Maputo — The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday unanimously ratified the Paris agreement on climate change.
The agreement was negotiated by representatives of 196 countries at the 21st conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, and agreed by consensus in December 2015.
The agreement seeks to respond to the threats posed by climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century to below two degrees Celsius, and to pursue efforts to limit the rise still further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
But there are no binding targets, and no mechanisms to force countries to stick to the targets which they individually plan. Those “nationally determined contributions” to reducing climate change are supposed to be “ambitious”, and will be reported to the UNFCCC Secretariat every five years. The accord enshrines the principle of “progression” - that is, each five yearly contribution should be more ambitious than the preceding one.
But the only form of coercion is moral: countries that fail to meet their own contributions can be named and shamed, but no punitive measures are envisaged.
Despite the toothlessness of the agreement, it was anathema to the Trump administration in the United States, which announced that it was pulling out of the agreement in June - a move which met with near universal condemnation from the rest of the world.
In their five yearly reports, developing countries may include information on the means of implementation they require for actions to mitigate or adapt to climate change, and on the support they have already received.
Mozambique is extremely vulnerable to climate change. It would only take a fairly small rise in sea level (caused by such factors as the melting of the polar ice caps, and the thermal expansion of water as the temperature rises) to inundate much of the Mozambican coastal plain and threaten coastal cities such as Beira and Quelimane.
The Assembly also unanimously ratified the African Union Convention on protection and assistance for internally displaced people on the continent (also known as the Kampala Convention).
This convention seeks to “promote and strengthen regional and national measures to prevent or mitigate, prohibit and eliminate root causes of internal displacement as well as provide for durable solutions”.
It aims to set up “a legal framework for preventing internal displacement and protecting and assisting internally displaced persons in Africa”.
Introducing the motion to ratify the Convention, Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi said it “demonstrates the importance of the defence of human rights and of the protection of people forcibly displaced”.
The African Union, he said, “stresses the importance that African states should dedicate to unity and solidarity”.