The Position of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), a coalition of African Civil Society Organizations at the 18th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 8th Session of the Conference of Parties serving as the meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 8).
We converge in Doha at a time when evidence of climate change across our continent, in rural settlements and pastoral areas, in towns, on coastlines and deep in the heart of Africa is no longer a matter of speculation but a reality people are battling. Our rivers run dry. Our crops turn to dust. Seasons shift and change. The effects of climate change are reflected in the expectant eyes of hungry children, and in the lengthening footsteps of women carrying water.
Across Africa, a growing congregation of people suffers starvation and disease while others, after freeing themselves from the grip of grinding poverty, are shackled again by an increasingly hostile climate. It is a cruel irony that a people who have lived for so long in harmony with Mother Earth, imprinting the lightest of footprints, now suffer a crisis they did not cause.
We bear the burden of climate change; but they are not of our making. For over two centuries the industrialized world became wealthy by polluting the atmosphere. Wealthy countries and corporations plundered resources from every region of the world. On mountains of coal and oil they built cities of plenty. In the great buildings they constructed while causing the climate crisis they now shelter from its adverse effects. Those left outside are forced to find another path to prosperity, while the sun beats down, or a perfect storm – not of their making – gathers on the horizon.
The result is a spiraling set of crises now afflicting our world among which is climate change. Responsibility for the causes and consequences of climate change lies with this system. More than 70% of carbon dioxide from industrial sources was emitted by the 20% of people living in developed countries. Africa, home to around a billion people, contributed less than 4%.
Rather than addressing their historical responsibilities, these countries and corporations, along with a significant segment of the scientific community, have led us to focus on the symptoms of climate crisis and ignore its causes. We have focused on the fever while disregarding the disease: a system that has enabled a minority of the Earth’s people to appropriate the vast majority of its natural resources and material wealth, and that is organized around a logic of competition and commodification in pursuit of limitless growth on a finite planet.
The industrialized countries now seek to entrench and extend the current system of social and economic organization, and propose to allow temperatures to rise by up to 2 degrees globally, and to much higher levels in Africa, threatening the production of food for our families, the stability of our ecosystems and the viability of our jobs and livelihoods. And worse, in their actions and paltry commitments they in effect allow a catastrophic global warming of 3°C, 4°C, 5°C or even higher.
They seek to continue their excessive emissions, threatening our development and consuming an unfair share of the Earth’s atmospheric space. Their current proposals would enable the 20% of people living in developed countries to consume over 60% of the Earth’s carbon budget (historically to 2050) while the 80% who are poor would be consigned to live within the remaining 40%. This looting of common property, the atmospheric space by a handful people of wealthiest nations, while millions are starving does really need to be condemned. Through a global carbon market, they seek to enable their wealthiest investment firms and most polluting corporations to commodify the carbon in our soils, forests and other resources to create “carbon credits” that entitle them to increase their pollution, evading their responsibilities to cut their own emissions and provide public funds to developing countries.
To achieve their objectives, developed countries are seeking to end rather than implement the Kyoto Protocol, in violation of international law. They seek to dismantle the current UN climate regime and replace it with a weaker system of voluntary pledges. The so-called Copenhagen Accord, a document resulting from an un-transparent and undemocratic process in Copenhagen, and which the UN Climate Convention’s Secretariat confirmed does “not have any legal standing in the UNFCCC process even if some Parties decide to associate themselves with it”, has through questionable means in Cancun and Durban been increasingly incorporated into the formal processes.
The outcomes of the Durban negotiations threatens to leave a void for the crucial next decade with no binding, stringent commitments for emissions reductions by the rich countries, nor necessary financing and technology commitments. Furthermore, an open-ended mandate to negotiate a new instrument – the Durban platform – threatens to cement an unambitious pledge and review framework with no or little differentiation between developed and developing countries This would entrench the world on yet another decade of inaction, post-2020, which would guarantee disaster, not only for Africa but the whole world. Any new regime must be firmly rooted in equity and utterly ambitious in line with what science demands.
The rich countries, however, propose global goals that risk untold suffering in Africa, while offering insufficient emission reductions, and inadequate funding. Expectations are downgraded. Processes are delayed. Pressure is mounting on developing countries. Those who suffer the injustice of climate change are encouraged to be “constructive”, while those who caused it “divide and rule” through political pressure and the misuse of financial resources.
We, the people and organizations of Africa, believe that such an approach threatens not only Africa but all of humanity. We call for a fairer and more science-based solution to climate change that addresses the structural causes of climate change, not merely its symptoms; that promotes greater harmony among people and with nature; and that ensures respect for the human rights of all people and the rights of Mother Earth. We, as Africans, stand ready to play our part. But cooperation must be based on justice. Our future cannot be a subject of bargaining and our development cannot be sacrificed.
The outcomes to be agreed at the Doha climate negotiations must ensure that developed countries address their historical responsibilities and debts, while implementing the Kyoto Protocol (through the Kyoto Protocol track) and the Climate Convention (through the Bali Action Plan). As the basis of this approach, we call on developed countries to address their historical responsibilities and honor their climate debts to developing countries:
· We call on developed countries to acknowledge that they have already used more than a fair and sustainable share of the Earth’s atmospheric space. They must repay their debt through deep domestic emission reductions and by transferring the technology and finance required to enable us to follow a less polluting pathway, without compromising our development (an emissions debt).
· We call on developed countries to compensate us for the adverse effects of their excessive historical and current per-capita emissions, which are burdening us with rising climate-related costs and damages (an adaptation debt).
To advance the interests of Africa the outcome of the climate negotiations in Doha must at a minimum address the following demands:
1. Keep Africa safe. We recognize the need to minimize further loss and damage to Africa, and call for the blanket of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere to be returned to well below 300ppm CO2eq and warming to be limited to well below 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with the objective of returning to pre-industrial levels in the longer term. Even warming of this level globally risks warming of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius in Africa, dangerous interference with our climate, and loss and damage requiring compensation. We oppose a goal of “less than 2 degrees Celsius” as condemning Africa to incineration and to no modern development.
2. Secure food Security. We recognize the grave risk posed by climate change to our food security, and to the lives and livelihoods of our farmers and rural poor communities, and call for atmospheric concentrations to be stabilized in a time frame that safeguards food production, allows our agricultural and ecological systems to adapt naturally, and safeguards our jobs and economic development.
3. Share the atmosphere fairly. We emphasize our right to achieve sustainable development making use of a fair share of the Earth’s global commons and resources, and call for the carbon budget required to return to well below 300ppm CO2eq to be shared fairly with Africa taking into account the accumulative historical use of these resources by developed countries and the finance and technology transfers made available to developing countries.
4. Rich countries to cut excessive consumption and pollution. We recognize that current atmospheric concentrations are principally the result of historical emissions of greenhouse gases, the largest share of which originated in developed country Parties, and we call on developed countries honor their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and curb the growth of their emission debt by reducing their emissions by more than 50% by 2017 and by more than 100% well before 2050, against a base year of 1990 levels. We call on the United States to ratify the Kyoto Protocol or adopt comparable commitments under the Climate Convention. We oppose any effort by developed countries to appropriate Africa’s fair share of atmospheric space or to create carbon markets to buy a further share.
5. Protect and compensate affected communities. Developed countries’ historical emissions are driving current and committed warming and its adverse effects on Africa. The impacts and costs of climate change have been grossly underestimated. Damage from disasters, droughts and other adverse effects in Africa are rising rapidly. To limit and repay their adaptation debts, developed countries must compensate Africa for the full costs of: 1) avoiding harms (where possible); 2) actual harm and damage; and 3) lost opportunities for our development. We oppose any effort to establish adaptation as an obligation not a right, or to use adaptation as a means to divide or differentiate between developing countries.
6. Polluter not poor pays. Developed countries have prospered through “cheap carbon” growth while externalizing their costs to the atmosphere and to developing countries. The costs are now born by Africa, as we mitigate and adapt to a crisis we played little role in causing. To avert a climate catastrophe and enable mitigation, adaptation and technology transfer to developing countries, developed countries must make available financing of more than 1.5% of their GDP. We oppose efforts to shift the burden of financing away from developed countries and towards developing countries or the market. We oppose the creation of “unsupported” or “market” NAMAs (actions) as inconsistent with the Convention.
7. Transfer the tools to adapt and develop. Curbing global emissions within a decade requires technology transfers on a scale never before considered. We need a Marshall Plan for Africa and for the Earth. Developed countries must remove intellectual property rights, pay “full incremental costs” of technology transfer to protect developing countries and contribute for peaking and declining of global emissions. As stated in the Convention, the extent of developing countries’ implementation depends on developed countries’ implementation of financing and technology. We oppose efforts to sell rather than transfer technologies, or to strengthen rather than relax Intellectual property rights.
8. Fair not false solutions. We oppose the use of false and unfair measures by developed countries. They must not shift burdens to developing countries, or seek to “divide and rule” the countries of the South, or to penalize developing countries through trade or other measures. We oppose the creation of global carbon markets or sectoral trading mechanisms, by which the developed countries will take more of Africa’s rightful share of atmospheric space.
9. Systems change not climate change. Recognizing the structural causes of the present crisis, and that the climate crisis will not be solved with the same level of thinking that created it, we call for a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. We believe that to balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings. We call for fundamental change to the current system of social and economic organization and call for a new order building on the wisdom of our civilizations to live well and to live in harmony with Mother Earth.
10. Defend democracy. We affirm that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) constitutes the fundamental legal framework on climate change and call for the establishment of effective and accountable institutions under the Conference of Parties. We oppose the removal of decision-making away from our elected representatives into unaccountable institutions at the regional or international level. And we oppose efforts to extend the role of the World Bank, Global Environment Facility or other donor-driven institutions. We call for a response to the climate crisis that is of the people, by the people and for the people.
The response to the climate crisis must advance Africa’s interests. Africa must sign no suicide pact in Doha. Our longer-term interests must under no circumstances be sacrificed to short-term financing or to “beggar thy neighbor” outcomes that pursue the interests of some developing countries at the expense of others.
We call on Governments to end years of delay and meet their moral, historical and legal obligations, and urge all movements, peoples organizations, civil society groups and all concerned citizens to come together in a global campaign on climate justice. We will stand in solidarity with the leaders of any nation who seek a solution to climate change that is founded on justice, builds on the best available science, and ensures the well-being of Africans and other peoples and countries.
For further enquiries please contact:
PACJA Continental Secretariat
Tel: +254 020875808, +974433445723