The recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, has indicated that 20-40% of the global population live in regions that have already experienced warming of more than 1.5oC in at least one season. It further adds this year, various parts of the world have been had a fair share of extreme weather events in some form or the other — including El Nino rainfall in East Africa, heat waves or drought in Europe and China, forest fires in the US, dust storms and unprecedented rainfall in parts of India. With a further 0.5oC warming, these extremes are expected to be far greater and more pronounced than what science had already envisaged.
As a threat, climate change could derail efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including poverty reduction. For example, climate change is likely to disrupt food security (SDG 2) and water availability (SDG 6). As women bear a disproportionate burden in regard to the provision of food and water, climate change can undermine efforts towards gender equality (SDG 5). Conversely, unsustainable agricultural practices, deforestation, and forest degradation in search of better arable land and fuel wood will accelerate climate change impacts.
In fact, climate change-related factors is already ranked high as one of the major threats confronting the East African Community (EAC) region in form of warmer weather, environmental degradation due to soil erosion, food insecurity in the wider region due to extended droughts, diseases outbreaks and pest resistance. It is regrettable that a compressed cycle of recurring drought is plunging struggling communities into drought again before they have a chance to recover sufficiently from the last one.This is despite the insignificant Co2 emission estimated at only 4.7 million tonnes per year by 2030 (EAC Vision 2050).
Therefore, as part of the global response to this challenge through practical and strategic actions the EAC needs to incorporate provisions of the Paris Agreement in its Climate Change Policy under review as well as the proposed EAC Climate Change law. This will further strengthen climate action in the region in addition to what is already underway at the respective Partner State level.
Fortunately, the EAC has adopted a Roadmap on how to approach implementation of the Paris Agreement that includes concrete steps to be taken by the six Partner States.
But actions taken are more important than the intentions, given the urgency for East Africa to be part of the collective global fraternity to address the climate change challenge. In black and white, the IPCC Special report makes it amazingly clear that 2050 must be the global Co2 emissions phase out year (IPCC SR15 Summary for Policy Makers C.1). To do this, almost all areas of life have to be turned upside down: how we live, eat, move around, and what we consume!
It is in this regard that East African CSOs would like to urge you to take into account the following six issues (based on their June 2018 Policy brief), as part of rolling out the EAC Roadmap to implement the Paris Agreement; review of the EAC Climate Change Policy and in the proposed regional Climate Law:
- Fully incorporate gender equality and women’s empowerment in all regional climate change discourse and actions as per the Gender Action Plan from the Paris Agreement, taking into account existing gender-related aspects.
- Explicitly promote civil society and private sector participation in implementation of the nine major activities in the EAC roadmap, beyond the narrow view of their role being that of resource mobilization; promoting climate resilient and low carbon development initiatives; capacity building for negotiators and awareness creation. For example, people representing businesses, investors, cities, regions, civil society and others need to step out to have their voices to be heard
- Review the current engagement mechanisms and processes in order to institutionalize wider stakeholder involvement to include vulnerable groups, communities like pastoralists, fishers, urban poor people, mountain-based communities, farmers, women, youths, disabled persons, among others. Institutionalized consultations with the diverse groups should enable input into the periodic adaptation communication on adaptation priorities, needs, plans and actions at national level while informing EAC interventions at the regional level, in line with the bottom-up structure of the Paris Agreement, where action is not conditional upon international rules, adaptation support (from the Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund and others facilities) will also be better defined in a timely fashion, and targeted to hot spot areas / vulnerable sectors.
- Develop monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for tracking the level of implementation of the EAC Climate Change Policy and strategy to ensure that they are effective and also provide information for informed decision making on the necessary corrective actions. In this regard the EAC Roadmap needs to clearly flag out and develop elaborate plans to contribute to the Global Stocktake due to take place every five years starting from 2023.
- Put in place mechanisms to integrate the climate change actions in all planned region-wide micro – to mega investments, projects and programmes, rather than the climate policy being implemented on its own. In other words, all interventions must be assessed against a climate sensitivity criteria (for example adaptation, resilience building etc.). This could be in the EAC Partner States’ updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and Low Emission Development Strategies, as time goes.
- Join the Call on all Parties including Least Developing Countries (to which the EAC is largely part) and Small Island Developing States to strive to formulate and communicate Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) to be submitted not later than 2020. This could take the shape of common low emission development pathway for the EAC as a region that builds on what individual countries have in place (for example the Green Growth Development Strategies for Kenya and Uganda, the Rwanda Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy and the proposed Low Emission Development Strategies for Tanzania, among others.
This Petition has been initiated by the following Civil Society Organizations: