At a preparatory meeting for COP27, African countries demanded that the West stop placing the fight against global warming above that for the economic development of the continent.
It was last July. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced want to sell parcels of the Congo Basin to oil companies. Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, ambassador and expert in sustainable development, main representative of the country on climate issues and adviser to the Congolese Minister of Hydrocarbons, then explained: “Our priority is not to save the planet”. In other words: the DRC wants to bet on economic development more than on the fight against global warming, even if it is home to one of the lungs of the planet.
If he assured then that he did not want to be threatening, Tosi Mpanu Mpanu put forward a sizeable argument by recalling that Africa emits less than 4% of all the greenhouse gases on the planet and that it is not no question that it provides the same efforts as the rest of the world. “Perhaps it is time that we get a level playing field and that we are compensated”, summed up the specialist who, in half-words, believed that the fight against poverty must take precedence over that against global warming. .
This is, in essence, what the ministers and environmental specialists in the DRC discussed on Tuesday evening. The Sharm el-Sheikh 2022 pre-Conference meeting on climate change (COP27) was an opportunity for leaders to speak, "in a jiffy", about their feelings about the climate fight. The countries of the South have certainly agreed to mention “the urgency of climate action”. But there is a real lack of means for the forest countries that are the DRC, but also Brazil and Indonesia.
“We need oxygen, we also need bread”
During this meeting, the DRC recalled that it was having a hard time “making a choice” between the fight against “extreme poverty” and “the heavy bill to pay for adaptation to climate change”. Again, no threat. But a terrible observation. The Congo wants, from the West, "substantial technological and financial alternatives" so as not to have to make a difficult choice. Congolese Minister of the Environment Eve Bazaïba summarizes the dilemma thus: “We need oxygen, we also need bread”.
This anger is all the more understandable since the West, because of the Ukrainian conflict, has restarted certain coal-fired power stations. It would therefore be inappropriate for Brussels, therefore, to lecture Kinshasa on the plots put up for auction in the Congo Basin. For the United States, which is working to get the Congolese president to reconsider his decision, it is possible to "find a balance between the need to protect the Congo Basin and the requirements of development and job creation".
Lyrics. But the actions themselves take time to arrive. Because how to persuade African countries to embark on the fight to save the planet without having to give up their economic development? This is one of the questions that will be discussed during a COP27 which promises to be decisive.