SADC to speak with one voice at COP21

November 25, 2015, 8:21am

By Egline Tauya and Admire Ndhlovu, Southern African News Features, the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre. Photo: COP21

Southern Africa has adopted a regional common position on the forthcoming climate change negotiations set for Paris for end of November.

Key elements of the position, which was developed by climate negotiators, include emphasis on adaptation while focusing on mitigation and the measures for achieving these such as finance, technology transfer and adoption, and capacity building.

The decision, which is aligned to the Africa position, was endorsed by Southern African Development Community (SADC) ministers responsible for environment and natural resources in November, who underscored the need to speak with one voice in order to achieve outcomes that are beneficial for the region.

According to the SADC climate experts, the forthcoming 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to be held in France from 30 November to 11 December, should ensure that the proposed climate change agreement is results-based, outcome-oriented and legally-binding.

The objective of the new agreement, which will succeed the Kyoto Protocol, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase to 2°C compared to 1990 levels.

African negotiators stressed that the Paris negotiations should contain decisions to support implementation of the agreement, as well as declarations on finance, renewable energy and adaptation.

Climate experts further assert that COP 21 must reinforce national adaptation plans and provide coherence to the process to allow greater access and support for implementing the strategies.

Africa expects continued public funding for adaptation, greater South-South cooperation as well as an increase in private and blended finance for implementation.

Africa’s position notes that the agreement should stress the need for developed countries to reduce their emissions domestically and consider the principle of differentiated responsibilities on respective capabilities.

Africa calls for strengthening of technical capacities in and to support information services for effective climate change risk management and resilience.

The impacts of a changing climate affect nearly every sector of the region’s economic and social development, from agriculture and food production to power generation, human settlements, water and sanitation.

Africa is among the most vulnerable when it comes to the impacts of climate change. The fifth assessment report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that rising temperatures in many parts of Africa have negative implications for agriculture and farmer livelihoods.

For example, South Africa’s nine provinces have been declared drought disaster areas for agriculture following one of the driest rainy seasons in decades.

The drought has also placed a strain on water supplies across the country, affecting around 2.7 million households or 18 percent of the population, according to Water Minister Nomvula Mokonyane. With regards to energy, the United Republic of Tanzania switched off all its hydropower plants as lack of rain led to low water levels in the country's dams as hydro-electricity generation had fallen to 20 percent of capacity, making it difficult for the dams to operate. However, the switchover involved the addition of another thermal power station using Tanzania’s newly found resources of natural gas, adding to those already operational in Dar es Salaam and Mtwara. The Kariba Dam, shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe, has also seen power generation being drastically reduced as a result of low water levels.

According to the Zambezi River Authority update, the water storage of Kariba Dam was 24 percent full on 24 October 2015 compared to 64 percent on the same date in 2014. The decrease is attributed to lower-than-normal inflows coupled with increased generation capacity.

Other climate-related disasters such as floods and heat waves have also been experienced in the region, with increasing intensity and frequency.

To show commitment, 14 of the 15 SADC countries have since submitted to UNFCCC their post-2020 climate actions, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). These are national plans they intend to take under a new international agreement,

In the context of national circumstances, capabilities and priorities, the INDCs outline measures to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions as well as steps to be taken to adapt to climate change impacts and what support the country needs or will provide to address climate change.

Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region.

SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985.

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