African Civil Society race to make the most from COP20

by Peter Labeja, PAMAAC Team In Lima

The African Civil Society group at the ongoing United Nations Conference Convention on Climate Change is racing to make the most of this year’s conference of parties (COP20).

The group attending the annual conference now underway in Peru’s capital Lima want to see additional commitment from the developed countries in providing US$ 100 Billion by the year 2020 among other crucial objectives.

“With fresh momentum and better organization, the conference should provide us better opportunity to push the developed countries to honour and deliver on its commitment. The industrialized countries must scale up their Commitments to fulfilling their obligation to providing adequate, new and additional funds as this amount is far from all estimates of climate finance needed by developing countries”, Samual Samson Ogallah of the African Civil Society Umbrella group, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) told a pre-COP consultative meeting in Peru November 30th.

Part of the demands in COP 20 includes pressing Parties to the Convention to establish a clear and transparent mechanism for monitoring, verification, and evaluation of delivery of climate funds. It also hopes, developed countries that previously did not take climate change issues seriously will have a change of heart as the world moves towards Paris 2015.

“Paris 2015 is a critical year for the achievement of a legally binding and universal agreement on climate Change, from all the nations of the world for the very first in more than 20 years in the history of Climate Change” Robert Chimabo, an African Civil Society Climate Change expert from Zambia says.

But as Mithika Mwenda, the PACJA Secretary General observes it is easier said than done. “The march towards a new climate change agreement in 2015 will be a tortuous, yet dramatic journey. Stakeholders – Governments, civil society and private sector – are all gearing towards the UNFCCC-COP21 in Paris, when a treaty to succeed the second commitment of Kyoto Protocol will be concluded”.

The impetus to fix climate crisis comes at the backdrop of the release of the Summary for Policy Makers by Inter Governmental Panel Convention on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 5thAssessment Report that cited evidence of increasing warming globe in 2014.

Mwenda has no kind words for some developed countries with never ending lingering suspicions especially among the North – South countries. This he says threatens the future of Paris 2015 Summit at a time that negotiations under Durban Platform for enhanced action (ADP), launched in South Africa during the UN COP17 are on course.

“There is no doubt that Paris will be another global convergence reminiscent of COP15 in Denmark, where more than 100 world leaders met and not much was achieved in fixing the planetary crisis the world is facing” Mwenda warned.

Already, countries like Australia and India are among World’s leading polluters criticized for folding hands during previous summits at the wake of warnings from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) that greenhouse gas emission is unprecedentedly peaking in 2014.

“Therefore, global mitigation actions must be consistent with keeping warming as far below 1.50C. Can we see global greenhouse gas emissions peaking by 2015 and declining thereafter to at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050?” Mr. Ogallah reinforced.

He hopes, submissions of ambitious greenhouse gas emission cut targets from developed countries will come to less than 45 percent below the 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 90% by 2050 without carbon offsetting.

Robert Chimambo of PACJA’s Zambia Climate Change Network says “the African Civil Society group will keenly be tracking progress on key thematic areas of adaptation, Mitigation, technology transfer, Climate Finance among others in order to help the African poor who are most vulnerable victims of climate change”.

According to Ruth Mithei of CARE International, Climate Change has been given a fresh definition considering it as “the worst form of injustice against the most poor of the people lacking both means and ways of adaptation in developing countries”.

“So, as African Civil Society group we should be looking out for the text of the Paris 2015 agreement already in Lima in order for us to employ various means of creating momentum”, she warned. This ambition is shared by many civil society actors at the conference.

A number of strategies have been adopted to achieve the objectives within the twelve days of the conference beginning December 1st including the people’s Summit March and engaging the youth in Lima to action among others.

Mithika Mwenda observes that ”the unprecedented Peoples’ Climate Summit held parallel to the UN Leaders’ Summit in New York, preceded by the historic march never seen before in the history of climate conferences was indeed a wake-up call to world leaders that citizens have lost hope with their endless rhetoric with no action”.

He says the changing climate has become the rallying point for unifying people from both the North and the South as they all realized that the solution to climate change does not rely on their leaders, but communities themselves.

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