantly, climate action should aim to address the root causes of vulnerability and inequalities. Otherwise, COP will seem to look like one of those annual political and ministerial shows where leaders meet to talk the talk.

I hope the COP27 will go deeper to address issues of youth and indigenous community inclusion, the loss and damage, more ambitions of phasing out coal, fair carbon markets, finance for adaptation, nature-based solutions and loss&damage and climate justice. I also think the discussions on carbon removal from the atmosphere should be brought on board.

What next for me Post-COP26

I will be collaborating with the sustainability team working with Twitter to speak about how youth in Africa could use Twitter for climate advocacy.

I have hosted Twitter spaces exploring what they think about COP26 and their actions up next.

I will also strengthen the youth group under YOUNGO on migration and climate change

I will be collaborating with some other Ugandan and Nigerian young people I met at COP26 to bring African stories to life.

I will also be speaking at 3 different panel discussions on climate change and inclusion in December

I will also be preparing to actively engage in COP27, it’s coming home in Africa.

What COP27 could look like; Leadership with a focus on Youth engagement

COP27 is an African COP, Africa is the youngest continent and it’s time to leverage on the young innovative, enthusiastic and revolutionary young population. Over 70% of Africa’s population is below 30 years old. Can we have a youth-led COP27? Egypt and its partners should aim to put young people in leadership positions and build their (our) capacity in delivering COP27. From initial meetings and preparatory phases, young people should be involved and tasked to ensure the critical youth, women and children voices are included throughout the whole process. I would also like to see other countries join the Italian government in their decisions to annually convene young people PreCOP.

Also, I would like to task all the young people who know about climate change and have access to information to spread awareness and share opportunities with other young people and local communities they do not have the information and opportunities. As young Africans, we can leverage COP27 to be an inclusive and innovative COP and united with each other to make it worthwhile. Let’s be proactive and not wait for leaders to include us as they may or may never, we must keep pushing.

Interviews and events:

I contributed to a number of interviews with Ugandan local media; NBS television, new vision and other international media outlets like RE TV, Tortoise media, OPEN media. I was also hosted by Isabella-EJF on a live event:

 

Some of the links include:

Migration&climate change https://www.open.online/2021/10/30/cop-26-rose-kobusinge-rifugiati-climatici-intervista-video/
EJF live event: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CWBuEVxr07s/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Gender day: https://ejfoundation.org/news-media/gender-equality-is-essential-for-true-climate-solutions

RE TV; https://www.instagram.com/p/CV6Hb-MoZs4/?utm_medium=share_sheet

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6859536226622427136?updateEntityUrn=urn%3Ali%3Afs_feedUpdate%3A%28V2%2Curn%3Ali%3Aactivity%3A6859536226622427136%29

ONE Africa: https://twitter.com/KobusingeRose1/status/1463820032870424578?s=20

COP26 Reflections on Climate Finance Matters

Karishma Ansaram a, b

a,PhD Student
IESEG School of Management, Univ. Lille, CNRS, UMR 9221 – LEM – Lille Economie Management, F-59000 Lille, France

b Contact Point,
Finance & Market Working Group, YOUNGO                                                                                                   

INTRODUCTION

‘Climate Finance is known as the elephant in the room’- Chatham House. The latter has dominated the negotiation agenda in COP26 more than in any other COP. Negotiators agreed in Paris, in 2015, to align financial flows with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development, but they left numerous tricky elements for successors to hammer out.

The success of COP26 rested on Climate Finance matters from diverse streams; the delivery of the $100 billion goal, long term finance program and Article 6 of the Paris Agreement which is largely related to emission trading. Despite the long preparation and discussion, Parties were hanging on the negotiations until the last minute about the deliverables on Climate Finance. In this piece of reflection, we bring forward the key matters that were reigning the negotiations, present the related outcomes and discussion on the way forward or ongoing work programmes.                                                                           

$100 billion Climate finance goal

The two-week negotiations have been outcried over the missed target of $100 billion a year promise that was made more than a decade ago in 2009 Copenhagen Accord and formalised in Cancun, 2010. Climate Finance need is increasing every year with the uprising climate risk and especially the conditionality of developing countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are relying on external financing.

However, amongst the unfulfilled promise, we saw the introduction of news promises to sooth the paining negotiations. OECD[1] forecasts released on the eve of COP26 was a hope of light that the target will be met by 2023. Unsurprisingly, the ambiguity over this projection was the centre of critics i.e key matters such as country-by-country figures are not set out. This two-year hope was least of an assurance to developing countries.

The most recent estimates included in the fourth Biennial Assessment[2] (launched during COP26) by the Standing Committee of Finance provides overview of climate finance flows show that global climate finance flows reached an annual average of $775 billion in the period 2017-2018, an increase of 16% from the period 2015-2016. However, total public finance support from developed to developing countries only grew 2.7% in the same timeframe. Most developed countries have not yet mobilized climate finance in accordance with their fair share.

What comes after the $100 billion is the second-highest priority on the climate finance agenda. Parties have several options for launching a process to establish a new, collective, quantified goal for climate finance for the post-2025 period, from a floor of $100 billion per year, to be agreed by 2024. In doing so, countries can consider the first-ever Needs Determination report of developing countries, published by the Standing Committee on Finance in October 2021.                                                                                                     

LONG TERM FINANCE

As mentioned before, the $100 billion is only a drop in the ocean for need of Climate Finance. Developing countries need in between $ 5.8-5.9 trillion by 2030 (UN, 2021). Matters of concern on long term finance goes beyond mere billion or trillion. Parties especially least developing countries put forward urgent matters that needs to be addressed.

First of all, the disproportionate allocation of climate finance between adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage was flagged. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres has said that 50 per cent of overall climate finance must be committed to adaptation, but only around 25 per cent of this US $80 billion was allotted as such. No formal decision was taken on adaptation finance, except through Article 6, but Parties are requested to submit their adaptations communication before COP27 (only 35 have done so to date).

Loss and damage talks were left at bay in previous COPs. After much lobbying and advocacy for loss and damage, for the first time, the latter has garnered global attention in COP and an entire section was dedicated to this matter in the Glasgow Climate Pact[3]. Countries are increasingly including loss and damage in their NDCs. The G77 plus China urged COP26 to introduce a ‘Glasgow Loss and Damage Facility’ to offer financial assistance to vulnerable countries. Accessing the funding was one of the obstacles that least developing countries mentioned. They are pushing for a harmonized approach for the grant application process.

Parties also commit to a process to agree on long-term climate finance beyond 2025. A consortium of investors has pledged to align $130 trillion of private finance assets – 40 per cent of the total to net zero. Although the group is still substantially invested in fossil fuels companies, the agreement is a further part of the overall finance jigsaw, but much will depend on its implementation.

Developing countries are also pushing for more transparency on what is “counted” on climate finance and requiring rich countries to disclose more details about what type of climate finance they are contributing.

But that process must tackle two main major challenges. First, on the level of ambition, balancing assessments of need with political realism. Second, on learning lessons from the current goal – in particular ensuring clarity on additionality of funds as well as on measurement of progress as the lack of these has undermined trust in the current target.                                                                                                   

Article 6 of Paris agreement

Six years after the ratification of the Paris Agreement, the rulebook of Article 6 has finally been completed. The intense and overnight negotiations were rewarding at the end. Critics are not in a celebration mode over this but rather highlights that the language of the rulebook fell short of fully realizing the rules and procedures that needed to bring market forces to bear as strongly as possible on emission reduction.

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement[4] recognizes that some Parties choose to pursue voluntary cooperation in the implementation of their nationally determined contributions to allow for higher ambition in their mitigation and adaptation actions and to promote sustainable development and environmental integrity. Article 6.2, 6.4 and 6.8 were related to the carbon pricing mechanisms and were largely negotiated.

Under Article 6.2, countries can transfer their mitigation outcomes against another country’s NDC, it is known as the internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs). Environmental integrity and accountability of those transfers is key if we wish to meet the global climate goals. As such double counting should be avoided and the rules of corresponding adjustments were introduced such that the offset credits cannot be claimed twice. A second crunch issue was on adaptation finance through the Share of Proceeds which the article would not address but in the end concluded with encouragement to make adaptation finance available commensurate with what is collected under Article 6.4.

Article 6.4 was paradoxical of wanting to move forward by dragging the past along i.e the how to incorporate the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) that was part of the Kyoto Protocol. The CDM, launched when the Kyoto Protocol was ratified by 192 countries in 1997, allowed the creation of emissions trading to let countries invest abroad to earn credit towards their Paris Agreement emissions targets. After much lobbying by climate activists on the ‘zombie credits’ of the CDM, the outcome gave room to a limited number of certified emission reductions (CERs) produced between 2013 and 2020 under the Kyoto CDM to be offset against countries’ NDC commitments for 2030. Environmental groups were wary that if CERs were allowed to be brought forward, the supply will increase thereby driving the price down and providing an easy way for countries to meet their NDCs, rather than directly reducing their emissions. Thus, the Article 6.4 catered for discounting (reducing) the CERs by 2% when they are being transferred as ITMOs.

There was debate among countries over a carbon trading tax intended to fund adaptation in developing nations. While bilateral trading in carbon offsets will not be subject to the levy, there will be a separate international system for issuing offsets, on which a 5 per cent tax will go to adaptation.

Standards are vital for environmental integrity and will enable tracking and transparency of the use of emission reductions and internationally transferred mitigation outcomes. The development of comparable and measurable standards and baselines for emission reduction activities under the Article 6 mechanism and for voluntary cooperation should be transparent and take into account sectoral expert consultations, as well as existing experience with MRV principles under the UNFCCC.

Article 6.8 provides a non-market mechanism. At the very beginning of the discussions, this section was undefined and could be about cooperation on development aid or on climate policy through fiscal measures, such as taxes on carbon usage or emissions. A Glasgow Committee on non-market approaches was also established to implement the work programme of Article 6.8. It will meet bi-annually along with the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), starting in June 2022.                                                                                                         

DIVESTMENT AND JUST TRANSITION

In order to deliver on these promises, COP26 also agreed for the first time to accelerate efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and recognised the need for support towards a just transition.

COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma has vocally supported a ban on coal finance or even all fossil fuel investments. Political signals in the right direction have emerged from the G7 Summit and the 76th UN General Assembly, in September, including the announcement by Xi Jinping on the Chinese decision to stop building new coal power projects abroad. Further outcomes are also expected at the G20 Rome Summit.

Conclusion

Glasgow has been a critical crossroad on Climate Finance negotiation matters. Finance has the power to reframe what is possible: more urgent action on adaptation and mitigation. Looking forward to the work programme on long term finance, accessibility and equity for the most vulnerable is key. Additionally, it is of utmost importance to look into the definition and standardization of climate finance based on an evidence-based assessment of needs.

A matter of life or death: At COP26, vulnerable countries tell developed nations it’s time to keep their promise on climate finance

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/11/1105222

Has COP26 delivered enough on climate finance to drive the ambition that vulnerable communities need?

https://www.eurodad.org/cop_26_analysis

Cop26: African nations seek talks on $700bn climate finance deal

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/08/cop26-african-nations-seek-talks-climate-finance-deal

COP26: Article 6 rulebook updated, but remains work in progress

https://ihsmarkit.com/research-analysis/cop26-article-6-rulebook-update-but-remains-work-in-progress.html

COP26: Five reasons why carbon markets (Article 6) matter

https://carbonmarketwatch.org/2021/10/28/cop26-five-reasons-why-carbon-markets-article-6-matter/

Carbonmarketinstitute.org : COP26-Glasgow Article-6 Explainer

https://carbonmarketinstitute.org/app/uploads/2021/11/COP26-Glasgow-Article-6-Explainer.pdf

Business views on Article 6—for Parties – ICC – International Chamber of Commerce

https://iccwbo.org/publication/business-views-on-article-6-for-parties/

Ercst.org : Post COP26 Assessment on Article 6

https://ercst.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/20211122-COP26-Art6-final.pdf

[1] https://www.oecd.org/environment/forward-looking-scenarios-of-climate-finance-provided-and-mobilised-by-developed-countries-in-2021-2025-a53aac3b-en.htm

[2] https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/Fourth_BA_2020_technical_report-V21.pdf

[3] https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/cop26_auv_2f_cover_decision.pdf

[4] https://unfccc.int/process/the-paris-agreement/cooperative-implementation

Africa at COP26 : Looking beyond the rhetoric to climate action

Date: 28th October 2021 (2:00- 3:30pm ) SAT

Platform: ZOOM

REGISTRATION

Background

In a few days global leaders, scientists and climate activists will gather in Glasgow for COP26 climate change negotiations. This meeting comes at a time when the world is just starting to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic, in addition to numerous extreme weather events. Climate negotiators at COP must therefore come prepared with ambitious goals to dramatically reduce global CO2 emissions, to curtain the devastating impact of climate change.

This COP also needs to ensure that the Paris Climate Agreement signed in 2015, can be effectively implemented, by ensuring that countries set ambitious targets in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This is important because, as it stands now, the world is off track to limit global warming to below 1.5 to avoid catastrophic climate change.

In Copenhagen in 2009, developed countries pledged to raise $100 billion annually for developing countries to undertake climate action by 2020. Unfortunately, that target has not been met. This is extremely worrying as developing countries require the resources to adapt to the impact of climate change, as they will be disproportionately impacted.

What are Africa’s expectations at COP26?

There is no doubt that Africa is already being negatively impacted by climate change, with increasing incidences of extreme events such as flooding, droughts and wildfires. Africa is already warming faster than the global average, a clear indication that the worst impacts of climate change are yet to be felt.

As leaders converge in Glasgow, what are Africa’s expectations? As a youthful continent, what are young people’s expectations? Can this COP unlock opportunities for young people to address the systemic challenges of unemployment on the continent?

Invitation to dialogue

The African Centre for a Green Economy invites you to a webinar entitled ” Beyond rhetoric: How can COP26 deliver real climate action on the ground for young people in Africa?”

Expected Outcomes

  • Unpack Africa’s expectations and and specifically youth at COP26
  • Outline key the opportunities for Africa to unclock climate finance to support youth engagement
  • Identify key policy measures required for African countries to accelerate climate action
Moderator: Dr. Mao Amis– Executive Director, African Centre for a Green Economy
Opening Remarks: Dr Martha Melesse – Senior Program Specialist, Inclusive Economies Program, `IDRC
Panelists:
  • Ms Karishma Ansaram – YOUNGO Finance & Market Working Group Contact Point
  • Ms Natalie Mangondo, Researcher, Climate Activist & COP26 youth delegate
  • Ms Rose Kobusinge – Climate Activist, PhD candidate (Coventry University)
  • Ms Elizabeth Gulugulu – Programs Manager · African Youth Initiative on Climate Change Zimbabwe