Full Speech: Read PM Abiy’s Message at COP27

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Thursday delivered at the UN 27th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change, known as COP27. The Summit is being held in Egypt’s city of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Here’s the full speech

“From the outset, I would like to express my gratitude to His Excellency Mr. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, for inviting me to participate in the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Implementation Summit and for the warm hospitality accorded to me and my delegation since our arrival in the beautiful city of Sharm El-Sheikh.

I would also like to congratulate the government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and its people for their successful hosting of COP27.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Climate change is a constant source of concern for the global community. East Africa has suffered repeated droughts and floods. Ethiopia is in the eye of the storm.

Nonetheless, we are transforming our difficulties into opportunities. We are strengthening our people’s resilience and safeguarding our natural resources, all while working to provide reliable, accessible, and affordable renewable energy to our citizens and the region.

We have made rapid and significant progress in combating climate change through ambitious climate action and a green pathway for growth and prosperity in three key areas. These include afforestation, reforestation, and green legacy; ensuring food sovereignty; and transitioning to green energy.

These are critical topics of discussion under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that are part of the African climate agenda.

Ethiopia’s position is consistent with the collective interests and statements of the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), as well as the Group of 77 and China coalition, in order to build a stronger joint negotiating capacity at the United Nations on climate change issues.

Our ten-year development plan is anchored on building a climate resilient green economy as one of its key pillars. Ethiopia has submitted its ambitious updated nationally determined contribution (NDC), which incorporates mitigation and adaptation interventions and is well aligned with the Paris Agreement’s long-term 1.5-degree Celsius target.

Ethiopia has also prepared its Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy (LT-LEDS) in accordance with the Paris Agreement, with the goal of putting Ethiopia on a path to net-zero emissions by 2050. This long-term strategy will be unveiled at COP27.

On the afforestation, reforestation, and the Green Legacy:

We are all in agreement that protecting our natural capital is an essential component of the climate agenda. Restoring natural land and forests reduces greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

Ethiopia’s Green Legacy is a proud contribution to this effort that complements our nationally determined contributions.

Four years into the Green Legacy Initiative’s implementation, we have planted 25 billion seedlings, which equates to 250 seedlings per Ethiopian. The impact could be equivalent to removing 64 million gasoline-powered vehicles from the road for an entire year.

The Green Legacy Initiative is now the most extensive afforestation and reforestation program in the world, second only to the Amazon. Ethiopia has also put over 700,000 hectares of existing biodiversity and carbon-rich natural forests under a sustainable participatory forest management scheme, in addition to tree planting afforestation and reforestation efforts.

The Green Legacy has fostered a flourishing national green culture, tripling the number of nurseries to over 120,000, and seedlings have been shared with neighboring countries to strengthen regional cooperation for transboundary ecosystem management.

Our Green Legacy Initiative will undoubtedly help to remove hundreds of millions of tons of Carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere and reduce deforestation, implying Ethiopia’s significant contribution to global climate change mitigation efforts.

Ethiopia’s tangible contribution to the overall afforestation and reforestation pledge is impressive by any standard, but it is even more impressive when it is funded primarily through domestic resources and efforts.

Ethiopia plans to restore an additional 22 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, building on its previous success. In addition, we are creating a green fund and will pursue carbon trading schemes to help raise additional funds.

On the loss and damage, and building resilience through ascertaining food sovereignty:

Despite the fact that Ethiopia is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, seasonal food insecurity is a persistent challenge.

We have successfully demonstrated in recent years that it is possible to build resilience while also protecting people’s livelihoods. With the Green Legacy, 1 in 50 seedlings is set to improve food security and income generation. In addition, 500 million plants are fruit-bearing, producing Papayas, Mangoes, and Avocadoes.

Ethiopia’s wheat production program has also been a success this year. During the dry season, the climate SMART irrigation system produced approximately 2.5 million tons of wheat. We intend to cultivate 2 million hectares during the dry season alone in 2023, paving the way for food self-sufficiency and wheat export the following year.

My government is committed to developing climate-resilient regenerative agriculture and food system transformations that will increase food production, promote health and nutrition, safeguard our valuable land and natural resources, and protect the most vulnerable communities.

Finally, on the green energy transition:

Ethiopia seized the opportunity to capitalize on its substantial renewable energy potential. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is expected to be a vital source of energy for the country and region. Despite Ethiopia’s significant renewable energy potential and substantial generation and transmission infrastructure, the country’s electricity access rate remains below 50%.

We are working hard to diversify and expand the energy mix to include other renewable energy sources such as geothermal, wind, and solar, with the goal of achieving universal access by 2030 through on-grid and off-grid technologies.

In the spirit of advancing partnership and collaboration, Ethiopia has been exporting green energy sources to neighboring countries, demonstrating our commitment to connecting countries through the East African Power Pool’s emerging interconnected grid.

Ladies and gentlemen,

COP 27, the African COP, is an excellent opportunity for Africa to express our collective stance.

Africa is the most vulnerable to climate change, while accounting for less than 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and approximately 17% of total global population. Nonetheless, Africa receives less than 5% of the world’s climate fund, which is mainly in debt. Combating climate change requires a collaborative effort and adequate funding.

While we are proud of our achievements and are meeting our nationally determined targets, there is still work to be done to protect our people and the environment. Ethiopia is, indeed, in the eye of the storm. Climate change could push more than 100 million people into poverty by 2030 if appropriate adaptation measures are not taken. Ethiopia is near the bottom of the carbon emissions scale, but it is disproportionately vulnerable to climate change.

Eight out of ten Ethiopians live in rural areas and rely on erratic rain-fed subsistence farming. Those who have made the least contribution to climate change suffer the most. These inequities cannot persist.

Our home-grown economic reform program is putting the necessary investment conditions to attract more private and concessional climate financing. Nonetheless, concessional funding is required to scale our successes in proportion to the growing challenges.

Increased funding must reflect the magnitude of Africa’s challenge. Countries must honor their climate pledges, provide the necessary financing, and address the outstanding issues of loss and damage and the carbon trading mechanism in ways that allow for faster results.

It is past time to address the growing financial and technological needs. Pledges must be translated into new resources and support. The time to avert the worst effects of the climate crisis is running out. We must now scale up our efforts.

Ethiopia’s climate-conscious actions, green legacy, food sovereignty, and green energy, hopefully, will promote regional diplomacy inspiring more nations on the continent and beyond.

I hope that at COP27, we can work together to accelerate implementation. Africa demands progress for its people and the planet.”