Key Takeaways From a Month of African Climate Action

by CCAC Secretariat - 29 September, 2023
AMCEN, Africa Climate Week, and Africa Climate Summit have consolidated 2023 mitigation momentum across Africa

2023 saw sustained high-level political momentum build consensus among the world’s largest regional bloc at the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), Africa Climate Week, and Africa Climate Summit.  

August and September 2023 were momentous occasions for African states confronting the reality of climate change impacts on their futures, with three continental conferences focused solely on the environment and climate change. The events were the first regional conferences since the release of the full 2022 Integrated Assessment of Air Pollution and Climate Change for Sustainable Development in Africa, and provided a chance for regional leaders to continue action based on the recommendations of the report. 

African Nations Recognise the Need for Cooperative Action

The 19th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) represents 54 countries, forming the largest regional cooperation block in the world.  Forty-four of these attended the CCAC Ministerial Meeting Reducing Methane for Sustainable Development supported by the Global Methane Hub. The meeting resulted in a clear call from member states for regional cooperation on climate and clean air and to leverage the measures in the Integrated Assessment on Air Pollution and Climate Change for Sustainable Development in Africa. There was also in-principal agreement to more strongly recognise the impact of non-CO2 greenhouse gasses such as methane and other short-lived climate pollutants on public health and climate change outcomes.  
Short-lived Climate Pollutants are the Low-Hanging Fruit for Africa

The CCAC Ministerial Breakfast at Africa Climate Week confirmed the agreement that reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) is a priority for multiple reasons. Not only do SLCPs have the potential to achieve meaningful reductions in the rate of warming within the next decade, but they also contribute to several of Africa’s Sustainable Development Goal challenges. Waste was a consistent focus for all African nations, comprising one of the largest sources of methane emissions outside of oil and gas. Projections of population growth on the African continent show that waste volumes are set to increase significantly by 2050.   

“We have always said that Africa made the least contribution to climate pollution. But, the paradox is that we hold the key increasingly to each solution ... We are the lungs of the world, and even though we don’t make a major contribution, we must help to solve this problem. How do methane and short-lived climate gases come in? This is the low hanging fruit that we can sell to our people –  a message that we can sell to our people. We can have budgetary allocations to make a case for this and leverage on a moral level.” 
Minister of Environment of Ghana, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie 

Financing Remains a Barrier to Accelerated Action

The CCAC Ministerial Breakfast at Africa Climate Week also revealed that finance for SLCP mitigation lags behind national planning efforts and the ambitions of states’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Financing for SLCP reduction accounts for less than 2% of total climate finance. Implementation of Africa’s Nationally Determined Contributions requires nearly $3 trillion, including $2.5 trillion between 2020 and 2030 (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa).  
Countries present including Ghana, Cotê d’Ivoire and Nigeria – which have made some of the most impressive progress on SLCP reductions – emphasised that African countries must also have national budgetary provisions for implementation of projects coupled with international support. Ghana has become a leader in innovative finance mechanisms for methane reduction, including through landmark Article 6 projects and the use of carbon markets for methane abatement. Article 6 of the Paris Agreement allows countries to voluntarily cooperate to achieve emission reduction targets set out in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) through market and non-market approaches. All ministers recognised the need to foster cooperation with partners in financial institutions to better understand and access opportunities for mitigation support.  

“Cotê d’Ivoire, like other countries in development, are growing their economies, and integrated action is vital. It is why Cotê d’Ivoire supports the call for the meeting of ministers, the call for technical and financial support, and the call for development partners so that we bring together financial institutions, including the climate fund, to support the implementation of measures included in national SLCP plans.” 
Cote d’Ivoire Director of Cabinet Kouadio Kouakou Parfait at Africa Climate Week

Fossil Fuel Methane is a Priority

Of the 151 countries who have joined the Global Methane Pledge, 40 are African countries – 18 of which the CCAC helps develop methane reduction roadmaps. This is important as Africa’s contribution to global methane emissions are disproportionately high (at 13%) compared to its C02 emissions (4%). The Integrated Assessment of Air Pollution and Climate Change for Sustainable Development in Africa shows that the African content has high methane emissions reduction potential in the fossil fuel sector – at almost 50% of potential reductions. The assessment includes measures with the capacity to reduce 50% of methane emissions by 2030, and Nigeria has shown the potential for major oil and gas producers to create clear policies targeting fossil fuel methane reductions.  


Gender, Health, and Employment are Linked to Climate Action  

Headline events at Africa Climate Week focused on promoting the key roles of gender, health and employment concerns in climate change mitigation planning.  

The CCAC led a Track 4 (Societies, health, livelihoods, and economies) event, which sought to identify ways African governments can include integrated climate & clean air measures in their environment, health, and climate policies and national development planning at all levels and forms of partnership. The Integrated Assessment of Air Pollution and Climate Change for sustainable development in Africa indicated that the benefits of reducing SLCPs include preventing 200,000 premature deaths from air pollution per year by 2030 and almost 1 million premature deaths per year by 2063. The event also recognised that it is important for African nations to view investment in air pollution and climate action as an opportunity for job creation and innovation, in addition to the potential climate and health benefits.  
These integrations include enhancing cooperation with local governments and rural communities to promote alternatives to burning agricultural crop residues and municipal waste and alternatives to cooking and heating with solid fuels – all emissions sources which contribute significantly to local air pollution through producing large amounts of black carbon. 

The session also recommended the African Union Commission support the development of a continent-wide platform led by countries and with input from all relevant stakeholders to promote more comprehensive air quality management across the continent. This platform could be linked to the African Transboundary Convention for the Prevention and Management of Air Pollution, given the common problems and transboundary movement of polluted air in Africa and beyond. 

The impact of climate change on women was also a key focus of the week, with a dedicated session on women’s empowerment led by the First Lady of Kenya, H.E. Rachel Ruto, to promote the potential of women to positively influence climate mitigation actions in the energy sector. Women are disproportionately impacted by indoor air pollution resulting from household energy use, as well as the risks involved in regular fuel collection. Collecting wood and other solid fuels exacerbates deforestation and will also place a growing burden on women as climate change impacts the availability of such resources. H.E. Ruto also stressed that women should be centrally engaged in the development of new methods and technologies across all sectors, particularly household energy, waste, and agriculture, where women play important roles.  

First Lady Mama Rachel Ruto on the role of women in the energy transition for a sustainable future
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Pollutants (SLCPs)

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