The Key Outcomes of COP24 & Context for Africa


By Ashvin Ramasamy

Going into Katowice, the site of the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the stakes were high for all signatory Parties of the Paris Accord, in December 2018. All attention was centred on the 300+ page draft document containing an arsenal of measures aimed at ultimately keeping the global rise of temperature below 2 C and at 1.5 C. This includes Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and a transparent system for reporting on level of government action towards climate goals (i.e., ambition and support). In short, a resounding agreement on operational ways to put in motion the 2015 Paris Accord was needed by discussing the recommendations of the IPCC special report on 1.5 C — specially formulated for the event.

Key General Outcomes

● Parties agreed on the guidelines for implementing the Rulebook by 2020, marking an important win in tough seesaw negotiations for how the Paris Accord will operate — including measures taken to ensure strong emission target goals are enshrined in NDCs
● The IPCC special report on 1.5C was meant to guide negotiations with solid evidence but was somewhat contested by different sides over elements of implementation as well as suffering general rejection by some of the largest oil producers, namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia and the United States
● NGOs voiced their frustration over the lack of forceful language in committing to impactful climate change action pre-2020
● A new climate regime was adopted, requiring all Parties to produce clear, transparent information on emissions as of 2024, including plans to reduce emissions, every two years
● With respect to the low-carbon economy, the Declaration on Just Transition was signed by a meager 50 Heads of States (out of potentially 200) in an concerted effort to bring additional support for public policies & social security programmes for the phasing out of carbon-rich industries

African Interests

● Throughout the two-week conference, the African Development Bank (AFB) stood firm as the leading representative of African interests
– AFB lead 50 panel discussions on policy areas affected by climate change across the African continent — such as agriculture, water, urban development — and was applauded by a group of experts who echoed similar views on those sectors
● Africa Day proved to be successful in garnering much attention across many events, including the closing event highlighting the youth in their hopes to make transformative change in the face of a rapidly changing climate
● Gabon, Togo, Egypt and Mali signed the Declaration Driving Change Together – Katowice Partnership For Electromobility as the sole African countries to this day agreeing to electromobility and zero-emission transport to help curb the transport sector’s 14% share of global greenhouse gas emissions
● The limited development of “loss and damage” for developing nations, especially vulnerable countries in Africa, meant a absence of mechanisms to finance loss and damage resulting from climate change effects
● Bolder plans are needed to ensure that NDCs reflect the trajectory of the 2 C and/or the 1.5 C targets — which will take center stage at the climate summit in 2019 in New York

Climate Finance: African Needs

● On the first day of the COP, the World Bank announced positive news, doubling its climate finance, putting $200 billion (€176 billion) towards climate finance in the coming five years for developing countries
– A significant portion will go towards adaptation and resilience projects,    action desperately needed in many African countries
● The Green Climate Fund, playing an integral role in the financing arm of the UNFCCC, benefitted from larger endowment from two key actors
– Germany announced a doubling of its contribution to the GCF, amounting to approximately 1.5 billion Euros
– Norway echoed the German announcement with promise to double its own commitment to the GCF
● The finance mechanism origin dates back to 2009 when a 100-billion/year fund was announced to support developing countries, but nine years later the total contribution represents but a fraction of the actual funding needs
● Evidence put forward by NGOs on “watering down” the definition of climate finance at the COP puts at risk the trust of developing countries in following rounds of negotiations for long term financing

Talanoa Dialogue

The Talanoa Dialogue represents the foremost piece of communication for bringing the parties closer to the Paris Agreement — underpinned by an inclusive, transparent and participatory decision-making process. The parties sounded the alarm at COP 24, stating that current climate action is not sufficient and that the world is witnessing a shrinking of an already tight window to curb global warming.

● Unanimous praise for supporting the Paris Agreement and the ambitious goal to limit global temperature to 1.5 was heard throughout the COP and echoed by various voices
● The collective voice underscored shared values for energy efficiency, health land and water, carbon sinks, clean air and resilient ecosystems
● Political leadership must continue to lead the charge and climate change must figure in high-level agendas; to stimulate other stakeholders in pursuing zero emission technologies and resilience methods is key
● The parties called upon the private sector actors to take on the leadership role in the fight against climate change by setting sustainability goals, backed by science targets and transition measures and spur innovation in their fields and supply chains