WHAT IS COP26?
COP26 (Conference of the Parties) was held in Glasgow, Scotland, from 31st October to 12 November 2021. It is an international conference organised by the United Nations, attempting to reach a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is to limit the effects of human-caused climate change. It was attended by representatives of national governments, civil society organisations, and businesses.
Representatives from a range of African countries attended the conference, including Felix Tshisekedi, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo and chair of the African Union. In addition, there were numerous initiatives for African delegates to work together at the conference. For example, 54 African countries form the “African Group of Negotiators”, which has been an influential voice at past conferences.
Some African activists complained that COVID restrictions and the cost of travel did not enable them to attend the conference; which reduced African representation. For example, the Nigerian activist Goodness Dickson was unable to pay the $4,000 costs for plane tickets and a hotel.
A FAIR DEAL FOR AFRICA
Although climate change might only seem to be about the environment, it is also a question of political equity (fairness). Africa is one of the regions which will be most impacted by climate change. The African Union estimates that by 2030, Africa’s economic output might have fallen by as much as 15% due to extreme weather. Therefore, African countries want to limit global warming; otherwise flooding, droughts, storms and heat waves will get worsen.
However, African nations emit minimal greenhouse gases – only around 4% of global emissions – compared to developed countries. Therefore, some politicians and academics argue that it is unfair to make African countries reduce the amount of fossil fuels they use (gas, coal, and oil, which release greenhouse gases when they are burnt). This is because many African countries rely upon fossil fuels for their development: for example, generating electricity or transportation by car or plane. Some politicians even argue that developed countries should pay compensation (a payment to make up for wrongdoing) to African countries. This would be to reflect the damage that their greenhouse gas emissions are causing to Africa.