You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, how dare you!, those were the famous words of climate activist Gretha Thurnberg at the UN climate Action summit in 2019, which dominated climate change conversations at the time. But the world has seen many other activists beckon for global action towards climate change, with not enough results. Increased heat, drought, and wildfires linked to climate change have been recorded in many parts of the world.
Likewise, it has been predicted that Africa will be most affected by Global warming. To put this into context, data from the world bank reveals that climate change will push 132million people into poverty over the next ten years and the vast majority will be from Africa. It has been six years since the Paris agreement was adopted and many countries have fallen short of their commitments to global reduction targets.
The Significance of COP 26
The COP 26 is particularly significant because it is the first one after the pandemic and importantly the first one which will review the net-zero promise of the Paris Climate Agreement. For innovators, the debate about climate financing will be critical. Broadly speaking, climate finance refers to the money needed to cater to all the activities that will slow down climate change and help the world meet its target of limiting global warming to an increase of 1.5C above preindustrial levels.
Research has shown that climate finance alongside existing technologies can significantly reduce emissions by as far as 60percent. Furthermore, investments in technologies like solar and carbon technologies can quickly reverse the rate of Global warming. For the world to reach its goal, it has to finance projects that help the reduction of harmful gasses as well as protect the ecosystems that capture those gasses, such as the seas and forests.
The challenges with climate finance are robust in themselves. While various developed countries pledged to jointly raise $100billion per year by 2021 to mitigate climate change, they have failed to reach the $100 billion benchmark. This means that the amount raised is not equivalent to the scale of challenges associated with mitigating Global warming.
Therefore, COP 26 stands to provide clarity on climate change finance obligations and how developed countries will deliver them.
Opportunities for Climate Tech innovators
Indeed, decarbonizing the environment comes with challenges as well as opportunities for technologists globally. Statistics show that in VC alone, funding to climate change tech grew more than five times between 2013 and 2019.
While most of the investment went to countries like the USA, China, and Europe, Africa had the least investment with 0.2% of all capital. According to the African report, the interest in climate technology has not translated efficiently in the African tech space. The announcement that Y-Combinator, one of Silicon Valley’s foremost accelerators, was admitting its largest cohort of African start-ups was disappointing. Of the 60+ African companies on their register, only a few were climate-tech-focused.
Climate finance represents a growing business opportunity for startups and innovators therefore, as a community, the COP 26 presents an opportunity to begin to seek funding opportunities for climate-related projects both locally and internationally. As a continent, Africa is predicted to be the most affected continent by climate change hence, in lieu of the agenda of the COP26, there is a need for African innovators to create technology that urgently tackles its challenges associated with Climate change, while sourcing for available funds internationally.