Climate inequalities in the balance
By Okey Umeano FCCA, chief economist at Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission
As COP27 approaches, governments must stay committed to change, despite global pressures
It’s that time again when the world gathers to discuss the effects of human activity on our dear old planet. The United Nations Climate Change Conference 2022 (COP27), which took place in November in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El Sheikh, came at a time when governments around the world may, understandably, be distracted from the commitments made last year. But the climate situation in Africa remains as pressing as ever.
Consider this sobering statistic: Lake Chad has shrunk by 90% since the 1960s, leading to the loss of livelihood for millions of farmers and herders, and to deadly conflicts as people fight for a share of what is left.
By locating the conference in Sharm El Sheikh, the UN has focused attention on the continent. If participants find time to go snorkelling or scuba diving, the coral reefs in the Red Sea will help bring home the need for committed environmental action.
Even though Africa contributes the least to environmental change, it suffers the greatest consequences, from biodiversity loss and the extreme effects of climate change to poverty, disease and death.
This knowledge has helped shape the agenda at COP27. The countries of the Global North have acknowledged with the creation of the ‘loss-and-damage’ mechanism that, as they earn hundreds of billions of dollars through harmful production practices, they impoverish millions of Africans who benefit little or not at all from that process.
Right the wrongs
This conference gave the world the chance to think through how to right these wrongs. Photo opportunities and impassioned speeches are not enough. The climate summit’s final text proved that governments can come together in solidarity and build trust.
African leaders were ready to fight their corner. As the industrialised nations continue to damage our planet, the continent’s forests – the earth’s lungs – play a vital part in converting huge amounts of carbon dioxide into oxygen. Africa must therefore continue to demand more compensation from the world’s greatest polluters to stop deforestation.
The world cannot continue to pay lip service to issues of climate change. Polluters must support cleaners to ensure that the adverse effects of human activity are minimised.
This article has been reproduced by ACCA’s member magazine Accounting and Business