Gilpin spoke to Ahram Online in Mauritius on the sidelines of the African Economic Conference (AEC 2022), which brings together a variety of stakeholders to identify opportunities and strategies for adaptation and mitigation, identify key strategies for financing mobilization, and draft an action plan to support the low-carbon and climate-resilient development of Africa.
Gilpin added that climate-smart solutions are key for Africa to navigate the severe impacts of climate change, especially amid the ongoing global economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“Africa accounts for less than 4 percent of global greenhouse emissions. Although it has not contributed significantly to the problem of climate change, it receives the smallest share of the global finances dedicated to climate action. Africa cannot continue to depend on the developed world, we have to be able to think creatively,” Gilpin said.
Climate finance inflows to Africa have failed to match the commitments made by developed countries and have not met the continent’s adaptation and mitigation needs.
According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa’s share in total global climate finance grew by only 3 percent on average during 2010-2019, from 23 percent ($48 billion) in 2010-2015 to 26 percent ($73 billion) in 2016-2019.
Given the resources needed to meet Africa’s Nationally Determined Contribution targets—estimated at $118.2 to $145.5 billion a year until 2030—more concrete measures are needed to close Africa’s annual climate finance gap, according to the AfDB.
Gilpin also discussed the role the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) played in showcasing the serious threat the continent is experiencing and how climate action efforts in Africa have been affected by the ongoing global crisis.
“The expectation was really high. It was called the African COP. But, at the end of the day, we didn’t leave there with strong statements or strong consensus on the path forward to ensure that we avoid climate disaster. However, we did get some consensus that was translated to the creation of the loss and damage fund and the hope is that it does not become an expression of intent, but that countries will actually contribute to the fund and that mechanisms are put in place to get the resources we need as quickly as possible,” Gilpin explained.
“Having the COP27 in Egypt was symbolic as well because it showed how climate change contributes to the desertification the continent is suffering. It also demonstrates the need to reach a global consensus to address this because it is not only Egypt’s problem or an African problem, but it is a global one,” Gilpin further noted.
The number of people who are moving to seek protection and better livelihoods will increase from 1.5 percent of Africa’s population today to about 5 percent by 2050 (around 113 million people), according to African Shifts report recently published by the Africa Climate Mobility Initiative.
The report also indicated that up to 2.5 million people could leave Africa’s coastal areas due to sea level rise and other stressors, and the movement of people across borders in response to climate change is predicted to reach 1.2 million people by 2050 under a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario.
According to Gilpin, Africa also needs to change how it uses electricity by shifting to less-polluting resources while ensuring the average citizen has access to electricity and is able to afford the electricity bill.
“Moreover, my hope is that the nationally determined contributions should go from broad expressions of hope to tangible strategies with clear steps,” Gilpin added.
Regarding how African countries can acquire the needed finances for climate action amid the ongoing economic challenges, Gilpin explained that a climate-smart path is a priority for the continent to navigate the serious threats of climate change, and this needs significant investments as well.
“This is an opportunity for us to review or rethink about development and recognise that we can’t do it without having climate-smart growth… investing in development, investing in infrastructure, investing in capacity, but it has to be done with the climate stresses in mind. We have to be very creative about how we mobilise all Africa’s resources to finance development. $90 billion is lost in the continent every year because of bad practices, bad contracting and corruption. This requires adopting economic governance demands with robust structures to be put in place to stop this,” Gilpin said.
He also called for the adoption of the public-private-partnership model in climate related projects and investments on the continent, as well as expanding in blended finance to provide the funds required to meet Africa’s climate action needs.