HomeOpinion & AnalysisExploring climate finance in the context of developing countries

Exploring climate finance in the context of developing countries


By Peter Makwanya

THIS discussion is not about accounting for financial sustainability reporting but just a dossier to understand fundamental issues connected to international funding of climate action strategies for developing countries and the related power and politics involved.

The discourse of global climate finance has dominated today’s climate mitigation and adaptation issues including the annual United Nations conference of parties gatherings, otherwise known as COPs.

When talking about climate financial issues, what quickly comes to the mind is the continent of Africa, not just because its needs more than those of any other continent but due to its vulnerability, volatile macro-economic challenges, failure to attract meaningful investment, corruption and abuse of human rights.

Africa has fallen in the trap of operating on prescriptive measures which alienates it from its people.

Nowadays, according to the new discourse of climate action strategies by the global financial providers, Africa can hardly catch up. According to the climate policy brief report of 2020, Africa needs a minimum of nearly US$1,3 trillion to implement its climate action programmes.

As people of Africa talk about financial aid, the first questions are, where is the money coming from? How is it going to be handled, by who and how is it going to be accounted for?

All these questions and many others that have not been foregrounded, are handled in this unfolding discussion. Although the international climate financiers are capable of raising the money, close to US$3 trillion dollars, the other questions are, how much have been disbursed so far, at what rate and to which countries?

Above all, how much climate finance is enough including what role does the African continent play in convincing global financiers to bail it out.

As nations were preparing to go for the Glasgow COP26, some financial pledges made to the African continent had not been met yet they still wanted more.

From the situation on the ground, each African country requires green finance amounting to at least US$2 billion or more in order to realise meaningful mitigation and adaptation.

Unfortunately, the money is not being disbursed in the manna scenarios they anticipate. The climate finance purse is being held tightly by global financiers. This is money and it cannot be broadcasted like fake notes in Nollywood films.

From the outcome of the COP26 it is not clear how many African countries were promised climate finance but South Africa, Zambia, Gabon, Mozambique, Kenya, Ghana, among others were beneficiaries. These climate mitigation funds should not be confused with the national adaptation plans readiness funds by the green climate funds.

Although climate adaptation is short-term and sometimes ongoing it has to be seen within the context of climate change mitigation which is long-term.

A critical analysis of this global financial matrix, shows that some countries have benefited more than others and they are set to benefit even more. Besides the widely acknowledged global climate concerns, Africa has other pressing financial needs, coupled with crippling debts with international financial institutions like International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the others.

Regrettably, Africa cannot shake-off the ghosts of corruption and human rights abuses including lack of accountability which have always haunted it. With the private sector’s role of enhancing climate finance in Africa being palliative and minimal while fleecing the poor, its role remains that of an exploitative one.

Also the begging bowl syndrome has destroyed the African continent’s initiatives of inward looking and home-grown solutions, making it perpetual beggar. Home-grown solutions would see Africans independent, environmentally sustainable, socio-cultural economic and gender co-benefiting.

Since these climate financial pledges are not enough, African countries appear not yet ready to leverage militating financial gaps with the abundance of natural and human capital resources some countries boast.

In this regard, they always want to use the question of emission history as their bargaining power. In terms of financial prudence and impartiality, Africa has never been known for fiscal and implementation discipline hence successes where monetary issues are involved remain a pipe dream as the continent is good at shooting itself in the foot.

In order to realise sustainable mitigations, Africa’s just transitions and low carbon economies, need not be too taxing and painful. In this regard, any projected just transition should be just in every respect not unjust and leaving everyone behind.

Although Africa has its own financial challenges, global financiers have established numerous funding gaps, which need to be revised, narrowed down and be people centred.

It has been realised that many climate financial funding mechanisms do not necessarily situate the ordinary and poor people, who are affected by the negative impacts of climate change heavily, at the centre of green funding.

For instance, one wonders how much benefits can be accrued from forest carbon credit by the local communities if their role in the carbon emission is peripheral and non-inclusive.

In this regard, the rate of deforestation cannot be matched with the prevailing reforestation.

Even when the individual countries are supposed to draw their mitigation based nationally-determined contributions (NDCs), they are more eclectic, non-inclusive and weak in consultation and policy. By so doing, many African countries become more concerned with the NDCs outcomes than the means through which they are achieved.

In this regard, home-grown solutions supported by sustainable mitigation funding are empowering instead of local communities and disadvantaged groups witnessing their forests as carbon sinks and natural capital being monetised in the form of carbon credits.

Sadly, many African countries only remember to act and talk about reforestation programmes on national tree-planting days where they lie their way out to impress television crews and forget about them, wait for another year to lie once more.

For this reason, lack of commitment and consistency is regrettably nauseating. One thing for real that has become an albatross around the necks of many African economies is the lack of realisation and achievement of clean energy investment in order to promote the most needed food security.

Renewable clean energy as the driver of smart farming based agricultural production remains out of reach of the poor or rather a pipe dream.

Overall, as we look at Africa, we focus on a continent characterised by poverty, vulnerabilities, the oppressed and subjugated who cannot suddenly have voices of their own. Their ability to take their leaders to task without saying goodbye to the sun still remains a myth.

  • Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his personal capacity.

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