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Unfair to expect Africa to shoulder burden of climate change alone, Ramaphosa tells AU

President Cyril Ramaphosa says it is unfair to expect African countries to shoulder the burden of climate change alone.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says it is unfair to expect African countries to shoulder the burden of climate change alone.
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has bemoaned as unfair the expectation that African countries must carry the burden of climate change alone.

The president was speaking at the AU where he was appointed the chair of the climate change committee — he took over the position from Gabon.

“Already African countries are spending between 2-9% of their GDP in addressing extreme climate events that is already happening at an unprecedented and accelerated pace. It is both unfair and unsustainable to expect Africa to shoulder this burden alone,” he said.

Ramaphosa said developing countries need to be assisted in dealing with this challenge.

“To limit global warming, build resilience to our economies and ensure the safety of our citizens. Everybody must see it as their responsibility to contribute,” he said.

This comes as climate experts have warned that Africa is more vulnerable than any other region to the world's changing weather patterns.

Speakers before Ramaphosa expressed concern that Africa was facing the brunt of climate change in the form of droughts, flooding and other natural disasters.

Ramaphosa bemoaned the trend of international financiers to abruptly disinvest from fossil fuels saying it posed a particular threat to Africa because of the unintended impact on jobs as well as economies.

“The transition must take place in a phased and planned manner. It must also be tailored to national circumstances.”

Big international banks particularly from the EU have decided to stop funding oil, gas and coal projects by the end of 2021.

Ramaphosa said this was bad because the needs and circumstances of countries were diverse.

“We are finding it extremely difficult to find support for large-scale transformative climate change efforts because support is no longer in the form of grants but rather comes in the forms of loans,” he said.

Ramaphosa said this exacerbates the debt threat and forces a reliance on the private sector “which is in the main risk averse”.

The president told delegates at the AU that increased ambition for action on climate change must be matched with enhanced ambition for support.

Ramaphosa’s engagement on climate change was the first of his formal events during the AU summit.

He is expected to hold a number of bilateral meetings with heads of state as he prepares to take over the chairpersonship of the AU from Egypt.

This is the second time SA will be taking over the rotating position.

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