Africa must unite to make Paris Agreement work - Zuma

President Jacob Zuma has urged the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change to work closely together to make the Paris Agreement a success.

"Climate change is a global challenge that requires no one to be left behind. The whole world affirmed this in Paris and Marrakech when the Paris Agreement entered into force on the 4th November last year," said President Zuma on Monday.

The President was speaking at the Meeting of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York.

The CAHOSCC meeting is hosted by the African Union Commission (AUC) on the margins of UN General Assembly (UNGA) taking place in New York in preparation for the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The meeting involves 13 African member countries of the CAHOSC.

President Zuma said negotiations on the Paris rule-book must remain on track and ensure that there is sufficient clarity on parties' commitments under their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) on mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation.

This will ensure that Africa's key sectors are prioritised in the Implementation of NDCs, while also enhancing efforts towards poverty alleviation.

President Zuma is confident that international solidarity will prevail at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP23, which will take place from 6 – 17 November in Bonn, Germany.

"Developing countries should be provided with adequate support for their mitigation and adaptation actions and progress should be made on a post-2020 finance goal that should be significant more than the 2020 goal of US$100 billion per year in climate finance," the President said.

He said the efforts of developing countries to adapt to climate change with their own resources should also be recognised as a contribution to the global effort to address climate change.

The President said the continent must make progress on the Global Stocktake at the upcoming Bonn conference. The Global Stocktake, which has the objective of tracking commitments and progress in implementation, must inform parties' future NDCs.

“It should, therefore, take account of all the elements of climate action, namely mitigation, adaptation and the means of implementation."

President Zuma said it is important for the Africa Group, particularly in the time of global uncertainty, to emphasise adherence to the principles of the Convention, in particular the common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities, equity and the need for developed countries to take the lead in combatting climate change.

Those principles, he said, remain applicable to the Paris Agreement.

"The Africa Group should not allow any renegotiation of the Paris Agreement. It was a landmark achievement of the international community. It presents us with the best vehicle to address climate change, which is a monumental challenge of our time, in a manner that is fair and that takes into account countries' national circumstances.”

President Zuma said climate change poses both a threat and opportunity to development. "The pursuit of a low-carbon and climate resilient development opens up opportunities for not only achieving our development goals, but also achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the goals set out in Agenda 2063."

Investing in energy infrastructure

President Zuma said infrastructure investment is also key to development, and the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) provides a blue print for such collaboration. The Africa group must therefore explore the appropriate blend of public, multilateral and private finance to accelerate investment.

The President said renewable energy investment, as part of an energy mix, provides an investment opportunity in Africa's electricity sector.

"The African Renewable Energy Initiative and the Africa Adaptation Initiative should focus on identified synergies and funding opportunities, while encouraging best practise sharing, peer learning and tapping into technical skills available on the continent.

"We should also focus on building partnerships with the aim of building capacity in low-carbon planning and improving the relevant institutions in the energy, transport and the water sectors. We should also exploit opportunities in solar and wind power as well as gas, hydro, biofuels as alternatives energy sources," the President said.

He said Africa's continental strategies should be based on long-term adaptation scenarios so that Africa's natural resources can be optimally used in development.

- SAnews.gov.za