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African ministers seek “critical” amendment to global warming target during Paris climate talks

The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). Creative Commons: UNEP, 2015

The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). Creative Commons: UNEP, 2015

African leaders are calling on wealthy nations to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees instead of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels during upcoming UN climate meetings in Paris.

Environmental Ministers from all 54 African nations met in Egypt last week at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 15th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). Representatives in attendance drafted the Cairo Declaration, which seeks more ambitious commitments from developed nations for the climate. The 0.5 degree difference is critical to climate vulnerable regions, the declaration notes, and “for low-lying islands, it could make the difference between survival and disappearing under rising seas.”

Egypt’s minister of environment Khaled Fahmy said:

“African countries are showing solidarity and a determination to play a positive and responsible role in support of sustainable development, building resilience and poverty eradication.”

During Lima climate talks in December 2014, poorer countries found themselves at odds with many global leaders who weren’t ready to financially back adaptation efforts through their governmental pledges to reduce emissions and address climate change beyond 2020 — which are also due at the end of this month.

In 2014, European leaders from France and Germany proposed a ‘Robin Hood’ tax to finance climate adaptation efforts in vulnerable areas. While initial plans were shut down by the UK, the two countries still want to move forward with a financial transaction tax (FTT) by May — potentially raising billions of dollars for climate change and development aid.

UNEP reports that adaptation efforts for droughts, flooding and rising sea levels in Africa could cost the up to $50 billion a year by 2050. Globally, adaptation costs for developing nations are estimated between $70-100 billion a year.

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