By David Monyae
Weather patterns across the globe are signalling that climate change will bring about catastrophic calamities to all of us.
Increasingly, droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, rising sea levels, warming oceans, thawing permafrost, changing rain and snow patterns are adversely heart-rending.
Africa and China joined the rest of the world at the UN’s 75th anniversary last month to highlight the urgent need for global responses to climate change.
Prior to his address to the UN, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned the world must “swiftly reduce carbon emission and adapt to the effects of climate change, we will be facing one state of disaster after another for many years to come”.
President Xi Jinping of China avoided playing games demonstrated by his counterpart President Donald Trump on climate change.
Instead, he pledged that China will achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, a move that has been commended and welcomed all over the world.
Although there are many notable differences in appearance, style, and approach among Africans themselves, on one hand, and China, on the other, they share a common position on climate change. The reason Africa and China shared a common position at the UN on climate change is because it receives high priority within the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation.
At the Beijing Summit in 2018, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highlighted the increased co-operation between Africa and China.
He furthermore noted how Africa and China are pursuing what he considered as the “two mutually compatible road maps”, thus, AU’s Agenda 2063 and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in pursuance of the Belt and Road Initiative.
It is in this context therefore that Africa and China committed themselves to being environmentally friendly in the construction of mega-projects across the continent.
There are also many lessons Africa can learn from China’s rapid rise. China is the only country in the world that has uplifted more than 700 million out of poverty in four decades.
While Africa aspires to follow some aspects of China’s development model, it ought to be mindful of the environmental impact of its development.
China achieved its development at a very high cost to the environment, but President Xi Jinping’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and setting clear targets of carbon neutrality by 2060 has made China a leading global champion on climate change along with the African continent.
It must be recognised that Africa is the smallest producer of CO2 emission yet it is one of the most affected by climate change. In recent years, Africa has had endless calamities caused by climate change.
East Africa experienced swarms of voracious desert locusts amid Covid-19, threatening food security.
The city of Cape Town was on the verge of reaching “Day Zero” in 2018 due to a lack of rainfall.
Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi are still recovering from Cyclone Idai.
Farther afield, Ethiopia and Egypt are facing simmering tensions over the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam on the Nile River.
Indeed, Africa should work with China and the rest of the world to prevent President Ramaphosa’s prophecy from becoming a reality.
* Monyae is the director for the Centre for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.