The core business of climate negotiations officially opened today, Monday 3 December, in the heart of the Silesia region of southern Poland. At the Katowice Conference Centre, more than 20,000 people all over the world are expected to gather to push for effective climate deal
Symbolically, the climate summit was officially launched on 2 December by Frank Bainimarama, former Prime Minister of Fiji and Chair of COP23, MichałKurtyka, Secretary of State in the Polish Ministry of Energy and Chair-Designate of COP24, and Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
There is a remarkable level of expectation at COP24. Stakeholders expect this year's climate talks to rekindle the momentum around climate finance and commitment to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.It is a case, no less, of agreeing on the ways and means to give the Paris Agreement real force (interview with SeyniNafo here), so that the commitments made do not remain a forlorn hope.
The day started with the "high-level segment" attended by Heads of State and Government as well as plenary sessions
If this COP resonates less with the general public than, for example, COP21 in Paris, which led to the historic signing of the Paris Agreement, this is because it is much more technical, or even technocratic.And this is why it is so crucial.
Developed countries have pledged to increase climate finaning for developing countries to $100 billion by 2020. Developing countries, including the 54 African countries, are expecting clearer commitments on this financing promise from the advanced countries.
And yet, only about 30 Heads of State and Government, essentially from Africa, the European Union and Small Island States made the journey to Katowice for the opening of COP24.The presidents of Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Botswana, Mauritania and Congo, for example, are present in this climate talks. On the other hand, none of the leaders of the G20 member states, who are responsible for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, seem to have listed Katowice as a priority on its diplomatic agenda
General feeling of climate emergency
The world is at a crossroads. The reality of climate change is clear and its impact increasingly being felt in various ways. .
In early October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published an alarming report, which reveals that at the current rate of warming, the 1.5 C threshold will be breached between 2030 and 2052.
In mid-November, a study published in Nature Climate Change modelled the extreme concurrent disasters to which humanity will be exposed by 2100, if we fail to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
On the eve of the opening of COP24, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reiterated that"if current trends in the concentration of greenhouse gases continue, the average surface temperature of the globe is set to increase by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by the end of the twenty-first century".
Such scenarios do not bode well for Africa, which is bearing thebrunt of the effects of climate change. In other words, Africa needs to unite all its advocacy efforts and strength to fight climate change and counter its effects.
Africa Day: African momentum intensies around action against climate
The first day of COP24 marks the holding of Africa Day, a joint initiative of the African Development Bank (AfDB), The African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). This year's Africa Day theme is: "The Africa NDC Hub: Going further and faster with NDC implementation in support of Agenda 2063".
Currently about 90% of African countries - 49 out of 54 - have ratified their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This affirms the continent's awareness and increasing commitment to the fight against climate change.
The urgency of climate risk, particularly to Africa's transformation, points to another urgent matter: taking action and quickly. This is fundamental to building an Africa that is resilient, green and prosperous.