Concept note

“The Promise of Paris” seeks to crystallize an umbrella conceptual framing of Africa’s role in the global governance of climate change, and to position climate change as both a constraint on Africa’s development potential as well as an opportunity for the structural transformation of Africa’s economies. The climate talks will explore the possibilities of Africa prospering in a changing climate, how that prosperity can be leveraged, and the roles of different countries in enabling this prosperity through their contributions to global climate governance.

The evolution of the Global Framework for Climate Governance (the UNFCCC and the Associated Kyoto Protocol) has been complicated and not without controversy. Since the emergence of climate change as the most pressing and complex challenge for human development, significant progress has been made in developing a global framework within which humanity could collaboratively identify solutions to the myriad challenges posed by climate change, and translate these solutions into national and sub-national actions. Various policy solutions and actions have been developed and implemented in response to climate change. These have ranged from the Clean Development Mechanism, the National Adaptation Action Plans (NAPAs), the National Action Plans (NAPs) to the REDD and REDD++ responses. All these responses developed within the context of the Kyoto Protocol of the
UNFCCC, and sought to limit the emission of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere while at the same time supporting efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change that were already expressing themselves in different ways.

The impact of Global climate governance to date has been mixed. Successive Assessment Reports (ARs) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) note that while progress has been made in many areas of defining the global response to climate change, this is not sufficient. More still needs to be done and urgently to avert catastrophic climate change. The global climate governance framework needs to become more robust in order to create a solid foundation to guide humanity’s climate response, and time is of the essence. The global narrative now seeks to limit temperature increases due to anthropogenic GHG to 20C by 2050. However, all evidence indicates that for Africa and the Small Island Developing States, temperature increases above 1.50C are already catastrophic. The 1.50C is the Precautionary Principle threshold established in the UNFCCC, yet subsequent interpretations and re-interpretations of the UNFCCC have revised the emissions reduction ambition downwards. What has been the role of Africa in this process? How does the current framing of emissions reduction ambition in the lead up to Paris reflect the different interests and aspirations of the parties to the UNFCCC? How will the Paris agreement resolve the apparent gap between the interests of the developed countries and the developing world? How will African interests be articulated and reflected in the post Kyoto agreement? Readmore...