African leaders on Tuesday rallied in a virtual summit calling for scaled-up actions and financing to combat the effects of climate change, which are already being felt on the continent of 1.3 billion people.
The Leaders’ Dialogue on the Africa COVID-Climate Emergency saw representatives discussing the twin challenges of facing the COVID-19 pandemic alongside climate change.
“Africa remains a continent with immense opportunities if we act now to contain the pandemic, deal with the serious debt burdens and work on plans and tools to tackle climate change,” WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said.
Presidents from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Kenya and other countries talked about the need for support to accelerate efforts against climate change.
“Africa contributed just 3 percent of global emissions, yet we are the continent which ... is already paying the biggest price,” Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba said.
“Every day, the thunderstorms seem more violent, flooding is more frequent and droughts more severe ... our crops are failing. People are being forced to flee their homes, becoming climate refugees,” he added. “Sea levels are rising, potentially drowning cities ... The oceans are turning to acid and salt is penetrating croplands, causing further serious challenges to food security.”
African Development Bank Group president Akinwumi Adesina said that developed nations have a responsibility to support those in Africa, as it is the lowest emitter of carbon, but faces the worst consequences of climate change.
“Ten of the top 12 countries most at risk of drought are in Africa. Eight out of the top 12 countries affected by agricultural risks are also in Africa,” he said. “Yet Africa does not get the resources it needs to adapt to climate change. Globally, only 10 percent of climate finance goes into adaptation, and Africa has received only 3 percent of global climate finance.”
He said the bank’s goal is to mobilize US$25 billion for climate adaptation over the next four years.
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