Climate conference comes to a close amid mumbles by poor countries


By Sarah Kimani

November 28, 2016

Also published by South African Broadcasting Corporation

The United Nations Climate conference came to a close on Friday, with leaders from more than 190 countries presenting a united front to back the Paris agreement, which seeks to tackle climate change blamed for prolonged droughts, rising sea levels and diseases.

The meeting agreed to complete the rulebook for the implementation of the 2015 Paris accord by December 2018.

While 48 developing countries most at risk of climate change pledged to shift to 100% renewable energy, poor countries were disappointed that the meeting failed to come up with a clear pronouncement on developed countries’ funding for initiatives to help them to adapt to the devastating effects of climate change.

After two weeks of intense debate and negotiations at the climate talks overshadowed by US President elect Donald Trump’s election victory, world leaders gathered in Morocco emerged to announce that they had agreed to back the Paris deal.

“It is not from one party, from one government, it is an overall national position, we are ready to stay the course, we are committed to stay the course and we are going to keep a watchful eye, not to let this process slip,” says Brazil's chief climate negotiator, Jose Antonio Marcondes de Carvalho.

Developing countries however felt short changed, they say although the final declaration reaffirms developed countries’ commitment to mobilise $100 billion, a lot of work will need to be put in over the next two years to get the funds flowing to help poor countries adapt to climate change. 

Delegates failed to agree on a work plan on agriculture that would have seen more assistance go to farmers in developing countries to practice smart agriculture which would among other things include having better seed varieties, fertilisers and access to timely climate information.

“ We are extremely concerned that the issue of agriculture has been negotiated for a long time, this being the 7th year, almost at the stage where we are thinking that we are almost concluding this matter, after parties had agreed to draft and redraft,” says Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa .

At least 70% of Africa’s smallholder farmers depend on rain fed agriculture. Molewa says failure by leaders to make progress will hurt African farmers the most.

“We continue to see countries being challenged in terms of food security, our farmers in various countries are realising very serious challenges due to climate change, droughts etc. It is for that reason that we actually appreciated in March, when each country raised it, and we do think that is important that this matter be taken up with the COP president because it is quite late to take up during this COP, agriculture is very important to us throughout the world.”

The Paris agreement is pushing for a target of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and closer to 1.5 degrees.