Climate change in depth

The European Union has been at the forefront of action on climate change – both in driving international negotiations towards a global agreement, and in setting ambitious targets and policies to reduce carbon emissions within the EU.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that ‘Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change and climate variability’. This is compounded by the region’s existing development challenges, and results in ‘weak adaptive capacity’.

As early as 2003, the European Commission has sought to integrate climate concerns within EU development policy. While funding is a major factor in addressing climate change, aid alone is not the answer: effective institutions, networks, technology and research are all needed for low carbon, sustainable development. The broad scope of the Africa-EU Partnership, which addresses much more than just development, can play a decisive role in this respect.

The Africa-EU Partnership on climate change seeks to build consensus, including on an international/multilateral level. Despite the difficulties in reaching a global accord within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), both European and African partners remain committed to reaching a strengthened, fair and effective agreement.

In 2008, EU and AU issued a joint declaration on climate change, together identifying areas for action, including capacity building, investment and financing, and water resources management. Africa and the EU also cooperate within the broader framework of EU-ACP relations, for example issuing a declaration ahead of 2012’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

The objectives of Africa-EU cooperation on climate change, set out in the 2011-2013 Action Plan, are:

  • Strengthen African capacities for climate change adaptation and mitigation, including for reducing disaster risk and combating desertification and deforestation.
  • Work towards common Africa-EU positions on climate change issues, namely regarding the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
  • Reinforce coherence between the international climate change negotiations carried out under the aegis of UNFCCC, and the Africa-EU partnership.

Expected outcomes are:

  • Improved integration of climate change / desertification / deforestation issues into African national / regional development strategies and in Africa-EU development cooperation.
  • Concrete initiatives to build Africa’s capacity to adapt to and mitigate adverse effects of climate change through: building capacity of national delegations ahead of climate negotiation; improving access to the carbon market; operationalising the CLIMDEV Africa Programme; fighting deforestation and soil degradation through the GGWSSI and similar initiatives; improving implementation of climate adaptation measures, including through the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA), the platform for cooperation between the EU and vulnerable developing countries; and building capacity of planners and policymakers to use earth observation data.
  • A strengthened Africa-EU dialogue on climate, in particular linked to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
  • Harmonised approaches to adaptation and mitigation.
  • Better integration of earth observation data in national development processes.


Page last updated July 2013