African nations say clear targets on adaptation are key demand from Cop28

Continent wants greater leeway to continue burning fossil fuels in bid to eradicate poverty

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African nations have said they will not agree to a Cop28 global stocktake text unless it includes clear adaptation targets.

Collins Nzovu, chairman of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN), said members would sign an agreement only if it had a suitable framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA).

The GGA is a part of the global stocktake, an assessment of where the world is on dealing with climate change and an outline of measures needed.

It reflects the concern some African states share that adaptation, rather than mitigation, was the first issue they highlighted after the release on Monday of an updated draft global stocktake text.

"If we are serious about saving lives, livelihoods and protecting ecosystems, then the GGA framework must have ambitious, time-bound targets with clear means of support for implementation," said Mr Nzovu, the Zambian Minister of Green Economy and Environment.

He said African nations could not agree to an adaptation framework featuring "process-based targets" without specified outcomes. Targets must be "measurable and time-bound".

Main ambitions

Key aspirations for African nations – such as reducing climate-induced water scarcity, ensuring climate-resilient food production and reducing climate impacts on health – are described in draft text as ambitions to be achieved "by 2030 and beyond".

Adaptation measures, designed to help societies adjust to climate change happening now or expected in future, include growing crops more suited to drought, installing early-warning systems for cyclones and building defences to cope with rising sea-levels or other flooding risks.

African delegates at Cop28 have highlighted the effects climate change is having on their continent, including extreme temperatures and water shortages.

In recent years, the Horn of Africa has been one of the hardest-hit areas, suffering repeated droughts as well as extreme rain and heavy flooding.

"Despite the strain on our budgets and the increasing burden of debt, our governments have committed significant domestic resources on adaptation," Mr Nzovu added.

"However, only scaled-up, adequate and predictable international public finance can close the widening gap. Means of implementation is therefore the cornerstone for realising the GGA and its framework.

"Africa cannot accept a GGA framework without means of implementation from developed countries for developing countries, especially on the targets."


Many richer nations have reservations about "bifurcation", in which there are clear distinctions between developed and developing countries in their responsibilities to reach net zero.

Arlette Soudan-Nonault, the Republic of Congo's minister of the environment, sustainable development and the Congo basin, said that Africa was the part of the world "most impacted" by climate change.

Yet, despite the importance of the Congo basin as a carbon sink, she said that the area struggled to secure funds to cope with a changing climate and to limit its own emissions.

"We need funding to get resilient agriculture and because of the displacement of people as a result of floods. We're really impacted because of these things," she said.

"We have investment plans, but we have a lot of difficulty to get the funds. A lot of promises are made but not kept."

As well as for adaptation, Ms Soudan-Nonault said that the Republic of Congo, which is an oil exporter, also needed better access to finance to support mitigation or efforts to limit its own greenhouse gas emissions.

"We need solutions to get the ecological transition and the energy transition," she said. "We want to raise funds to restore our ecosystems."

Ms Soudan-Nonault said that a promise made at Cop15 in Copenhagen in 2009 that $100 billion of climate finance would be made available each year to support mitigation and adaptation in developing nations was "not kept".

Another issue highlighted by Mr Nzovu of the AGN is that the move to net-zero emissions and any phase-out of fossil fuels must involve "differentiated pathways" between nations.

The global stocktake text must, he added, "recognise the full right of Africa to exploit its natural resources sustainably" in line with the continent’s "poverty eradication needs".

Poorer nations want more time to continue using fossil fuels because their historical emissions are much lower and they have a greater need to develop their economies. Africa’s current greenhouse gas emissions are about 4 per cent of the world’s total.

Updated: December 13, 2023, 9:55 AM