President William Ruto of Kenya made the African case for climate action at COP27 on Monday, focusing on loss and damage funding and delays he called “cruel and unjust” as Africans already experience catastrophic impacts.
“Loss and damage is not an abstract topic of endless dialogue: it is our daily experience and the living nightmare of millions of Kenyans and hundreds of millions of Africans,” Ruto said, detailing the displacement and humanitarian aid required during just one episode of rising water levels in Kenya’s Rift Lake region in 2020.
“Loss and damage must therefore be addressed with a level of seriousness which demonstrates fairness, urgency and consideration. Africa contributes less than 3% of the pollution responsible for climate change, but is most severely impacted by the ensuing crisis,” Ruto added.
He called on COP27 participants to recognize Africa’s special needs and circumstances under the Paris Agreement, and in decisions made since.
Climate loss and damage negotiations, long pursued by advocates from disproportionately affected nations, are on the COP27 agenda for the first time. With Egypt hosting this year’s climate talks, the African continent and its needs, as well as its strengths, are a priority.
“Beyond the overdue, legitimate and priority concerns of resilience, mitigation, loss and damage, Africa offers unique potential to play an indispensable positive role in the planet’s climate future,” said Ruto. The continent’s land, critical forests and other natural resources, as well as its demographically young workforce, create opportunity for meaningful climate action.
“I call on every delegate here today to rise to the challenge of this moment, to make difficult but necessary decisions and seize transformative opportunity from the grasp of climate disaster,” Ruto said. “This means honoring spending commitments for mitigation and adaptation, and mobilizing increased financial flows to those affected, especially in Africa.”
Image: Presidency Kenya