By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo urged the United States to support the call for a just global transition to net zero emissions and lead the effort to ensure easy access to the COVID-19 vaccine by all country.
The vice president also called on the United States to generally reset its foreign policy agenda with the African continent in a way that promotes economic prosperity, increased security and improved governance.
Osinbajo spokesman Laolu Akande in a statement Monday in Abuja said the vice president delivered a speech virtually at the 2021 Johns Hopkins University Africa Studies Program conference.
The conference, on the theme “The Africa-United States Re-engagement: A New Foreign Policy Agenda”, was organized by the University’s Graduate School of International Studies (SAIS).
“The United States and Africa should work together to fight climate change and moderate global warming, including through an energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies.
“African countries are committed in this regard to implementing the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“Given the long-term commitment of net zero emissions by 2050, there is an increasing tendency for development finance institutions to withdraw from investments in fossil fuels,” he said.
According to him, this includes the World Bank’s decision to stop funding 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 initiative fails to take into account the principles of common but differentiated responsibility and leaving no one behind, which are enshrined in global treaties on sustainable development and climate action.
“The United States must lend its weight to end this blatantly unfair trend that can undermine the sense of collective responsibility we all have for climate change mitigation; what is needed is a just transition to zero emissions. “
Osinbajo had recently advocated for a just transition to net zero emissions, in particular calling on multilateral agencies and Western countries to stop the postponement of planned funding for gas projects in developing countries.
The Vice President commended the United States for helping to improve health care outcomes in Africa, including through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
He called for the same spirit of collaboration regarding the provision of COVID-19 vaccines in African countries.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need to coordinate actions to prevent and fight pandemics while strengthening public health infrastructure in developed and developing countries alike.
“Now is not the time for vaccine nationalism and export bans, but rather to work together for universal vaccination against the disease.
“The United States can lead the effort to ensure that all countries and their people can access vaccines, regardless of the resources they have,” he said.
According to Osinbajo, the revised cooperation with the continent should promote a partnership that brings economic prosperity, increased security, fight against disease, improve governance and mitigate climate change.
He said Africa was in many ways the last frontier of economic development as it had the potential to become a pole of global growth.
“Indeed, as other parts of the world look inward, Africa is moving with confidence to integrate its economies through the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as well as the creation of the African Union. African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA).
“The United States is well positioned to lead trade and investment relations with Africa. And he has a good relationship with the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
“The legislation, which removed all tariffs on 6,400 products available for export to the United States, has allowed some African countries to benefit significantly.”
On enhancing US support in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region, Osinbajo said a more robust intervention to end the reign of terror in the region was desirable.
He said that while it was evident that the threat from violent extremist organizations was increasing, it would appear that the US Africa Command has since 2020 shifted from a strategy of degrading violent extremist organizations in West Africa to simply contain their spread.
“The escalation of attacks and the synergies created between these extremist groups call for a review of this position.
“Perhaps now is the time for a more robust intervention in the direction of US-backed operations to eliminate terrorists and insurgents in the Middle East,” he said.
The vice president advocated that the relationship between the United States and Africa should not be one-dimensional.
Previously, the conference organizers praised the vice president for his leadership and commitment.
Professor Elliot Cohen, dean of the institution’s Graduate School of International Studies, said he was delighted that a professor had risen to the height of a vice president in any country.
Further, Professor Peter Lewis, the university’s Chair in African Studies, described Osinbajo as “a figure known for his integrity, dedication and efficiency.”
Osinbajo also answered questions from conference attendees.
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