President Kenyatta takes over as chair of AU Climate Change committee

“To achieve the expected results for Africa at COP27, it is imperative that we develop a strong and well-coordinated Common African Position, and that we formulate a set...

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has been named the new chairperson for the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC).

Kenya’s State House made the announcement on Twitter on the last day of the 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Mr Kenyatta takes on the mantle as chairperson from South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa who, in his virtual congratulatory message, said Kenya is up to the task for being “a leading voice on issues of climate change in Africa”.

Kenya, under President Kenyatta’s tenure, is one of the African countries that has submitted an update of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as a requirement by the Paris Agreement to show individual country effort on climate action.

COP27

The appointment is ahead of the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) that will be held in Egypt later this year.

“To achieve the expected results for Africa at COP27, it is imperative that we develop a strong and well-coordinated Common African Position, and that we formulate a set of robust key messages that encapsulate Africa’s aspirations,” said Mr Ramaphosa in a statement.

Already, the impact of climate change is alive in Africa as global warming is contributing to longer droughts, flooding and cyclones.

“Climate change impacts are costing African economies between three and five per cent of their gross domestic products (GDP). Despite not being responsible for causing climate change, it is Africans who are bearing both the brunt and the cost,” Mr Ramaphosa said in his speech.

“Much more work needs to be done for Africa and the world to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. It is still of concern that the necessary financial flows to enable developing economy countries in particular to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change remain vastly inadequate,” he added.

Africa did not reap big in the previous COP26 as its demands – climate finance, funding for adaptation, and emission cuts from major emitters of greenhouse gases – were not fully met in the Glasgow Pact.

Climate agenda

Fatuma Hussein, Programme Manager at Power Shift Africa and one of the negotiators for COP, said that since Africa did not reap big from COP26, having President Kenyatta at the top seat is a plus to push the African Climate agenda forward. 

“This is an opportunity to rebalance the COP27 agenda with concrete and actionable steps to addressing the priorities and needs of Africa…We must correct the failures of COP26 in Sharm El-Sheikh and make an international regime, one that is fit for all countries, North and South, rich and poor. Africa, and CAHOSCC in particular, has played a crucial role in shaping the outcome and creating space for the correct priorities,” she said.

“We can play our cards to ensure that COP delivers for Africa and the world. The President has a duty to seize this moment and lay the basis for a successful COP 27,” said Ms Hussein.

She suggested that at COP27, Africa should focus on energy transition, scaling up adaptation measures and climate finance, and addressing loss and damage.

At the COP27, “we should recognise Africa’s special circumstances under the Paris Agreement and launch work programme on the same,” Ms Hussein added.

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