The African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN) meeting in the Egyptian resort city of Sharma El Sheikh have reiterated Africa’s stand against 26th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) holding virtually. Instead, they stated it is “either a physical Climate Summit or none at all for Africa”.
A Statement by the Republic of Gabon on behalf of the African Group at the Opening Plenary of the 52nd Session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) said while the teleconference products can offer collaborative workspaces for hundreds or even thousands of participants, for Africa, the question is whether it is desirable.
“Africa Group is of the view that a physical meeting is the only way to achieve concrete outcome under the UNFCCC negotiation formats. The virtual formats are challenging due to the time difference, the mode of interaction, the quality of connection and sustainability. The reality is that the virtual setting has proven to be very difficult, not only because of the technical problems of connection but, more importantly, to ensure facilitated discussion,” said the statement by Gabon.
The AGN urged the COP Presidencies, SBs Chairs, and all Parties to ensure that the working arrangements, including the informal consultations, are inclusive and transparent. All views, inputs and concerns of Parties must be taken into account during this session.
Speaking virtually during the opening session of the meeting, Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) lauded AGN’s innovative way of SBI engagement, noting that Africa is bogged down by inconsistent energy supply, poor internet connectivity, and near obsolete gadgets that are hugely inadequate in facilitating effective participation in such a decisive conference where key decisions with cross generational implications are to be arrived at. “We stand in solidarity with the AGN for resisting virtual UNFCCC-COPs and key meetings which will clearly disadvantage African and global South Parties,” he said, citing this as an issue of procedural justice.
According to the participants at the AGN meeting, while Africa stands in solidarity with the world over COVID-19, and stresses the need for action to bring down the viral disease that has almost brought the world to a standstill, the negotiators however are of the view that holding COP 26 virtually would be a continuation of the marginalization of the continent and tantamount to deliberate attempts by the west to perpetuate climate injustice.
The African Group of Negotiators meeting is taking place ahead of the 52nd Session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) which, according to the Chair, aims to maximize progress, to minimize delays and to capitalize for Glasgow”.
During the opening ceremony this afternoon, Toni Mpanu Mpanu who is the chair, SBSTA emphasized the participation of civil society observers in all sessions.
The SBSTA is one of two permanent subsidiary bodies to the Convention established by the COP/CMP. It supports the work of the COP, the CMP and the CMA through the provision of timely information and advice on scientific and technological matters as they relate to the Convention, its Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.
Key areas of work for the SBSTA include the impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, promoting the development and transfer of environmentally-sound technologies and conducting technical work to improve the guidelines for preparing and reviewing greenhouse gas emission inventories from Annex I Parties
That notwithstanding, the draft provisional agendas and informal notes captured at this session will guide the work towards COP26 and define the working arrangement of SBs Chairs.
The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance will keep tract on what is taking place to prepare African CSOs ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference COP 26 in Glasgow in November.