Collaboration key to tackling climate change

AUTHOR: Segun Ogunsanya. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • “The first is for governments to create the regulatory environment that will drive collaborative climate action.’’ 

Government and business leaders from across the world are convening in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for COP 28, the latest “Conference of the Parties” to review progress on the 2015 Paris Agreement on tackling climate change.

It is significant to highlight the role business leaders from Africa, a continent at the centre of the climate emergency, will be playing at COP28 to help galvanise progress towards concrete action. 

I am proud to be part of the African Business Leaders Coalition, a partnership of CEOs dedicated to advancing sustainable growth, prosperity and development across the African continent. Our commitment goes beyond corporate pledges; it represents a collective determination to fulfil the climate commitments of African businesses. At COP28, we will stress the importance of an enabling policy environment for sustainable development and climate action in partnership with Africa’s private sector.

I strongly believe that progress on our continent towards the Paris Agreement goals can be achieved only through a solid public-private partnership, undertaken in an environment of settled rules and incentives. We are long past the days when it was assumed desirable outcomes could be achieved with the stroke of a minister’s pen, just as we abandoned the idea that businesses alone can magically conjure into existence the public goods and services that we all seek. 

As a representative of the ABLC, I urge African businesses and governments to come together to collaborate and to focus on the future. The progress, prosperity and sustainability of our beloved continent depends upon it. Serving 14 markets across Sub-Saharan Africa, Airtel Africa is acutely aware of the challenges faced by communities across the region – including the severe impact of climate change. In the absence of meaningful and rapid action, our customers, employees and communities will suffer some of the most serious consequences. 

At Airtel Africa, we are working relentlessly to reduce the carbon emissions from our business – throughout our operations and across our supply chain. We have committed to reducing our Scope 1 emissions (those generated by our own processes) and Scope 2 emissions (generated by bought-in energy) by 62 percent from the 2022 baseline by 2032, with net zero absolute emissions by 2050. This is to be achieved by improved energy efficiency, the deployment of renewable energy, and sustainable, efficient growth. 

In March, we joined the multi-stakeholder partnership to eliminate open waste burning from Africa. This collaborative effort targets a 60 percent reduction by 2030 and complete elimination of open waste burning by 2040. It requires a fundamental shift in public behaviour, effective policy frameworks and the rollout of sustainable infrastructure for waste management.

Collaboration is the key to combatting climate change and unlocking the immense potential our continent holds. At COP28, the ABLC will impress three major strategic imperatives on those present. The first is for governments to create the regulatory environment that will drive collaborative climate action. 

The second is for us all to accept the challenge of establishing decarbonisation targets and projects in areas where Africa can really benefit, such as green minerals and climate adaptation programmes. Finally, it will call for an increase in, and access to climate financing. 

Governments, regulatory bodies and development partners must play a pivotal role in creating an enabling environment that facilitates increased access to climate finance and clean technology. 

The writer, Segun Ogunsanya, is the group chief executive of Airtel Africa