Connect with us

World News

Road to COP27: Why Africa Cannot Be Complacent on Energy, Climate Change

Avatar

Published

on

Bitsat Yohannes-Kassahun is the Programme Management Officer at the UN Office of the Special Adviser for Africa.Opinion by Bitsat Yohannes-Kassahun (united nations)Thursday, January 27, 2022Inter Press Service

For African countries, however, the pandemic exposed the stark realities of global inequality. These countries scrambled to buttress their shattered food systems; they lacked industries to shift production to life-saving personal protection equipment even as young Africans were left out of schools because of lack of access to electricity and the internet, which made the shift to virtual learning almost impossible.

The pandemic revealed how Africa, despite its best efforts, was unprepared for some of the pressing emergencies of our times, be it the pandemic or the looming threat of climate change.

The UN Office of the Special Adviser for Africa is advocating for Africa to transition into 2022 with a sense of utmost urgency in building the continent’s resilience. We firmly believe that the foundational building blocks to this resilience lie in Africans’ access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy.

For over a decade, the United Nations has touted energy as “The golden thread that connects economic growth, social equity, and environmental sustainability” to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Energy is the key to unlocking Africa’s future envisioned in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

Whether it is for economic transformation, ensuring food security, digitalizing education, revolutionizing health systems, building manufacturing and industrialization capacities, or sustaining peace by creating quality jobs and delivering services, no country in the world has achieved these ambitions without abundant and affordable access to energy.

Bitsat Yohannes-Kassahun is the Programme Management Officer at the UN Office of the Special Adviser for Africa.Access to energy will make or break the continent’s effort to tackle climate change effects, including adverse weather events, water scarcity and significant threats to livelihoods.

However, Africans are getting the short end of the stick in the global race to combat climate change when it comes to energy.

First, the promised financing to invest in reliable energy systems and adaptation is trickling very slowly to where it is needed most.

Second, Africa could be handicapped if the global-level policies designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions and the proposed timelines toward net-zero emissions do not take the continent’s unique and nuanced circumstances into account.

Looking ahead at what 2022 holds for Africa’s quest for equitable energy access, it would be remiss not to reflect on three major events that took place in 2021 namely, the High-Level Dialogue on Energy (HLDE), the Food Systems Summit and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26).

Among other factors, energy remains vital to the full implementation of promises made at these events. In the roadmap that ensued after the HLDE, UN Secretary-General António Guterres set a target date of 2025 to ensure 500 million more people gain access to electricity and 1 billion more people gain access to clean cooking solutions.

The Food Systems Summit called for a transformation in global food systems “in ways that contribute to people’s nutrition, health and well-being, restore and protect nature, are climate neutral, adapted to local circumstances, and provide decent jobs and inclusive economies.”

The COP 26 outcome document calls for bold and strengthened goals by countries to reduce emissions through more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for COP 27.

What do these mean for African countries? These ambitious proposals require massive investments in capacity building, infrastructure development and regulations. Indeed, the amounts needed are much more than anything currently on the table.

While significant financial pledges have been made at these summits, African countries are wary of them being fulfilled, and rightfully so. Developed countries are still “progressing” towards delivering the $100 billion by 2020 climate finance goal (a broken promise) and now hope to reach it by 2023.

Added to previous failed promises, trust has further been eroded with a significantly varied and unequal pace of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic evidenced, for example, in the mismatch between promised COVID-19 vaccine distribution pledges versus what has been delivered for African countries.

There are increasing calls for the private sector to fill these financing gaps. However, the private sector inherently operates on a profit-making model that differs from the public good model expected of the public sector. It requires tailored incentives, foolproof technologies that can guarantee certain profit margins, and risk minimization models for the sector to come in at a large enough scale.

In addition, the nuanced approach and extended timelines needed for Africa to achieve a balanced energy mix are getting lost in the shuffle. African countries should not be confined to limited options or cornered into untenable paths to energy access, especially with the call for public finance institutions to stop international support for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector in 2022.

The stakes are high for Africa to get it right, hence this urgent call to action towards building the continent’s energy systems. Energy presents a compelling multiplier effect for Africa’s renaissance. It is the cornerstone to ensuring food security by improving efficiency in food production, storage, transportation, and job creation through value addition.

Reductions in post-harvest losses, combined with improved cooking solutions, would have an added benefit of minimizing deforestation. Africa’s industrial revolution and achieving the African Continental Free Trade Area’s potential hinge on access to reliable, affordable, and adequate energy.

Finally, energy access is among the major building blocks to deliver services, adapt to climate risks and provide sustainable livelihoods, ensuring the continent’s peace, security and development for the next generation.

As we prepare for COP 27, we cannot be complacent. We must jointly advocate for Africa’s equitable future through a balanced energy mix and realistic timelines. We owe it to all Africans—past, present and future—to move beyond negotiating for the bare minimum.

Source: Africa Renewal, January 2022


Follow IPS News UN Bureau on Instagram

© Inter Press Service (2022) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service


Related news

Latest news

In-depth

Latest news

Read the latest news stories:

A Special Adviser to Probe Racism and Discrimination at UN Thursday, January 27, 2022Road to COP27: Why Africa cannot be Complacent on Energy, Climate Change Thursday, January 27, 2022Tonga tsunami: ‘Kids were screaming as if a war was upon us’ Wednesday, January 26, 2022Military solution for Syria remains ‘an illusion’: Pedersen Wednesday, January 26, 2022WHO: New guidance on treating complications due to unsafe abortion Wednesday, January 26, 2022COVID-19 cases in the Americas reach highest level yet Wednesday, January 26, 2022Heatwave and Drought Hit South America’s Crops and Economy Wednesday, January 26, 2022Bachelet: ‘We need to push back against hatred’ Wednesday, January 26, 2022‘We cannot abandon the people of Afghanistan’ Guterres tells Security Council Wednesday, January 26, 2022Future of Coral Reefs in the Time of Climate Change Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Source: globalissues.org

World News

Attacking Iran Is a Recipe for a Catastrophe

Avatar

Published

on

Opinion by Alon Ben-Meir (new york)Monday, January 31, 2022Inter Press Service

Righting the Wrong

Israel’s repeated threats to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities irrespective of any outcome in the negotiations in Vienna between the P5+1 (France, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, the US, and Germany) and Iran is a recipe for disaster.

Prime Minister Bennett’s argument that Israel will not abide by any agreement, not only because Israel is not a party in the negotiations but because Israel alone will determine what’s best to safeguard its national security, is a fallacy.

Given the complexity and the far-reaching implications of a potential Israeli attack, the only proper path to address Iran’s nuclear program is by fully coordinating and developing a joint strategy with the US to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambition to acquire nuclear weapons while seeking an end to the conflict.

It is critical that the Bennett-Lapid government not repeat Netanyahu’s disastrous mistake of opposing the JCPOA, which subsequently Netanyahu persuaded Trump to withdraw from altogether. As a result of the US’ withdrawal from the deal, Iran has only advanced its nuclear weapons program—enriching a significant amount of uranium to 60 percent, which is only a short leap to enriching it to weapons-grade 90 percent, and in enough quantity to produce one nuclear weapon in short order.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said recently, “The reason we’re in the situation we’re in right now is because the previous administration pulled out of the Iran deal and we are paying the wages of that catastrophic mistake.”

Bennett’s repeated threats to attack Iran could lead to miscalculation and dire unintended consequences that Israel cannot possibly cope with on its own. Israel must work hand-in-hand with the US to address Iran’s nuclear program now and in the future, and must not resort to a military option without the full support of the US.

The Bennett government must carefully consider the ominous outcome such an attack could precipitate, from which Israel as well as the entire region will suffer unimaginably.

The ominous repercussions of an Israeli attack

Israel’s repeated threats are unwise and do nothing but provide Iran ample time to prepare for any contingency. Mossad director David Barnea recently stated that “Iran will not have nuclear weapons—not in the coming years, not ever. This is my personal commitment: This is the Mossad’s commitment.”

Knowing the Iranian mindset, such a statement is counterproductive and does nothing but stiffen Iran’s position. Even if Israel is planning such an attack, advertising it repeatedly in advance drastically undermines its effectiveness.

Iran is already fortifying its air defenses, especially around its nuclear facilities, and putting in place offensive capabilities that can exact a heavy price from Israel should such an attack materialize. Indeed, Israel can inflict a devastating blow on Iran’s nuclear facilities, but it cannot destroy all of them nor the Iranian knowhow. Such an attack, however overwhelming, would only set back Iran’s nuclear program for two to three years.

It is a given that an Israeli attack would force Tehran to retaliate directly against Israel by firing ballistic missiles that can reach major Israeli cities, potentially causing widespread destruction and thousands of casualties. Iran will also ensure that Hezbollah, which is in possession of 150,000 rockets, will enter the fray and fire thousands of rockets that can reach every corner of the country.

Regardless of how effective Israel’s air defense may be, its Iron Dome and Arrow interceptors cannot possibly intercept tens of thousands of short, medium, and long-range rockets. Moreover, Hamas too may well join the fight, in addition to a third front with Syria, from where Iranian proxies will attack Israel. Israel’s economy will be shattered, and past conflagrations with Hamas alone attest to this fact.

Many Israeli military experts believe that Israel does not have the aerial capability to attack Iran more than once, nor can it destroy all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, as they are scattered around the country and several are built a hundred or more feet underground. It will require several days and multiple attacks, which Israel does not have the capability to conduct.

Although all the Arab Gulf states would like to see Iran’s nuclear facilities eliminated, they want to avoid a war because even a limited Israeli attack could engulf the entire region and beyond. In many conversations I had with officials from the Gulf, nearly all of them prefer containment of Iran’s nuclear program and deterrence spearheaded by the US to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and to ensure that Iran will be unable to threaten or intimidate its neighbors.

Finally, whereas Israeli attacks on Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear facilities (in 1981 and 2007, respectively) did not spread radioactive material into the atmosphere because no uranium was present, Iran has a stockpile of uranium purified to various degrees. Thus, an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would have disastrous environmental consequences.

From the Iranian perspective, acquiring nuclear weapons would deter any aggressor, including the US, from attacking it. Iran wants to stand on equal footing with Sunni Pakistan to its east and Jewish Israel to its west, both of whom are nuclear powers.

This partly explains why Iran does not bend easily and why it is assuming such a hard position at the negotiations in Vienna, even though it wants badly to have the sanctions lifted to salvage its ailing economy.

The need for a full US-Israeli collaboration

Attacking Iran without the US’ acquiescence, if not outright support, will seriously undermine Israel-US relations which Jerusalem cannot afford. Collaboration and coordination between the two countries is and will remain central in dealing effectively with Iran.

This is particularly important because the Iranian clergy wants to avoid any military confrontation with the US, fearing a disastrous outcome. Indeed, a US military assault on Iran could precipitate regime change, which the Iranian leadership fears the most and wants to prevent at any cost.

For this reason, to deter Iran, it is critical for the Bennett-Lapid government to work closely with the Biden administration and support any new agreement that may be reached between Iran and the P5+1. The Biden administration is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and Israel must trust the US to do whatever necessary to that end, especially because Israel cannot and must not act alone.

The failure or the success to reach a new agreement

Should the P5+1 fail to reach a new agreement, the US and Israel must develop a joint strategy to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons based on containment and deterrence. This includes the imposition of additional crippling sanctions, cyber-attacks on vital Iranian installations, and sabotaging its nuclear facilities, among other disabling measures.

In addition, the US should make it clear that all options are on the table, including military force, which could pose a significant risk of regime change, which terrifies Iran. In addition, the US should seriously consider a strategic game-changer move by providing a nuclear umbrella to cover Israel and the Gulf states.

Should a new agreement be reached, which seems increasingly likely, it will be expected to include rolling back the number of operational centrifuges and reducing the quantity and the enrichment quality of uranium, while extending the sunset clauses beyond the original dates to prevent Iran from resuming its nuclear weapons program within a few years. In addition, a new deal will obviously restore the most stringent and infallible monitoring system to thwart Iran from cheating.

Beyond these measures, however, the US must strive to end the conflict with Iran on a more permanent basis. The Biden administration ought to initiate back-channel talks to address Iran’s nefarious regional activity, its arming and financially aiding of extremist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, its ballistic missile program, and its hegemonic ambitions.

In addition, due to Israel’s profound and legitimate concerns about its national security, the Biden administration must make it unequivocally clear to Iran that it must end its repeated existential threats against Israel. Iran’s clergy must understand that such threats could precipitate a disastrous conflagration—intentional or unintentional—that could engulf the entire region from which Iran will suffer greatly.

In return, if Iran embraces such a moderate path, the US should promise publicly that it will not seek now or at any time in the future regime change, which for the clergy is a do-or-die proposition. Moreover, the US would embark on a gradual normalization of relations on all fronts.

To be sure, when there is a breakdown in any conflict there is often an opportunity for a breakthrough. Iran does not want to remain a pariah state and always be on the defensive, and the US and Israel will be much better off if Iran joins the community of nations as a constructive player on the international stage.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a retired professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University (NYU). He taught courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies for over 20 years.
[email protected]www.alonben-meir.com


Follow IPS News UN Bureau on Instagram

© Inter Press Service (2022) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

Original Source: globalissues.org

Continue Reading

World News

Team From UN Mission in Colombia Attacked, Vehicles Torched

Avatar

Published

on

Friday, January 28, 2022UN News

In a statement, the mission condemned the attack suffered by its local team in Puerto Nuevo, Guaviare, when it was carrying out a joint mission with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and a non-governmental organization. 

The joint mission, made up of three vehicles, was heading to the rural area of Guayabero to meet with communities in the area, when they were approached by armed individuals who made them get out of the vehicles.

Two of the three vehicles were incinerated a few minutes later at the scene. 

Bogotá, Colombia’s capital., by Unsplash/Claus Pacheco

The UN Mission reiterated its concern over continuing acts of violence in so-called priority areas for the implementation of the 2016 Peace Agreement with FARC rebels, and condemned any attempts to intimidate UN and humanitarian staff, by armed groups. 

The UN will continue to support Colombians in their efforts to consolidate peace in the country, the mission said.

Security Council

On Thursday, the Security Council reiterated its full and unanimous support for the peace process in Colombia.

In a statement, the Council Members highlighted the fifth anniversary of the Final Peace Agreement, celebrated in November of last year. 

They echoed the Secretary-General’s observation, when visiting the country during the anniversary, that “historic progress” was “taking root” but also that “formidable challenges” remain. 

The members also welcomed the way in which the anniversary “led to renewed focus by all parties on the need to consolidate this progress and address these challenges.”

As Colombia prepares for congressional and presidential elections, the Council stressed the importance of taking the necessary steps to ensure safe, peaceful and inclusive participation, including the full, equal and meaningful participation of women. 

They also reiterated their concern regarding the persistent threats, attacks and killings targeting former FARC-EP members, as well as community and social leaders, including women and those from indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.

© UN News (2022) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: UN News

Article: globalissues.org

Continue Reading

World News

When Will Countries Ever Learn How Well to Do Fuel Subsidy Reforms?

Avatar

Published

on

View of downtown Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. Credit: World Bank/Shynar JetpissovaOpinion by Alan Gelb, Anit Mukherjee (washington dc)Friday, January 28, 2022Inter Press Service

Amid alarming reports of deadly violence in Kazakhstan, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Asia called for restraint and dialogue. 6 January 2022

Protestors are out on the streets, clashing violently with security forces called in to maintain law and order. They vent their frustration not only with rising fuel prices but also with living costs, lack of social services, crumbling infrastructure, corruption and political repression.

Faced with the prospect of a popular uprising, the government backtracks on reforms and re-institutes subsidies, postponing the hard decisions for a later date.

This is Kazakhstan in 2022. It is also Ecuador in 2019, Nigeria in 2012, Bolivia in 2010, Indonesia in 2005 and several other energy exporters which have tried to end, or at least reduce, fuel subsidies over the last two decades.

The list will grow significantly if we include importers who are more exposed to the vagaries of international energy prices. What is interesting is that the story plays out in almost exactly the same way, and the consequences of both action – and inaction – are very similar as well.

For resource rich countries like Kazakhstan, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nigeria, subsidized energy, especially from fossil fuels, is one of the few tangible ways by which citizens can feel that they have a claim to a national resource.

While the level of subsidies varies, at some $228 dollars per head or 2.6% of GDP in 2020, those of Kazakhstan are high but not the highest among exporters. In a situation where the government is generally perceived to be repressive, incompetent and corrupt, food and fuel subsidies keep a lid on deeper grievances. It is economically damaging but politically expedient, a delicate equilibrium that many countries have sought to manage over the last several decades – with little success.

Our research has shown that there is a better way to do energy subsidy reform. Providing direct cash transfers to compensate for the rise in energy prices can be a “win-win” solution. To put it simply, energy compensatory transfers (ECT) enable households, especially the poor and the vulnerable, to absorb the shock and reallocate resources as per their needs.

By removing the arbitrage between subsidized and market prices, ECTs can also reduce corruption, improve distribution and incentivize efficient use of energy. Countries like Iran, India, Jordan and the Dominican Republic have been relatively successful in this type of reform, and their experience holds lessons for other countries that choose to embark on this path.

Digital technology can help significantly to identify beneficiaries, provide them necessary guidance and information, and transfer payments directly to individuals and households. Three key enablers of ECTs are an identification system with universal coverage of the population, strong communications and wide access to financial accounts.

Multiple databases can be cross-checked to verify eligibility norms and grievance redressal systems can help reduce exclusion of genuine beneficiaries. As shown, for example, by India’s LPG subsidy reform, countries can progressively tighten the eligibility criteria over time to target the poorest sections of the population.

Finally, ECTs can provide the impetus for a more transparent and accountable system of subsidy management, helping improve public confidence and support to the government’s reform agenda over the long run.

So, why don’t more countries follow this approach? For one, most energy subsidy reforms are pushed forward in times of economic crisis. ECTs require political commitment, openness to engage in public dialogue, building consensus among stakeholders and powerful vested interests, setting up implementation systems and working across different government ministries, departments and agencies.

Direct compensation is also more transparent than the frequently opaque systems of price subsidization that favor the rich, with their higher energy consumption, even if justified by the need to protect the poor.

ECTs are not simple solutions and often require time to be put in place. On the surface, it may seem simpler to just raise energy prices overnight through an administrative order. But the payoffs are significant in terms of sustainability, economic outcomes, social cohesion and political stability.

The sooner countries can take a longer term approach, the better will they be able to manage the transition to a more sustainable system that supports those who need it most.

Kazakhstan is the first country in 2022 to see popular unrest due to fuel price hike. It almost certainly would not be the last.

Anit Mukherjee is a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. Alan Gelb is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.


Follow IPS News UN Bureau on Instagram

© Inter Press Service (2022) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service


Related news

Latest news

In-depth

Latest news

Read the latest news stories:

Boys Sold by Trusted Villager Turned Human Trafficker Friday, January 28, 2022When Will Countries Ever Learn how Well to do Fuel Subsidy Reforms? Friday, January 28, 2022Griffiths to Security Council: ‘Your responsibility is not over’ to Syrian people Thursday, January 27, 2022In central Sahel, ‘needs are growing faster than generosity’ Thursday, January 27, 2022UNICEF providing aid for children caught up in Syria prison siege Thursday, January 27, 2022Food insecurity soaring across 20 hunger hotspots Thursday, January 27, 2022UN report finds nature conservation funding must triple globally this decade Thursday, January 27, 2022A Special Adviser to Probe Racism and Discrimination at UN Thursday, January 27, 2022UN remembers ‘unprecedented horror and calculated cruelty’ of the Holocaust Thursday, January 27, 2022Road to COP27: Why Africa cannot be Complacent on Energy, Climate Change Thursday, January 27, 2022

Original Post: globalissues.org

Continue Reading

Trending

Chimed.com