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Africa

World Bank demands climate justice for Africa at Cop21

media Word Bank president Jim Yong Kim World Bank

The Cop21 conference in Paris is crunch time for world leaders to reach a binding climate deal that would halt climate change and stop what scientists call a collision course with nature. Africa is likely to pay a heavy price for global warming, despite having contributed little to its growth and the World Bank and other international organisations want climate justice for the continent.

“We want to make sure Africa is not forgotten at the Paris Cop21,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim told RFI. “Africans had the least responsibility for putting carbon in the air and yet they’re feeling the brunt of climate change."

The World Bank this week unveiled an ambitious Africa Climate Business Plan designed to help poor countries mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Africa has already been at the receiving end, experiencing droughts, rising sea levels and changing weather patterns that scientists say are linked to El Nino storms from the Pacific Ocean. The waxing and waning of rainfall across sub-Saharan Africa has devastated harvests and led to food shortages.

Without climate resilience, says the World Bank, an additional 43 million people could fall into extreme poverty by 2030.

“Forty per cent of land in Mozambique for instance will no longer be cultivable,” warns Kim.

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The World Bank proposes to lift African governments out of this climate poverty by refocusing their environmental policies on renewable energy.

“A country like the Democratic Republic of Congo has enormous hydropower possibilities through the Congo River,” says President Kim, who points out that the Bank has created "all weather roads" for vulnerable countries.

Yet this blueprint for climate change mitigation—meant to start the day after a Paris climate agreement—has a cost. Sixteen billion dollars (15 billion euros).

The World Bank pledges to raise at least a third of the cost, roughly 5.7 billion dollars (5.3 billion euros).

The rest of the money needs to be levied from various climate finance instruments.

Finance has long been a major stumbling block to climate change discussions, as it notably was during Cop15 in Copenhagen. Currently, a green climate fund set up to help poor countries adapt to climate change remains cruelly underfunded.

For the World Bank president, climate financing is gaining traction: “At our annual meetings in Lima Peru this year, we pledged 29 billion by 2020 to help fight climate change in developing countries and many other multilateral development banks and donors have also stepped up.”

In recent days, there have been some signs of a breakthrough, with Commonwealth nations pledging more funding to poor nations.

If hopes are high this time round that the debates and discussions will come to more tangible and ambitious targets than its predecessors, it’s because the world’s biggest emitters have already made their commitments clear in advance.

Will they be far-reaching enough to keep global warming to under 2.0°C above pre-industrial revolution levels?

It’s still too early to tell. But the context in which world leaders are meeting in Paris, so soon after the 13 November terror attacks, may inspire more commitment from their part, if only out of solidarity with the French people.

“A lot of climate change is about justice,” Kim continues, “African governments should not continue to ask their people to live in poverty while industrialised countries continue to put carbon in the air, we’ve got to find a path towards robust growth that protects people from the ravaging effects of climate change. It’s a moral issue."

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