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EDITORIAL

COP26: Africa’s Challenges Must Steer the Climate Change Conference

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The 26th session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties, popularly known as COP26, is happening at a time when the world has just experienced one of the warmest years on record. The year 2020 reached temperatures that were about 1.02°C warmer than average. These kinds of extremes, driven by climate change, are being felt intensely across Africa.

Greenhouse gases – such as carbon dioxide and methane – are largely to blame for the changes to the climate. Some of the sun’s energy is reflected back to space and is trapped by these gases leading to a warming of the earth. Increased concentrations of these gases in our atmosphere leads to global warming and consequently climate climate.

Africa carries the heaviest burden of the associated climate change effects, despite contributing less than 5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Industrialised countries – namely China, the US, India, Russia and Japan – top the list in the emission of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide.

Africa is the most vulnerable continent to the effects of climate change due to its low adaptive capacity, as a result of financial and technological limitations, and an over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture. The continent is also witnessing a higher rate of warming than the global average of 0.15°C per decade between 1951 and 2020. Given the observed global warming, it is projected that the continent will experience an increase in hot extremes and more frequent and intense rainfall extremes.

The projected changes in climate are likely to cause devastating impacts across the continent. The current case of food insecurity as a result of drought in East Africa is a case in point.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that sub-Saharan Africa has loses of over US$520 million in direct economic damages annually as a result of climate change since the beginning of this century. The cost of implementing the continent’s response to the challenges posed by climate change is estimated at between US$7 billion and US$15 billion annually. This is projected to shoot to US$35 billion per year by 2050. Consider this, by 2050 climate change is projected to cost Africa 4.7% of its GDP while North America will lose 1.1% of its GDP.

African countries cannot be ignored, or just listened to. Their needs should shape the agenda. There must be action that immediately addresses the challenges facing the continent.

How can the world come to recognise the magnitude of all this? COP26 provides that platform.

Revisiting the Paris Agreement

The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Paris Agreement, created in 2015, aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. Essentially, the agreement brought all countries together in a common effort to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.

The agreement provides a framework for financial and technical support to countries who need it. It also obliges developed countries to support developing countries in their mitigation and adaptation efforts – because they are largely responsible for the losses and costs associated with climate change.

The developed nations promised to raise US$100 billion a year to support climate change adaptation and mitigation in vulnerable countries. However, reports show that this pledge has fallen short by at least US$20 billion since 2018. Unfortunately, there are no clear plans provided by the “rich” nations on how this deficit will be met. This is the time to hold them accountable.

COP26 Platform

At COP26, countries will launch an adaptation goal and adopt strategies for achieving such a goal. This presents African countries with the opportunity to shape the agenda, once more.

Leaders of African countries should approach the convention with a strong, unified voice, presenting their climate change concerns and needs.

The negotiation outcomes at COP26 must succeed in favour of Africa and other developing countries by:

  • Making finance more accessible and faster to African and other developing countries.
  • Developed nations must pledge to boost non-financial efforts in climate change adaptation, such as education.
  • A re-commitment of climate finance in line with the revised nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

In addition, African countries should continue to remind developed nations of the need to complement local adaptation efforts with global emission reductions. The concentration of carbon dioxide is on an upward trend, despite a dip in 2020 as a result of economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The G20 countries account for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions with China alone emitting nearly 25% of the global emissions, closely followed by the US.

Despite emitting the least greenhouse gases, African countries have sought to mitigate the effects of climate change. On average, by 2019, African countries were already spending about 5% of their annual GDP to support adaptation and mitigation initiatives, exceeding their contributions to climate change. In addition, regional organisations such as the African Adaptation Initiative are doing their best to build Africa’s resilience in the agricultural sector.

Most African countries have explored renewable energy resources that can help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. There have also been numerous carbon sequestration initiatives, among other environmentally sustainable investments, running across the continent.

For instance, Morocco has taken the lead globally in production of solar energy, saving the world from over 760,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually. The harnessing of geothermal energy in Kenya is another notable initiative to reduce the country’s emissions by 32% by 2030.

African countries are playing their part. But it rests on the shoulders of all nations to stay committed to deliver on the Paris Agreement’s promise of a fair, equitable, robust response to climate change.

The Conversation


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EDITORIAL

Celebrating a Decade of Resilience and Impact: Our Journey in Fostering Islamic Economics in Africa

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On the 13th of December, 2023, the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation (AFRIEF), clocked ten years as an organization. Surviving as an organization in itself speaks volumes about our strength, resilience, determination, and adaptability. Despite facing various challenges, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to promoting Islamic economic principles and sharing news and developments in the Islamic economy.

Against all odds, we have continued to actively engage with the Islamic economy community, fostering connections, promoting dialogue, and contributing to the intellectual growth of the field. This accomplishment is a testament to our vision, perseverance, and commitment to its mission.

Over the past decade, we have successfully established a presence and created a platform for dialogue across the continent. Through conferences, seminars, and workshops, we have brought together scholars, experts, and stakeholders from various African countries to exchange ideas, share experiences, and promote a better understanding of Islamic economic principles.

We have been instrumental in advancing research and scholarship in the field of Islamic economics. Through rigorous academic studies and publications, we have contributed to the body of knowledge surrounding Islamic economics, addressing both the theoretical and practical aspects. These research publications have not only enhanced understanding but also provided valuable insights for policymakers and practitioners.

Last November, we held a virtual and impersonal Summits on Islamic finance and healthcare financing in Abuja, Nigeria. These summits are not only innovative and noteworthy achievements but demonstrate our commitment to exploring new avenues within Islamic economics to addressing critical sectors, such as finance and healthcare. What is more, these summits serve as a testament to our forward-thinking approach and commitment to driving positive change in crucial sectors. Through such innovative initiatives, we have established ourselves as key players in promoting Islamic economics, influencing policy discussions, and contributing to the sustainable development of Africa

The publication of the news website and the weekly e-newsletter, “Focus on the Islamic Economy,” is another testament to our dedication to disseminating valuable information to Islamic economy intellectuals and professionals worldwide. Through quality and unbiased journalism we have been able to establish a platform for knowledge-sharing and keeping the community updated, thus becoming a trusted source of insights, trends, and advancements in the field.

Recognizing the importance of education, we have prioritized capacity building initiatives like training programs, workshops, and online courses, and empowered individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the intersection of Islamic principles and economic practices. This has resulted in a growing pool of professionals equipped to contribute to the development of Africa’s Islamic economic sector.

We have also played a vital role in fostering entrepreneurship and economic development within Africa, through our flagship initiatives, Innovate Africa Program (IAP) and the Halal Business Transformation Program (HBTP). This support for innovative business ideas and providing access to funding, mentorship, and networks, is nurturing a thriving ecosystem of Islamic-inspired entrepreneurs and ventures in the Continent. These initiatives have not only contributed to economic growth but also emphasized ethical business practices aligned with Islamic values.

As we celebrate our  tenth year anniversary, it is an opportune moment to reflect on the remarkable journey of survival and the positive impact we have made in the Islamic economics landscape in Africa and beyond. May the coming years bring even greater achievements and continued success to the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation.


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EDITORIAL

COP OUT

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The world’s leaders are not coming to save us. That was the message in brilliant technicolor from the 28th COP meeting that concluded in Dubai about a fortnight ago.

Yes, COP28 was a catastrophic failure, but that failure is not down to the individual frailties of the negotiators present. It was preordained. COP can’t work while the global balance of forces remain as they are.

With no mechanism to force the rich countries of the North to pay to support the South to both adapt to climate change and for the loss and damage they suffer from climate breakdown, targets for finance and technology transfers will never be met. That’s why the global commitment to raise $100 billion per year for climate finance is pushed back every year and the much touted Loss and Damage fund, which is projected to need over $200 billion per year by 2030, has amassed only $700 million in commitments – not even hard cash. The US pledged just $17 million to the fund. Compare that with the $14 billion of weaponry for Israel to pursue its campaign of murder and destruction in Gaza.

$100 billion dollars sounds like a lot of money – and it would be for Southern states adapting to the worst impacts of climate breakdown – but it is just around one tenth of one percent of global economic output. But COP’s biggest structural flaw isn’t even the stingy hypocrisy of the Global North. It’s the overweening power of Big Oil in the global system.

This dominance was on full display in Dubai, giving satire its second death after Henry Kissinger’s Nobel Prize. The conference was presided over by the CEO of an oil company and was lousy with fossil fuel lobbyists, whose number quadrupled to 2,400, making them the largest delegation by far.

So it should come as no shock that COP28, like all previous COPs before it failed to agree on the need to phase out fossil fuels and to set a deadline for doing so. Instead, the final document suggests that states may – with no obligations – “draw down” fossil fuel production. The demands from over 120 countries to completely eliminate new fossil fuel production were ignored.

Climate breakdown cannot be averted without addressing the first order issue: fossil fuels power our global system. That has to change. Increasing investment in cleaner energy sources alone won’t do the job. COP28 agreed on tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030, but, as we’ve seen with the policies of Joe Biden, President of the world’s biggest oil producer, expanding clean energy investment is compatible with expanding fossil fuel investment.

Investment in fossil fuels continues to soar because it is profitable and we live under capitalism. As we have seen in the past two years, rising prices have meant bumper profits and therefore increased investment in fossil fuels. While rising interest rates puts downward pressure on renewables investment, which is much more capital intensive at the front end.

The world system as it is won’t save us, but rather condemns us to live on a planet that becomes less and less hospitable to human life as we know it. 2023 has been a year of catastrophic extreme weather, from monster heatwaves in Europe to a flooding emergency in Libya and a continental inferno in Canada. January to October was 1.43 degrees above pre-industrial average. Next year will be worse, breaking new records as El Niño accelerates global heating to above 1.5°C, a threshold that risks setting off a cascade of irreversible tipping points.

Next year’s COP 29 will be held in another oil-producing state with no interest in ending fossil fuels, Azerbaijan. This is the dilemma: humanity is trapped in an overheating train helmed by fossil capitalists structurally obliged to fan the flames. Our task is to unite and organise the social forces that can seize the engine room and pull the emergency brake. No more cop-outs.


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EDITORIAL

Tribute to Prof Dr. Syed Khalid Rashid

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We dedicate this week’s editorial to celebrate the life and legacy of our brother and friend, Prof Dr. Syed Khalid Rashid, a renowned academic and expert in Islamic law, who passed away on December 15, leaving behind a remarkable legacy of scholarship and contributions to the field of waqf development.

With a heavy heart, we bid farewell to a true visionary, scholar, and mentor. Prof Rashid was a beacon of knowledge, dedicating his life to the pursuit of learning and the sharing of wisdom. His passion for education was unparalleled, inspiring countless students to embrace their curiosity and immerse themselves in the pursuit of knowledge. His contributions to his field were immense, leaving an indelible impact on the academic community.

Professor Rashid was a prolific writer and researcher, authoring several books and articles on Islamic law and Waqf. His most notable works include “Waqf (Laws and Administration)” and “Muslim Law,” which are considered essential references for scholars and practitioners in the field.

Professor Rashid’s work on waqf is particularly significant in light of the growing importance of waqf as a tool for social and economic development in Muslim societies. waqf has been used to fund a wide range of projects, including mosques, schools, hospitals, and other charitable institutions. Professor Rashid’s scholarship has helped to provide a sound legal framework for the establishment and administration of waqf, ensuring that these charitable endowments are used effectively and in accordance with Islamic law.

In addition to his academic contributions, Professor Rashid also played an active role in waqf development through his involvement in various waqf organizations and initiatives. He served as a member of the board of directors of several waqf foundations and was a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops on waqf. It is significant to mention that the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation (AFRIEF) missed him debuting our monthly colloquium.

Through his groundbreaking research, Prof Rashid opened new avenues of understanding, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and fostering innovation. Beyond his professional accomplishments, Prof Rashid touched the lives of those around him with his kindness, compassion, and unwavering support. Most of us, including his students and colleagues would remember him as a mentor who nurtured our potential and encouraged us to reach for the stars.

Prof Rashid’s legacy lives on through the countless minds he shaped, the research he conducted, and the knowledge he imparted. He was a pillar of wisdom and a true inspiration to all who had the privilege to learn from him.

Today, as we bid farewell to Prof Sayed Khalid Rashid, let us not mourn his loss, but instead celebrate the incredible life he lived. May his memory serve as a constant reminder to embrace knowledge, nurture curiosity, and always strive for excellence.  Prof Syed Khalid Rashid, though you have passed on to the glorious life of eternity, your contributions to knowledge will forever be cherished, and your light will continue to guide future generations. May Allah SWT grant him Aljannat ul Firdaus.


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