Speaking the Nations Mind

Osinbajo Seeks Support For Zero Emissions, Access To COVID-19 Vaccine

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called on the United States to support the call for a just global transition to zero emissions and lead the effort to ensure easy access to COVID-19 vaccines by all countries.

He also urged the US to reset its foreign policy agenda on Africa in ways that bring about economic prosperity, increased security and improved governance.

Osinbajo expressed these views yesterday in a speech delivered virtually at the 2021 Johns Hopkins University’s African Studies Programme Conference on the theme: “Africa-US Re-engagement: A New Foreign Policy Agenda.”

He said: “The United States and Africa should work together to tackle climate change and moderate global warming, including through an energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies. “African countries have made commitments in this regard towards implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement targets.

“Given the long term commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050, there is a growing trend among development finance institutions to withdraw from fossil fuel investment, including the World Bank’s decision to cease funding for upstream oil and gas development and the new restrictions on financing downstream gas development currently being considered by the European Union, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States.

“While well-intentioned, this move does not take into account the principles of common but differentiated responsibility and leaving no one behind, that are enshrined into global treaties around sustainable development and climate action. The United States must lend its weight to stopping this manifestly unfair trend that can undermine the sense of collective responsibility we all have towards mitigating climate change. What is required is a just transition to zero emissions.”

Osinbajo, commending the US for helping to improve healthcare outcomes in Africa, called for the same spirit of collaboration on making COVID-19 vaccines available to African countries’.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need to coordinate actions to prevent and tackle pandemics while also building up public health infrastructure in developed and developing countries alike. This is not a time for vaccine nationalism and export bans but rather of working together towards universal vaccination against the disease. The United States can lead in the effort to ensure that all countries and their peoples can access vaccines irrespective of the resources available to them,” he stated.

While calling on the US to reset its foreign policy agenda with Africa, Osinbajo noted that the reviewed cooperation with the continent should promote a partnership that brings about economic prosperity, increases security, combats disease, improves governance and mitigates climate change.

On the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area ( AfCFTA) , the vice president said the United States was well placed to lead trade and investment ties with Africa.

“And it has a good leg-in with the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA),” he added.

On improving the support of the US in combating terrorism in the Sahel region, Osinbajo said a more robust intervention towards clearing the reign of terror in the region was desirable.

He, however, said Africa should not be seen or used as a pawn in great power games nor as an arena in the contest to secure strategic minerals and natural resources but rather as a partner in building a more secure, peaceful and prosperous world.

“While it is evident that the threat of violent extremist organisations is growing, it will appear that US policy (United States Africa Command) has since 2020 shifted from a strategy of degrading violent extremist organisations in West Africa to simply containing their spread.

“The escalation of the attacks and the synergies being created among these extremist groups call for a review of that position. It may be the moment for a more robust intervention along the lines of US-backed operations in clearing terrorists and insurgents in the Middle East. Since the United States is also a global leader in economic and military terms as well as through its contributions to the norms that shape the global order, it should work with Africa either under the auspices of the African Union or indeed through individual countries like Nigeria to build a better world,” Osinbajo stated

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