Africa shouldn’t need to beg for climate aid: Bank president

African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, left, is joined by Masen President Mustapha Bakkoury during an event at UN headquarters in New York. (AP/File)
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Updated 11 February 2020

Africa shouldn’t need to beg for climate aid: Bank president

  • The financing promised to cope with climate change ‘needs to be put on the table’

ADDIS ABABA: Africa shouldn’t have to beg for help in addressing climate change, the president of the African Development Bank said Tuesday, adding that polluting global powers “have to pay.”

Akinwumi Adesina said during an interview on the sidelines of the African Union summit that the financing promised to African countries to cope with the consequences of climate change “needs to be put on the table.”

Africa’s more than 1.2 billion people stand to suffer the most from global warming while contributing to it the least. The region is also the least equipped to deal with its effects, according to experts. Parts of Africa are warming at a faster pace than elsewhere, and climate experts have said warming Indian Ocean waters have contributed to more powerful cyclones and the worst locust outbreak in decades in East Africa.

African heads of state are increasingly blunt about the dangers ahead and the need for the rest of the world, including top polluters such as China and the US, to step up and contribute to Africa’s efforts to adapt. “There has to be climate justice,” Adesina said.

The African Development Bank is increasing its own climate financing to 40 percent of its total investments, he said, with such financing having doubled from $12.5 billion to $25 billion. Half of that money is for climate adaptation.

“Africa shouldn’t be in a situation wherein it is begging,” Adesina said. “We are not going to deal with climate change by talking about it.”

Africa has 15 percent of the world’s population, yet is likely to “shoulder nearly 50 percent of the estimated global climate change adaptation costs,” the bank said, noting the continent has seven of the 10 countries considered most vulnerable to climate change: Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

And yet “to date, energy-related CO2 emissions in Africa represented around 2 percent of cumulative global emissions,” the International Energy Agency said last year.

“Major emitting countries and industrial sectors have a particular responsibility” to act, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the AU summit. “If they don’t deliver, all our efforts will be in vain.”


Tanker off UAE sought by US over Iran sanctions ‘hijacked’

Updated 16 July 2020

Tanker off UAE sought by US over Iran sanctions ‘hijacked’

  • The circumstances of the hijack are still unclear and the boat has been tracked to Iranian waters

DUBAI: An oil tanker sought by the US over allegedly circumventing sanctions on Iran was hijacked on July 5 off the coast of the UAE, a seafarers organization said Wednesday.

Satellite photos showed the vessel in Iranian waters on Tuesday and two of its sailors remained in the Iranian capital.

It wasn’t immediately clear what happened aboard the Dominica-flagged MT Gulf Sky, though its reported hijacking comes after months of tensions between Iran and the US

David Hammond, the CEO of the United Kingdom-based group Human Rights at Sea, said he took a witness statement from the captain of the MT Gulf Sky, confirming the ship had been hijacked.

Hammond said that 26 of the Indian sailors on board had made it back to India, while two remained in Tehran, without elaborating.

“We are delighted to hear that the crew are safe and well, which has been our fundamental concern from the outset,” Hammond told The Associated Press.

Hammond said that he had no other details about the vessel.

TankerTrackers.com, a website tracking the oil trade at sea, said it saw the vessel in satellite photos on Tuesday in Iranian waters off Hormuz Island. 

Hormuz Island, near the port city of Bandar Abbas, is some 190 kilometers (120 miles) north of Khorfakkan, a city on the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates where the vessel had been for months.

The Emirati government, the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet did not respond to requests for comment. Iranian state media did not immediately report on the vessel and Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In May, the US Justice Department filed criminal charges against two Iranians, accusing them of trying to launder some $12 million to purchase the tanker, at that time named the MT Nautica, through a series of front companies. 

The vessel then took on Iranian oil from Kharg Island to sell abroad, the US government said.

Court documents allege the scheme involved the Quds Force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which is its elite expeditionary unit, as well as Iran’s national oil and tanker companies. The two men charged, one of whom also has an Iraqi passport, remain at large.

“Because a US bank froze the funds related to the sale of the vessel, the seller never received payment,” the Justice Department said. “As a result, the seller instituted a civil action in the UAE to recover the vessel.”

That civil action was believed to be still pending, raising questions of how the tanker sailed away from the Emirates after being seized by authorities there.

Data from the MT Gulf Sky’s Automatic Identification System tracker shows it had been turned off around 4:30 a.m. on July 5, according to ship-tracking website MarineTraffic.com. Ships are supposed to keep their AIS trackers on, but Iranian vessels routinely turn theirs off to mask their movements.

Meanwhile, the 28 Indian sailors on board the vessel found themselves stuck on board without pay for months, according to the International Labor Organization. It filed a report saying the vessel and its sailors had been abandoned by its owners since March off Khorfakkan. The ILO did not respond to a request for comment.

As tensions between Iran and the US heated up last year, tankers plying the waters of the Mideast became targets, particularly near the crucial Strait of Hormuz, the Arabian Gulf’s narrow mouth through which 20 percent of all oil passes. Suspected limpet mine attacks the US blamed on Iran targeted several tankers. Iran denied being involved, though it did seize several tankers.