Climate Change Conference Kicks off in Ethiopia with Urgent calls for Action

ADDIS ABEBA – The eighth edition of the Climate Change and Development in Africa Conference (CCDA-8) opened in Addis Ababa with strong calls to reverse the current lackluster approach to implementing the Paris Agreement and tackle climate change.

The special CCDA is being held ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit to be held on the 23rd of September 2019 during the General Assembly, under a theme: Stepping Up Climate Action for a Resilient Africa: a Race We Can and Must Win”.

Africans are now expressing their frustration over the lack of actions to tackle climate change internationally.

Many African countries have submitted ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions to Climate Action (NDCs), said Ethiopia’s Frehiwot Woldehanna, State Minister for Energy Sector, Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy in his opening remarks on Wednesday.

It shows “that African leaders have made strong commitments to tackle climate change while striving to meet their national development agendas”, he said.

Ethiopia, whose electricity system is dominated by hydropower was one of the first countries to submit its NDC leading up to the Paris Agreement and was one of the first countries to ratify the agreement.

Furthermore, the Climate Action Summit is being organized under nine action areas, one of which is the energy transition being led by Denmark and Ethiopia.

Yet, despite the efforts on the ground, climate-induced frequent and more intense droughts “are putting our energy security and reliability at risk, with significant economic and social impacts”, said the state Minister.

Without urgent action to tackle climate change Africa will not meet the targets of the other sustainable development goals, he said.

“As countries raise their climate ambition, we must remember the fundamental principle of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which calls for wide cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions,” he said.

CCDA is a flagship event of the ClimDev-Africa program, and is a joint initiative of ECA, the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank, mandated by African Heads of State to foster a common and coordinated response to climate change throughout the continent.

Aida Opoku-Mensah, Chief of Staff at ECA, noted that Africa contributes the least to global emissions but is already suffering the most adverse impacts of climate change.

“The Continent contributes under 6% of emissions, with per capita emissions of only 0.8 tons per year, well below the global mean of 5 tons, and far lower than for other regions such as Europe and Asia,” she said.

She also indicated that this special CCDA is being held ahead of the forthcoming Climate Action Summit which is calling for urgent and concerted global action to fight climate change.

“This is a last wake-up call to all countries to raise their game and step up climate action for multiple social, economic and environmental wins,” she stressed.