We write to you as an alliance of civil society organizations in 43 countries across Africa that represents a diverse group of people and shares a common concern on our continent about the growing catastrophe that is climate change.
Climate change is upon us in Africa. Our rivers are drying. Our crops failing, diseases increasing, people going hungry, and thirsty. An unrelenting sun scorches our land while other areas are ravaged by storms and disease. Scientists now say the world could warm by 6°C – or more – a global average that will be exceeded in Africa. This threatens nothing less than the collapse of our continent.
Today Africa grapples with a challenge that is not of our making; effects we had little role in causing. We find no alternative but to look to those nations that contributed most to causing climate change, and to call on them to lead through their example.
We call on Sweden as the President of the European Union to fulfill its duty to ensure that Africa is kept safe from the rising impacts of climate change. Yet we find it failing in this duty. Along with other leaders of developed nations you have proposed:
That global average temperatures be limited to “below 2°C”, yet this threatens catastrophic harm to Africa (which could warm by around 1.5 times this global average);
That global emissions be limited to 50% of 1990 levels by 2050, yet this risks a 50% chance of exceeding 2°C; and
That Annex I countries cut their emissions by 80% by 2050, and non-Annex 1 countries including African countries make up the rest the rest of required effort. This would rob Africa of its fair share of atmospheric space and limit our prospects of development while we grapple with a more hostile climate.
Of greatest single concern is that it seems the European Union seeks to continue its domestic pollution well into the future by “offsetting” its emissions to Africa and other developing countries, further transferring the burden of curbing climate change to those countries that had little role in causing it.
Also of concern is the European Union’s seeming willingness to ignore their legal obligations under the Kyoto Protocol; failing to agree a second commitment period of the protocol will undermine the only international emissions targets for developed countries.
These positions are as unjust as they are unsustainable. We call on the European Union and other developing countries to recognize their historical responsibilities for the causes and adverse consequences and to repay their climate debts to Africa and other developing countries. Our detailed demands are set out in the attached African Climate Justice Manifesto.
As we near Copenhagen, the eyes of the world are upon the European Union. We call on you – as a leader of nations and as friends to Africa – to ensure that Sweden, the European Union and its partners in the industrialized world address their historical responsibilities and debts, and ensure that Africans and all people can look forward to a bright future.