CW 45/2021: Of Continental Importance
Press Review 5 November 2021 to 12 November 2021

Africa and the COP26

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference, known internationally as COP26 (Conference of the Parties), officially ends today in Glasgow, Scotland, having hosted 25,000 participants. In addition to representatives of the 197 states party to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, civil society actors also had the opportunity to participate in the negotiations. The COP26 is intended to advance the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 and thus primarily pursues the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees through adaptations in climate protection. From the perspective of the Global South, the issues of climate justice and financing were in the foreground of the conference. Although the African continent, with a share of only 4% of historical global CO₂ emissions, bears the least responsibility for the global effects of climate change, it is disproportionately affected by its side effects such as floods, droughts and landslides, according to the report “The State of the Climate in Africa 2020“. Countries like Cameroon or Zimbabwe are already having to spend 9% of their gross domestic product on measures to adapt to climate change. At the same time, the challenge remains to reconcile climate protection with the right to economic development. In view of the urgent need for electrification on the continent, the exit from fossil fuels in particular poses problems for African governments. Accordingly, it can be rated as a success of COP26 that South Africa was able to agree on a $ 8.5 billion deal to phase out coal with leading industrial nations. 90% of South Africa’s electricity is based on coal production, which makes the state the 13th largest producer of CO₂ emissions worldwide. Overall, however, the efforts of the industrialized countries to provide sufficient financial support and technology transfer for developing and emerging countries have so far lagged well behind the commitments of earlier conferences. The goal of spending US $ 100 billion a year in climate financing from 2020 onwards has not been achieved and is now only to come into effect from 2023 onwards. In addition, the African delegation, which was underrepresented at the conference, formulated a concrete demand for the industrialized countries for the first time: financial transfers should be increased to at least 700 billion US dollars per year from 2025 onwards. In the draft of the final declaration, the demand was not met, but the doubling of financial climate aid from 2025 is said to be in it, which experts consider to be one of the few bright spots of a conference that ends in the criticism of having discussed a lot, without having taken enough decisions. The COP27 will take place on African soil in Egypt next year.

Return of beninese artefacts in Paris

On Tuesday, Benin’s president Patrice Talon and minister of culture Jean-Michel Abimbola travelled to Paris to receive 26 artefacts that were looted during the French colonial rule. The objects were stolen more than 130 years ago by French colonial forces from the royal palace of the then kingdom of Dahomey in the south of present-day Benin. Among the objects were a royal throne and several statues. This representative handover by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris is the first of its kind and the first step towards a large-scale reappraisal of the colonial past and the return of cultural objects that are stored in numerous French museums. In 2018, an expert report commissioned by Macron counted around 90,000 African works in French museums, 70,000 of them in the Musée du quai Branly alone, which was also host to the artworks that have now been returned. This follows a law passed last year allowing Paris to return artefacts to Benin and Senegal, also a former French colony. In Cotonou, the capital of Benin, the return of the artefacts was eagerly awaited. The valuable objects will be exhibited in a former Portuguese fort in the city of Ouidah, among other places, until the completion of the museum currently under construction in Abomey. But it is not only France that is confronted with increased demands for the return of illegally acquired historical objects from African countries. Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany are also in dialogue with various governments about the return of colonial loot stored in the museums of European countries. Most recently, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation announced the start of return talks for the Benin bronzes stolen in 1897 from the royal palace in Benin City, in what is now Nigeria. The first objects are to be returned as early as next year.

In Other News

The fifth edition of the pan-African comedy festival Africa Stand Up filled the evenings in the cities of Yaoundé and Douala in Cameroon last week. The festival paid special attention to the growing number of talented women in the African stand-up comedy scene. In total, the festival brought 34 stand-up comedians to the stage, including 14 women from Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo. The organisers of the festival not only provide a stage for the artists every year, but also promote new talents. For example, Africa Stand Up has trained around thirty female comedians since the first edition in 2017. These young creatives look forward to further promoting African comedy and contributing to its prominence beyond the continent’s borders.

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