Q. What were your expectations when going to COP26?

A. As the civil society in Malawi, but also as the civil society in Africa, we had several expectations when going to the COP26. Some of the expectations were that we were going to have discussions, or advance discussions, on issues to do with climate change financing, particularly looking at how as countries we need to advance the discussion on setting up a new goal for climate financing beyond the previous goal of US$100 billion per year by 2020. 

The other expectation was that we were going to discuss and come up with a clear road map on how developed countries are going to mobilise the US$100 billion per year financing to support climate change adaptation in developing countries considering that they have failed to meet the 2020 target. 

We were also anticipating that we were going to have advanced discussions on the Global Goal on Adaptation which was established to increase the status of – and financial flows to – countries’ adaptation activities, but its discussion has always lagged behind in the previous climate summits. Furthermore, we were also expecting to advance discussions around loss and damage, particularly advancing the setting up of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage but also making sure that we advance talks around financing loss and damage. All these discussions were supposed to actually come up with concrete decisions. 

Women prepare food at an emergency camp in Chikwawa District, Malawi after being rendered homeless by flooding caused by Cyclone Idai in March 2019. Climate change due to CO2 emissions released elsewhere usually leads to loss and damage of people’s lives and livelihoods in Africa. Picture Credit: Mercy Malikwa

Of course, aside these key expectations were other issues such as climate change and gender, technology and development transfer, capacity building and also issues to do with Article 6 which we were also anticipating that COP26 was going to take into consideration. We thought these issues were going to be discussed and clear decisions and agreements were going to be made. 

However, it is sad to say that we were left frustrated by the discussions because most of these expectations were not met. Talks were advanced in terms of setting up the new climate financing goal, but I think we were not able to come up with a clear road map on how we are going to define the new climate finance goal and we were not able to outline the different elements that are going to be considered as we are defining the goal. We did not also advance the talks on how to mobilise the US$100 billion by 2020 financing that was promised by developed countries and there was no clear roadmap on how this is going to be mobilised. Although the timeframe was set to until 2025, but there was no roadmap regarding how this is going to be mobilised. It was a very difficult discussion on loss and damage and clearly there was nothing that was agreed on how we are going to support this element. 

Q. What are your sentiments on the US$413 million pledge made at the conference by 12 donor governments in aid of 46 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) most at risk of effects of climate change?

A. It is commendable that these governments decided to provide such an amount to support the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). This is one of the funds that is directly supporting the least developing countries in terms of managing climate change and particularly on issues to do with adaptation. We would actually support or commend any other country that would come in to pump in more resources to the LDCF so that at least we get cushioned from the lack of financing or for lack of adequate finances that are provided through other multilateral funding mechanisms. 

However, I think we still need to lobby that countries need to do more in terms of supporting the LDCF. We need more resources because our needs and priorities are actually huge in terms of making sure that we adapt to the impacts of climate change. We need billions of money as Africa, but also billions as LDCs in terms of managing adaptation alone, and US$413 million is just a drop in the ocean. We still need these 12 governments to offer more resources and that other governments should join to provide more resources to the LDCF. 

Q. Why does climate financing matter for African countries?

A. Climate change for Africa and LDCs is a matter of survival. This is a situation that we have not contributed to so much in terms of its development, but we are suffering so much in terms of the impacts. But also, our capacities are very low in terms of trying to address the impacts of climate change. Either way, even to mitigate, we still do not have that capacity as compared to other countries outside LDCs and Africa. Nevertheless, our needs are very high in terms of ensuring that we address the impacts of climate change, particularly on elements of adaptation, because we need to adapt, we need to ensure that we live although the climate is still changing. The capacities that we need are also high and very diverse – capacity needs in technology development and transfer as well as capacity needs in all sorts of areas that will help us to survive as individual countries as well as a continent. Aside this, we are also dealing with multiple challenges, the health system is not working in Africa and LDCs and poverty levels are very high, and our smaller national budgets cannot address all these issues. So, since we have got multiple issues to address in order to survive, and among them is climate change, which is hugely caused by developed nations, it is better that the developed nations should lead in terms of supporting developing countries, Africa and LDCs to ensure that our adaptation needs are being met. Essentially, this means providing financing towards climate change related programmes, projects, and interventions because that will help us to come out of climate change impacts or manage the impacts and still live. 

African countries’ lack of proper resilient systems to effects of climate change puts poor people like Patricia Loneki (pictured above at an emergency camp in Chikwawa District, Malawi) at a high risk of climate change related disasters such as storms and floods. Picture Credit: Mercy Malikwa

Q. How are African countries suffering due to rich nations’ failure to honour the US$100 billion a year pledge made in 2009 to assist LDCs in climate change adaptation and mitigation, by 2020?

A. As earlier pointed out, Africa’s needs are growing from year to year and its capacities are still being challenged by the speedy changes that we are actually observing in terms of climate change. As such, the US$100 billion per year by 2020 should have helped us enough in terms of addressing some of the challenges. Without that support that was pledged in 2009, we have not been able to build our resilient systems and our economy is still shaking because we are still relying on agriculture which is always affected by the impacts of climate change such as low rainfall, erratic rainfall, high temperatures, floods, and droughts.

Many African countries need support from the countries that bear the biggest responsibility for global heating to roll out mitigation and adaptation projects, as well as to power past coal, a key demand at COP26. Artwork: Tabudi Mamabolo.

Q. Do you think the negotiations at COP26 transformed climate financing for the coming years and that the rich nations will most likely begin to fulfil their commitments?

A.  Looking at the outcomes, the deliberations, the processes, and everything that happened in Glasgow, COP26 failed in so many ways and it did not transform climate financing for the coming years. Actually, the conference failed so much on issues to do with climate financing, especially at ensuring that enough resources are mobilised for LDCs and that there are clear modalities on how the financing is delivered as well as ensuring that the financing is accessible and predictable. This failure is also coming from the fact that nothing was agreed on how the US$100 billion per year by 2020 financing issue is going to be taken forward. Although there is a timeframe of meeting that by 2025, but there is no clear guidance on how developed countries are going to mobilise these resources and are going to be providing these resources. COP26 also failed because we did not agree on a universal definition of climate finance which is lacking. Essentially, this is the reason we still have developed countries using all sorts of means as climate finance. Apart from that, COP26 also failed because we did not come up with clearly defined methodology and a roadmap on how we want to define the new climate financing goal beyond the US$100 billion per year by 2020. 

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm addresses delegates in the COP26 plenary hall in Glasgow, Scotland. Picture credit: Roland Ngam/RLS Southern Africa.

Q. What are your expectations for COP27?

A. The expectation for COP27 is to ensure that we address all the shortfalls that COP26 presented. For instance, we need to ensure that we really put adaptation back on the agenda and discuss issues to do with the Global Goal on Adaptation and finalise that. We also need to ensure that loss and damage is put on the agenda and that we have specific funding for it within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Discussions around financing also need to be advanced, especially agreeing concretely on how the developed countries are going to deliver the US$100 billion per year by 2020 within the new timeframe. Another expectation is that this year’s conference will come up with a concrete roadmap and we start the process of defining the new collective goal of climate finance which should be ready at least by 2023 or 2024 so that it should takeover from the US$100 billion per year by 2020 goal.

Young people want world leaders to act with more urgency and ambition on climate priorities. Over half a million of them gathered in Glasgow to say "No More Blah Blah Blah!" Photo credit: Roland Ngam/RLS Southern Africa.