Germany must include African nations in its G7 “climate club”
The new German government must prioritize the climate crisis in its Africa policy and make climate diplomacy with Africa a central part of its G7 Presidency
The entire African continent, home to more than 1.2 billion people, contributed barely 2.73% of cumulative global emissions. In comparison, Germany, a country of less than 85 million inhabitants, contributed 4%.
Nevertheless, Africa is facing the climate emergency head-on. Rates of temperature and sea level rise are higher in Africa than the global average, according to a report of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization.
In 2020, deadly floods in the Sahel region aggravated the socio-economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Climate-related disasters pushed the number of people affected by food insecurity has increased by 40% and are the main sources of displacement.
Some African countries are already spending up to 9% of their GDP on measures to adapt to the climate crisis, according to a to study published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The study notes that Africa’s expenditures are disproportionately high compared to its low contribution to global emissions and are also significantly higher than the international resources available to the continent.
Africa’s investment, however, is a drop in the ocean of the $30-50 billion needed per year by 2030, according to IMF estimates.
The new German government has the opportunity to design, implement and lead a different kind of engagement with African countries. It can do so by capitalizing on what Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said, which will pave the way for Germany’s engagement with the world and a centerpiece of its G7 presidency: climate diplomacy.
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Germany should strategically partner with African countries to create large, well-designed economic solutions. Piecemeal approaches are no longer enough. The partnership for a just energy transition with South Africa, announcement at COP26 in Glasgow last year, worth $8.5 billion over five years, is a start.
Like the South African partnership, solutions must be based on the priorities of African countries. The EU-Africa summit in February would be a good opportunity to forge new partnerships.
They must, however, go further with larger, more ambitious sums, made up of more grants than loans. They should cover a wide range of issues, starting with the urgency of adapting to the effects of the climate emergency, through reduction measures and large-scale infrastructure investments.
The International Climate Initiative, a German financing vehicle that supports the achievement of the goals of the Paris Agreement, can be deployed to develop such strategic partnerships and comprehensive economic solutions.
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Under its G7 presidency, Germany must then ensure that the club of rich, high-emitting countries, which represent around a tenth of the world’s population but are responsible for more than half of the cumulative emissions, pay for such solutions. .
This could be included as a key part of the international climate club that Chancellor Scholz has championed and has announcement will be a key objective of the German G7 Presidency.
However, the climate club should not be an exclusive club of rich countries, but an alliance in which industrialized countries join forces with emerging and developing countries and work hand in hand towards climate-friendly transformation.
On the security front, which has been the main obsession of Germany’s African policy: Germany must restructure and protect its security policy against climate change. For there is no greater driver of insecurity and displacement than the gradual and inexorable disappearance of livelihoods linked to the climate crisis.
Efforts to provide security must directly address the loss and damage caused by the climate crisis while improving livelihoods. Focusing on this central existential crisis will therefore help Germany connect with its apparent interests in Africa – particularly security and travel.
It is impossible to ignore the devastating effects of the climate emergency in Africa – a crisis that Africans did not create and, perhaps because of it, do not have the resources to address. But the crisis also presents opportunities. This is an opportunity for African countries to reshape their economies to respond to the climate emergency while creating jobs, a key consideration for a continent of young people.
It is also a chance for Germany. As Europe’s largest economy, with a new government that seems to be concerned about climate solutions and has made climate diplomacy a key part of its G7 presidency, it’s a chance not just to support the efforts of African countries to address the climate emergency. It is also an opportunity to lead climate diplomacy by providing a model on how external actors can effectively partner with Africa.
Dr Olumide Abimbola is Executive Director of APRI – African Policy Research Institute, a Berlin-based think tank. He previously worked on trade and regional integration at the African Development Bank and on natural resource governance at GIZ.