The African Climate Summit 2023 ended this week on Wednesday with leaders adopting the Nairobi Declaration that sums up the African countries’ proposals to the international community related to tackling the climate crisis.
According to Kenyan President William Ruto “Africa is not only the cradle of humanity, it is indeed the future,” and the continent holds an enormous potential as a green powerhouse.
Some key highlights in the Nairobi Declaration include the urging of global leaders “to rally behind the proposal for a global carbon taxation regime including a carbon tax on fossil fuel trade, maritime transport and aviation, that may also be augmented by a global financial transaction tax”.
The summit welcomed the imposition of a global carbon tax and some activists even insisted on making polluters really pay for their emissions while also not giving them the opportunity to use “false solutions” like carbon credits that allow them a free ride without taking meaningful action, as said by Joab Bwire Okanda, a senior advisor at the Christian Aid charity.
The declaration also called on world leaders to honor their commitments of $100 billion annually to support African countries in preparing for the worst consequences of climate change, as being particularly vulnerable to weather events. African leaders demand “a new financing architecture that is responsive to Africa’s needs including debt restructuring and relief”, as frustration mounts over the high cost of financing on the continent.
Mr Ruto highlighted that governments, development banks, private investors and philanthropists had committed a combined $23 billion to green projects over the three days, however, this is not seen as meeting the continent’s financial needs.
Sub-Saharan African countries have a public debt stock at the end of 2022 estimated at $1.1 trillion, which according to leaders is crippling the continents’ investments in the energy transition and needs relevant global intervention in favor of African countries.
Some African countries have to pay borrowing costs that are five to eight times higher than wealthy countries, leading to recurrent debt crises. Some of the solutions that were proposed include measures to help those countries avoid default like instruments that can grant 10-year grace periods and extend sovereign debt tenor.
The African Summit 2023 was also criticized for focusing on accelerating clean energy and unfolding Africa’s potential in renewable energy but not leading enough discussions on how to help the population adapt to extreme weather events that are currently raging on the continent.
“Many communities bearing the brunt of increasing floods and droughts, while also at risk of conflict, are disappointed that there wasn’t more emphasis on ensuring that green investments trickle down to them,” said Nazanine Moshiri, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group think-tank.
Overall, the African Climate Summit 2023 is seen as a progression towards placing the continent at the heart of climate change solutions due to its untapped renewable energy potential. However, it also confirmed that the world, including African countries, is still divided between countries fostering the green transition and sustainability and those that hold on to their fossil fuel reserves and want to take the maximum profits out of their fossil fuel investments with the cost of accelerating climate change and threaten life on Earth.