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African leaders ask for more money from major polluters to fund climate change mitigation and adaptation

President William Ruto at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS) convened in Nairobi, Kenya. PHOTO/PRESIDENCY


The inaugural Africa Climate Summit convened in Nairobi, Kenya this week was a historic gathering that served as a unifying force against the impacts of climate change that have profound implications for Africa.

The summit’s agenda spanned a wide spectrum, encompassing extensive discussions on assessments, funding mechanisms, partnerships, commitments, and promises—all in the collective pursuit of combatting climate change.

However, one of the outstanding developments during the meeting, was the Nairobi Declaration in which African leaders proposed new global taxes and reforms to international financial institutions to fund climate change.

Nairobi Declaration

The Nairobi Declaration focuses on mobilizing financing to adapt to extreme weather, conserve natural resources, and develop renewable energy in Africa, which currently receives only 12% of the financing it needs to cope with climate change.

The declaration calls for major polluters and global financial institutions to commit more resources to help poorer nations and suggests a global carbon taxation regime, including a carbon tax on fossil fuel trade, maritime transport, and aviation.

It also advocates for reforms to the multilateral financial system and the development of a new Global Climate Finance Charter by 2025. African countries plan to take these proposals to the U.N. climate conference and COP28 summit for further discussion.

The Nairobi Declaration calls for wealthier nations, responsible for climate change, to invest in Africa rather than relying solely on aid during crises. This lack of financing remains a major issue in global carbon reduction efforts.

While some investors pledged approximately $23 billion for projects like solar microgrids and reforestation, it’s unclear how much represents actual commitments.

The summit aimed to amplify the argument for climate financing ahead of the United Nations global climate summit in Dubai later in the year.

According to New York Times, despite some key absences among African leaders, the request for concessional finance, including loans with favorable terms, could see large contributions from institutions like the World Bank and IMF in the near future.

The Kenyan delegation at Africa Climate Summit (ACS). PHOTO/PRESIDENCY

U.S. funding for climate aid is pending congressional approval, with hopes of allocating significant funding for climate-positive investments in lesser-developed countries.

Overall, the summit underscored the growing momentum in addressing climate change and the need for substantial financial commitment from wealthier nations.

Carbon credits production potential

William Asiko, from The Rockefeller Foundation, urged Africa to increase carbon credit production to 40% of its potential by 2030. While this was endorsed by some, critics argue for more climate finance in Africa, estimated at up to $1.3 trillion annually by 2025.

Carbon credits are a type of market-based instrument that allow organisations to address their greenhouse gas emissions. They are also known as carbon offsets.

The Rockefeller Foundation launched the African Carbon Market Initiative (ACMI) to boost carbon credit production, with concerns raised about potential negative impacts. The summit saw significant pledges, including $450 million from the United Arab Emirates.

Kenya also passed legislation to enter the global carbon credit market. National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula, emphasized African unity in addressing climate change, calling for resource allocation and climate legislation across Africa.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) which is hosting UN’s COP28 later this year is solidifying its position as a leader in carbon credits in Africa by committing hundreds of millions of dollars to generate carbon offsets on the continent and buy land from African governments.

A coalition of major UAE energy and financial companies announced their intention to purchase $450 million worth of carbon credits from Africa by 2030. While this move  generated excitement at the Africa Climate Summit, it also sparked criticism from environmental groups, who argue that carbon credits may divert attention from essential climate and biodiversity actions, such as ending fossil fuel expansion.

The African Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI) is at the forefront of this push, aiming to significantly increase carbon credit generation in Africa with support from UAE-based investors and organizations.

Additionally, UAE’s Blue Carbon is partnering with African governments to manage forests and produce carbon credits, a move that has garnered mixed reactions and raised concerns about land ownership and rights. Critics contend that carbon credits can perpetuate pollution and suggest alternative approaches for addressing climate change.

Climate finance

Africa Exim Bank (Afreximbank)’s President Prof. Benedict Oramah, who led a delegation at the Summit and emphasized the need for action on climate finance. The bank’s commitment focused on climate adaptation, including collaboration with Africa Risk Capacity to protect African economies from climate-induced food security crises.

Some of the dignitaries who attended the Africa Climate Summit (ACS). PHOTO/PRESIDENCY

Afreximbank also advocated for a global carbon tax to support climate insurance programs. Additionally, the bank supported African member states in navigating climate challenges by investing in infrastructure for a low-carbon transition and promoting renewable energy.

This participation followed Afreximbank’s involvement in COP27 in 2022 and a US$3 billion Country Programme with the Government of Kenya in May 2023, which included climate change adaptation initiatives. President Oramah highlighted Afreximbank’s significant contributions to Africa’s climate resilience and economic growth.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry highlighted the disproportionate impact of climate change on Africa and low-lying nations, citing migration and conflict as consequences. African leaders are pushing for market-based financing mechanisms like carbon credits and debt-for-nature swaps to mobilize much-needed funding.

Despite calls for increased climate financing, Africa has received only about 12% of the required funds, partly due to a perception of risk. The summit aims to rebrand Africa as a climate investment destination rather than solely a victim of climate-related challenges.

Uganda’s climate activist Vanessa Nakate believes that Africa holds vital solutions for the global climate crisis. Nakate and other activists call for solutions led by and for African people to address the climate crisis and challenge the summit’s focus on rich-nation interests.

The inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi aims to secure financing to ensure Africa’s prosperity while combating climate change. Despite contributing only 2-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Africa bears a disproportionate burden of climate change impacts.

The summit brought together leaders from 54 African nations to define a shared vision of green development. President William Ruto emphasized the need for international support to unblock financing and ease debt burdens on African countries. Achieving climate goals requires an eight-fold increase in global energy investment.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres proposed the creation of an African Renewable Energy Alliance and advocated for debt relief, re-capitalization of Multilateral Development Banks, and a yearly SDG Stimulus.

Additionally, he called for reforms in global governance structures to ensure African representation and rectify historical injustices.

The Secretary-General pledged to collaborate with African leaders and organizations to achieve a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable future for the continent.

Additional reporting by Agencies.

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