Africa Climate Summit: global leaders place Africa at heart of fight against climate change

Source: 9/6/2023, Location: Africa

Africa must step forward as the cornerstone around which effective climate solutions are Built – Kenya’s President Ruto
Africa cannot be nature rich and cash poor – Dr Adesina

World leaders at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi have pledged their support to position the continent at the centre of the fight against climate change,

African leaders were emphatic in their demand for the developed economies to deliver on their promise to provide $100 billion annually in climate finance, for an overhaul of global financial architecture so it better meets Africa’s needs and for doubling of climate adaptation financing by 2025.

They said, it is time for the continent to unlock its vast renewable energy potential and develop and properly price its own carbon assets to generate new sources of enormous wealth.

The three-day event, hosted by the government of Kenya and the African Union, has brought together heads of government and international organizations, NGOS, civil society as well as hundreds of African youths to discuss ways to deliver innovative green growth and climate finance solutions.

Kenya’s President William Ruto, said “Africa’s youthfulness is precisely the attribute that has inspired African leaders to imagine a future where Africa steps on to the stage as an economic and industrial power, an effective and positive actor in the global arena.”

President Ruto listed several reasons that the continent is well placed to lead in tackling climate change. “Africa is the continent with 60% of the continent’s renewable energy assets,” he said, including solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower.

Africa is projected to have 40% of the world’s workforce by 2100, he said. “We have two-thirds of the world’s uncultivated arable land that can transform smart agriculture into the production store of the world.” Ruto added, “We have the largest carbon sequestration infrastructure in the world.”

Joining President Ruto were UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union Commission chairperson, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, as well as several African leaders.

Chairperson Mahamat urged participants to not overlook Africa’s indebtedness. “Everyone knows that the public debt stock of sub-Saharan African countries at the end of 2022 was estimated at $1.1 trillion,” he said. Out of $650 billion SDRS mobilized, Africa received only $33 billion, or 4.5%. “In view of these staggering figures, it is clear there is no relevant global intervention in favor of Africa without a credible solution for the crippling debt challenge.”

Guterres said Africans bore the brunt of the worst effects of climate change despite having produced negligible carbon emissions. He stressed that "developed countries must present a clear and credible roadmap to double adaptation finance by 2025 as a first step toward devoting half of all climate finance to adaptation.”

The UN chief urged participants to think big. “First, we need far greater climate ambition, with countries hitting fast forward and massively accelerating action to limit temperature rises and impacts.” He added that, “The largest emitters must lead the charge, in line with the Climate Solidarity Pact(link is external) and Climate Action Acceleration Agenda(link is external).”

The African Development Bank’s Adesina commended Ruto for his leadership in organizing the summit. “The Africa Climate Summit will shape the future pathway of Africa’s development,” he said.

Adesina said responses to the climate emergency were needed at several levels. At the global level, he called on wealthy nations to meet their commitments to provide $100 billion annually in climate finance.

The global climate financial architecture must be changed to prioritize the needs of Africa, the bank chief said, “At the national level we must accelerate actions on climate adaptation,” he added.

Adesina said the bank, with the Global Centre on Adaptation, had launched the African Adaptation Acceleration Programme (AAAP), the largest such initiative in the world. “That is why the African Development Bank has committed to providing $25 billion towards climate financing by 2025.”

The African Development Bank is implementing a $20 billion initiative, Desert to Power, to harness the power of solar and deliver electricity to 250 million people, Adesina said. “We must power every home every school and every hospital.”

Adesina told the Summit Africa must revalue its wealth by accounting for the proper valuation of its abundant natural resources, including its vast forests that sequester carbon.

“Africa must develop its own carbon markets, properly price its carbon, and turn its vast carbon sink into new sources of enormous wealth. Africa cannot be nature rich and cash poor,” the bank chief said.

Global leaders used the Climate Summit to unveil new commitments to finance green growth and sustainable development.

The President of COP28, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, announced that “the Abu Dhabi fund for development, Etihad credit insurance, Masdar, the Abu Dhabi future company, and AMEA Power will join with Africa50 as a strategic partner under the guidance of the UAE and African leadership to develop 15 Gigawatts of clean power by 2030.” He added that, “by working together we will deploy $4.5 billion that will catalyze at least an additional $12.5 billion from multilateral public and private sources.”

United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, announced the Biden administration was pledging “3$ billion dollars annually for Adaptation for the $12 billion program” as part of the PREPARE(link is external) initiative. Kerry also announced an additional $30 million, go to bolster climate resilient food security efforts across Africa.

“It is time to move from words to action,” Ursula Von Der Leyen said, offering Europe as an ally in efforts to close Africa’s climate investment gaps. “We want to partner with you to create local value chains, to create good jobs here in Africa. We want to invest in skills for local workers, this is crucial for the young people because the stronger you are as suppliers, the more Europe will diversify its supply chains toward Africa, and the more we both will de-risk our economies. It’s a clear win-win.”

African leaders also spoke. President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia said her government was working to achieve net zero emissions in building climate resilient development by 2050.

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan called for a special fund to be set up that would stipulate what percentage of financing pledged by advanced countries would be set aside for Africa, as opposed to “blanket pledges.”

The prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, addressed the plenary via video feed. She linked the Africa Summit to the Bridgetown Initiative, an action plan to reform the global financial system so the world can better respond to current and future crises. “This is a time when political will matched by the recognition of our reality will make all the difference in the world,” she said

The summit will produce a joint declaration, the Nairobi Declaration, that will set out the continent’s position on climate finance and green growth. The declaration is also expected to call for the establishment of a global carbon tax system as a path to expand climate finance and incentivise countries to cut emissions.

The Climate Summit will also consolidate the achievements and roadmap from COP27(link is external), held in Egypt last year, as well as closing gaps that have arisen from the Sharm El Sheikh Implementation Plan(link is external).

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