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Nigeria, others need $500b to cushion impact of climate change -UN

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By Godwin Anyebe

There are indications that Nigeria and other emerging African economies may benefit from a potential annual $500 billion fund to assist developing countries invest in their lives, livelihoods and infrastructure to reduce the impact of climate change in their countries.

United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Antonio Guterres yesterday spoke on the proposed fund while addressing African leaders and delegates at the ongoing Africa Climate Change Summit in Kenya.

According to him, developing economies in Africa need a Social Development Goals (SDG) Stimulus of at least $500 billion a year to help them invest in their people and the systems they need.

He explained that Africa accounts for just four per cent of global emissions, but it suffers some of the worst effects of climate change.

“Today, I renewed my call for the world to step up climate action to avoid the worst effects of climate change, keep global promises to provide essential support, and help Africa make a just and equitable transition to renewable energy,” the UN chief said.

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On potentials in Africa, he reiterated that Africa can be a renewable energy superpower, adding that it is time to bring together African countries with developed nations, financial institutions and technology companies to create a true African Renewable Energy Alliance.

All of these, he said, require addressing another injustice: an outdated, unfair and dysfunctional global financial system.

On average, Mr. Guterres said, African countries pay four times more for borrowing than the United States (US) and eight times more than the wealthiest European countries.

“Turbocharging a just and equitable green transition — while supporting development more broadly across Africa — requires a dramatic course correction,” he said.

The UN official said it necessary to ensure an effective debt-relief mechanism that supports payment suspensions, longer lending terms, and lower rates for Africa.

This, he said, means re-capitalizing and changing the business model of Multilateral Development Banks so they can massively leverage private finance at affordable rates to help developing countries build truly sustainable economies.

While stressing that there are existing global financial injustices preventing the African continent from upscaling climate adaptation, Guterres explained that the multilateral system does not reflect today’s Africa or a world that is growing increasingly multipolar.

“Global governance structures reflect the world as it was, not as it is,” he said, adding that global institutions were created in the aftermath of World War II when many African countries were still ruled by colonial powers and not even at the table.

“We see this injustice playing out in the African context today,” he added.

Similarly, during his remarks, COP28 president-designate, Sultan AlJaber, called on donors to double adaptation finance by 2025 and for all parties to transform the Global Goal on Adaptation from theory and text into tangible action and real results to unlock Africa’s potential and accelerate climate action.

“Africa is demonstrating the political will and determination to transition to a climate-resilient future. But one essential element that can unlock Africa’s potential is missing, and that is available, accessible and affordable finance,” he said.

On her part, President of the European Union Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said climate action can be one of the main drivers of Africa’s growth.

“For this, Africa needs massive investment,” she noted.

According to her, Europe wants to be Africa’s partner in closing the existing investment gap, with Global Gateway.

On way forward, Guterres said global institutions need to step up, guarantee African representation, and respond to African needs and African potential; from international financial institutions to the UN Security Council where Africa lacks a permanent seat.

“That’s why across my upcoming meetings — including the ASEAN meeting in Indonesia this week, followed by the G20 meeting in India and the G77 meeting in Cuba — I will continue advocating for deep reforms to make these institutions more responsive to the needs of developing countries,” he said.

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