Statement at the Pan African Parliamentarians Summit on Climate Policy and Equity 16 May 2023 – Gallagher Estate, Midland
17 May 2023
Climate protection to ensure a just transition is one of the Strategic Priority Areas of the Strategic Development Cooperation Framework of the UN South Africa.
Good morning your excellencies – ladies and gentlemen. Allow me to acknowledge:
• The President of the Pan African Parliament and distinguished members of the PAP and other participating parliamentarians.
• The African Union Commissioner and other representatives of African institutions.
• Representatives of member states and the diplomatic corps including Egypt and UAE,
• Friends and family of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance.
Your excellencies, distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen – allow me to stand on the shoulders of the previous speakers and say all protocol observed.
I am grateful for the opportunity to share a message of solidarity on the occasion of the 3rd Pan-African Parliamentarians Summit on Climate Policy and Equity –the UN in South Africa welcomes you and wishes you fruitful deliberations.
It is particularly gratifying to be amongst my PanAfrican Climate Justice Alliance friends. We go a long way starting from your inception.
Our world is facing three interconnected environmental crises – climate change, biodiversity / nature loss, and pollution and waste. These are putting global economic and social wellbeing at risk. This Triple Planetary Crisis undermines opportunities to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods.
The world’s most vulnerable communities and those least responsible for the aforementioned planetary crises are often the most impacted– we are therefore faced with an injustice and power imbalance dilemma.
This summit today is designed to advance African solutions and perspectives on one of the three crises: Climate Change — a global crisis that affects every aspect of our lives, from the food we eat to the air we breathe, from the spaces we inhabit to the livelihoods we are losing.
We are indeed facing a crisis that requires a collective response to ensure the lived realities and socioeconomic opportunities of Africans and their children are not endangered.
In Africa – the lack of an ambitious, urgent, and equitable global response to the climate crisis is hitting hard. The rate of temperature rise in the last half century is the highest in 2,000 years. We are currently heading to 2.7 degrees. The 1.5°C limit is achievable. To ensure we stop and reverse the worrying temperature rise and keep it within the 1.5 degrees centigrade limit, a quantum leap in climate action is required.
We are already 7 and a half years since promises that are not being kept were made as part of the Paris Climate Agreement, we are also at the midpoint of the delayed delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. All aligned with Africa’s Agenda 2063. We are far where from reaching these lofty goals for people and planet, and at this pace we are certainly not on track towards achieving the red line of 5 limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees as agreed in Paris.
There’s no time left for talk. We need African-led action and focused solutions for our continent.
During the recent launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report, the UN Secretary-General asked leaders of developed countries to commit to reaching net-zero as close as possible to 2040, the limit they should all aim to respect.
He has set out a challenge for leaders in emerging economies to commit to reaching net-zero as close as possible to 2050.
Every country must be part of the solution.
It is right to demand that others move first and faster but we all must move otherwise we are only ensuring that humanity comes last.
As the representative of the UN Secretary-General in South Africa and on behalf of the UN Country Team, I would like to highlight that climate protection with a focus on ensuring a just transition is one of the Strategic Priority Areas of our Cooperation Framework which we are delivering with the government and people of South Africa.
Our efforts are to ensure that people in South Africa live prosperous and healthy lives in a safe and cohesive society that protects and values environmental sustainability.
Excellencies and friends,
The objectives of this Summit are ambitious and critical for Africa's sustainable future, aiming to identify a common African agenda in the Global Stock Take (GST) process and the role that parliamentarians must play in the countdown to COP28 – which is in less than 7 months.
Please do not also forget the upcoming SDGs Summit and UN Secretary-General’s climate action summit in September at the United Nations General Assembly which will happen a few weeks after the African Climate Summit to be hosted by President Ruto.
The work over the next two days will underscore the critical role that parliamentarians must, and will can play in the formulation of coherent policies, boosting efforts and pace towards the implementation of NDCs across African countries. The longer we wait on any of these crucial issues, the harder it will become.
The Private sector is also part of the solution – by presenting net-zero pledges and plans – plans that must clearly detail actual emission cuts for 2025 and 2030, and efforts to change business models to phase out fossil fuels and scale up renewable energy.
Excellencies and friends,
Let me conclude by re-iterating the words of the UN Secretary-General when he says “We have never been better equipped to solve the climate challenge, but we must move into warp speed climate action now. We don’t have a moment to lose.”
I wish you all successful deliberations as you define and advance the necessary African-led climate solutions.
A common African proverb of relevance we should note is that: “if we are united within the family, no external force or enemy can negatively impact us, take control or undermine efforts.”