First agreements on climate finance at COP-27
This year’s UN World Climate Conference COP-27, chaired by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, has been taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt since Sunday. The focus of the “African COP” is to be on cooperation and facilitation regarding the financing of the climate crisis with a special focus on the programme item of climate compensation. Under the heading “loss and damages”, financial support for poorer countries by the industrialised nations responsible for climate change is on the official agenda for the first time this year, which was demanded by several African heads of government, among others. Last year, at COP-26 in Glasgow, this was still blocked by the US and the European Union. The first days of the two-week conference, one of which was dedicated to the entire continent as “Africa Day”, already produced some new partnerships and agreements in the field of climate finance: The renewable energy company Masdar, based in the United Arab Emirates, signed a memorandum on Tuesday with Egypt’s largest renewable energy developers Infinity and Hassan Allam Utilities on the construction of one of the biggest wind farms in the world. This will become part of Egypt’s Green Corridor Initiative and will offset some 23.8 million tonnes of Egypt’s CO2 emissions. On the same day, Namibia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the European Union on renewable hydrogen and rare raw materials (see CW 44/2022) and also secured some 540 million Euros in climate finance from the Dutch government and the European Investment Bank. These are to be invested in the production of green hydrogen and position Namibia as a focal point on the African continent in the field of renewable energies. Germany and Kenya also signed a bilateral climate and energy partnership on Tuesday to help Kenya achieve its goal of generating 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The East African country already produces about 90% of its electricity from renewable energies and is thus considered a global pioneer. Meanwhile, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa presented the details of the $8.5 billion investment plan to implement the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) announced at last year’s climate conference. The Just Energy Transition Agreement, supported by the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany and the European Union, aims to transform South Africa’s energy sector and cover 90% of the costs of decommissioning coal-fired power plants and expanding renewables, as well as strengthening grid infrastructure. The implementation of climate finance is considered crucial for a sustainable success of COP-27 which ends on 18 November.
Peace agreement in Ethiopia
On Monday, the former conflict parties of the Ethiopian civil war met in Nairobi, Kenya, to concretise the implementation of the peace agreement. Already on the 2nd November, the liberation movement Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian government signed the agreement on the permanent cessation of hostilities, which was negotiated under the leadership of the African Union (AU) in South Africa. The agreement is intended to end the civil war over power relations between the central government and the regional government of Tigray, which has been going on since the end of 2020 and is estimated to have claimed up to 500,000 lives. According to the plan, all TPLF fighters are to be disarmed in just 30 days and given the opportunity to be integrated into the Ethiopian army, which is henceforth to be the only armed force in the country. For its part, the TPLF pledges to respect the constitutional authority of the central government. Both conflict parties agreed to end military operations, acts of violence, hostile propaganda and hate speech. In addition, the government will ensure the integration of the representation of the Tigray region into the federal institutions and also reinstate the Ethiopian central government in Tigray. Another key component of the agreement is humanitarian access in Tigray. According to the UN, more than 13 million people in northern Ethiopia need food aid and medicine. With the support of humanitarian organisations, these needs are now to be covered. The return of the more than two million displaced people is also to be facilitated. Accountability is to be ensured in accordance with the constitution and the AU’s Transnational Justice Policy Framework, but remains too vaguely formulated in the agreement for critical voices to ensure that, for example, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and top generals also have to be held accountable. Regional and international leaders, meanwhile, have been positive about the agreement. AU mediator and former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo sees it as the beginning of a new era for Ethiopia. However, several leading Tigrayan groups such as the Global Society of Tigrayan Scholars & Professionals (GSTS) reacted negatively, seeing the agreement as a capitulation by the Tigrayan side. A key factor for the sustainability of peace in Ethiopia was left out of the agreement: It does not explicitly provide for the withdrawal of the Eritrean armed forces, whose estimated 10,000 soldiers have been fighting in Tigray on the side of the central government and are accused of committing significant war crimes.
In other news
Last Monday, two satellites developed by Uganda and Zimbabwe were launched into space for the first time ever. They were launched aboard a rocket of the American space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from the US state of Virginia and are now on their way to the International Space Station (ISS). The satellites were developed as part of an international scientific project with researchers from Uganda, Zimbabwe and Japan. After their arrival in orbit, at the beginning of December, they will collect relevant data for cartography and weather forecasts, for example, to contribute to the localisation of mineral resources as well as more effective use of agriculture and improved disaster protection in their countries. Nick Mangwana, a spokesman for the Zimbabwean government, described the satellite launch as a scientific milestone for the country.