COP27 in the Arab Republic of Egypt: Moving from climate promises to climate action!


11 November 2022

Compiled by Byron Zamasiya (Ph.D.)

Africa is holding COP27 in Sham El Sheik, Egypt from 6-18 November 2022. This COP27 is coming against a background of some climate-induced impacts such as the devastating hurricane Ian in Florida America[1], the onset of the worst drought in Europe, and the veld fires that devastated Portugal, Spain, France, the United Kingdom among others, and the shocking death of over a 1000 people in Pakistan and most importantly the trail of destruction by cyclones in Southern Africa that swept across Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. COP26 delivered some high expectations for Africa (Glasgow Pact) which if religiously followed through at COP27 can bring some relief to the global southerners. I see COP27 in Africa, as a COP of Climate Action and not further Climate Promises. For COP27 to be termed a success at least for Africa, there should be evidence of movement in the right direction on at least three major fronts that is the just energy transition; loss and damage; and adaptation and mitigation. 

The Just energy transition for Africa

At COP26, countries reached a compromise from the complete shutdown to a phase down on the usage of coal fuel for power generation. Yes, Africa is to a bigger extent still reliant on fossilized power generation for its energy provision. The key producers are South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Morocco, Egypt, Mauritius, and Madagascar[2]. A sudden stop in coal-fired power stations will see the continent plunging into high energy insecurity and development stagnation. For instance, South Africa, the biggest economy in Africa relies on coal for 77% of its power generation[3]. The Glasgow Pact came up with a reprieve for Africa, in which there was an agreement to stop any new investments in coal-fired power plants. There was also an agreement to do away with subsidies for the consumption of coal-fired power. The net effect is to make coal-fired power generation more expensive than renewable energy. While on this, Africa cannot just wake up being coal-free. Some countries are sinking in debt and have no means to invest on their own in terms of renewable energy[4]. Between 2016-2019, Africa has benefitted USD18.3 billion per year, a figure far below its financing expectations. It is welcome to have a just transition to energy but certainly, at COP27, Africa should demand the creation of a renewable energy fund that can help avail resources to fund the just transition. Despite the Green Climate Fund, evidence shows that most deserving African countries especially from the global south are failing to access these funds. Relaxed conditions or concessionary loans should at least be negotiated to enable a just energy transition for Africa. Rich nations have also shown a high propensity for reneging on the energy transition. For instance, despite committing to reducing gas consumption, some rich nations such as Germany immediately struck deals with Senegal for the supply of gas[5]. The war in Ukraine is raising serious questions about the rich countries’ consumption of gas let alone sincerity to keep the coal fired power plants shut.

Adaptation and mitigation

The African continent continues to suffer from the effects of the climate crisis because of its unique conditions. This is despite producing only 3.3% of the greenhouse gas emissions. Rich countries committed to mobilizing 100 billion dollars every year for mitigation and adaptation by poorer nations. Despite this good gesture, the rich countries have not managed to meet this threshold. The global southerners have to a larger extent failed to access this money for adaptation and mitigation. At COP26, the rich countries even made a further commitment to double this money by 2024. While the gesture is good, there are fundamental questions that arise. The first is that if the rich countries have failed to meet the 100 billion thresholds as per their commitments[6], what will happen to that shortfall? In the absence of international instruments to coerce the rich countries to honour their pledges, how will the backlog be addressed? Lastly, there is also no mechanism for tracking if the deserving countries in the global south are accessing the funds as outlined in the Paris Agreement. Under these circumstances, Africa must push for the creation of a mechanism that ensures the monitoring of the flow of climate finance to individual countries. Africa must also push for the reallocation of climate finance with a preference towards adaptation. This is because Africa continues to suffer the consequences while the resource-rich are holding onto the funds.

Loss and damage

The recent climate events across the world are showing how vulnerable the world is to the impacts of the climate crisis. For instance, Africa experienced cyclones Idai, and Kenneth, among others which brought an untold loss of human lives and infrastructural damage. Although lots of questions can be raised in terms of the quality of the infrastructure, disaster preparedness, and the effectiveness of early warning systems, what cannot be hidden is that the disasters are increasing in intensity. Infrastructure that managed to withstand earlier climate shocks can no longer withstand new shocks whose intensities are increasing. In some instances, replacement bridges were swept away by floods just after their official opening. Can we blame the engineering mastery, or we lay all the blame on climate change? The huge human and material losses caused by hurricane Ian in Florida is a testimonial of what loss and damage are even in a developed country setting. If the trees in a pool are starving of thirst, what then about those that are in the mountains? If such devastating losses were experienced in a developed country, what more can we expect in a developing country? The reality is that climate crisis brings with it unexpected loss and damage. The positive vibes from COP26 on loss and damage should at least be carried into COP27. For countries to at least recover from climate induced loss and damage, COP27 should see the development of a loss and damage fund. This fund can be modelled around an adapted Special Drawing Rights model that was adopted for COVID funds. Through this mechanism, countries from the global south can be guaranteed of accessing financial resources in the event of climate-induced losses.

The achievement of any of these three demands can result in COP27 being a success and not another talk show. It will indeed be a COP for Africa and not a COP in Africa. Africa needs CLIMATE ACTION and not CLIMATE PROMISES!


[2] Gavin, J & Lewis, I (20222). June 15th 2022, Africa A role for coal? Renewables alone won’t power Africa’s energy future. How do renewables stack up against traditional forms of energy in Africa? It’s a shifting picture – but don’t count out coal just yet. Energy & Resources.





Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.