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President Cyril Ramaphosa: Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change

8 Jun 2021

Opening statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC)

Good afternoon.

It is fitting that we are meeting just a few days after celebrating World Environment Day on the 5th of June, which focused on creating a good relationship with nature, and coincides with the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030

Since I assumed the role of Coordinator of this Committee in February last year, much has changed across the world and on our continent.

The global crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has affected all countries.

On our continent, the pandemic has exposed our socio-economic vulnerabilities and increased debt burdens.

It has created new challenges as we work towards the Sustainable Development Goals, responding to climate change as envisaged in the Paris Agreement, as well as attaining our Agenda 2063 aspirations.

While the continent is dealing with the impact of the pandemic on human health, our societies and our economies, Africa continue to bear the brunt of climate change, with annual costs to African economies of between 3 to 5 per cent of their GDPs on average.

Africa continues to be one of the most affected regions and frequently experiences phenomena associated with global warming.

These include droughts, floods, cyclones and other extreme weather events, which have caused enormous damage to infrastructure and displaced thousands of people.

This CAHOSCC meeting takes place soon after the virtual Climate Summit of World Leaders convened by the President of the United States on 22 and 23 April 2021, in which more than 40 world leaders participated.

The Summit reaffirmed that the international community needs to significantly scale up its efforts, raise the level of ambition and support developing countries with the means to implement climate actions.

Progress in addressing the global challenge of climate change can only be made when we all honour our mutual commitments and respect our common, but differentiated responsibilities.

It is absolutely imperative that everyone must contribute their fair share if we are to limit global warming to the agreed target of well-below 2 degrees, build the resilience of our economies and ensure the safety and well-being of our citizens.

Therefore, at this critical juncture, Africa needs to speak with one clear voice to emphasise the primacy of multilateralism and to express our unwavering support for the full implementation of the UN Climate Change Convention and its Paris Agreement.
We need a strong and well-coordinated Common African Position.

We need to adopt key messages that encapsulate Africa’s aspirations and work together in the spirit of unity and solidarity as a Continent.

We need to send a clear message that all African countries require support from international partners and that our development space should be respected to achieve our climate goals and ambitions, while contributing our fair share to the global effort.

We need recognition of our different national circumstances and capacities as it is not realistic to expect us to meet the same timelines as developed countries to transition our economies and to disinvest from fossil fuels.

This is important, especially given the high levels of inequality, unemployment and developmental needs across our Continent, particularly among women and the youth.

Furthermore, we need to send a clear signal that implementation and ambition apply equally to mitigation, adaptation and support.

Increased ambition for action must be matched with enhanced ambition for support.

While this pandemic is having a profound impact on sustainable development and our efforts to combat environmental degradation, it also presents opportunities to set our recovery on a path of transformative sustainable development.

In this regard, many governments and regions are prioritising a green recovery as part of their stimulus packages to address the crisis.

The African Green Stimulus Programme adopted by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in December 2020 is an innovative African-led initiative to support the continent’s recovery.

The African Green Stimulus Programme seeks to harness the opportunities of a green recovery through a more coordinated approach and the scaling up of resource mobilisation, capacity building and technology development.

In conclusion, it is clear that Africa will need climate change, environment and sustainable development initiatives to be implemented at a much larger scale.

This is not only to contribute significantly to Africa’s green recovery, but also to fully realise the Africa We Want as espoused in Agenda 2063.

We must therefore do everything within our means to ensure a successful outcome of COP26 in November this year, particularly for Africa.

I thank you.


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