World leaders on the second day of the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in the Kenyan capital Nairobi have pledged their support to position the continent at the epicentre of the fight against climate change, urging greater consideration for Africa’s needs.
The historic three-day event, hosted by the government of Kenya and the African Union, which kicked off on Monday, has mobilised heads of state and government, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, civil society as well as hundreds of African youths to discuss ways to deliver innovative green growth and climate finance solutions. Much of the conversation have focused on climate adaptation, which is widely viewed as the biggest pressing priority for Africa.
Kenya’s President William Ruto said Africa’s youthfulness was “precisely the attribute that inspired African leaders to imagine a future where Africa steps onto the stage as an economic and industrial power, an effective and positive actor in the global arena”.
Ruto listed several reasons why the continent is well placed to lead in tackling climate change. “Africa is the continent with 60% of the world’s renewable energy assets, including solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower. Africa is projected to have 40% of the world’s workforce by 2100. We have two-thirds of the world’s uncultivated arable land that can transform smart agriculture into the production store of the world. We have the largest carbon sequestration infrastructure in the world,” Ruto said.
Joining President Ruto were UN Secretary-General António Guterres, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, United States Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry, African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina, and several African leaders. Faki urged for reform of the global financial architecture to meet Africa’s needs of at least $1.3 billion a year to meet the sustainable development goals by 2030.
Guterres stressed Africans bore the brunt of the worst 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”.
Guterres 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. The largest emitters must lead the charge, in line with the Climate Solidarity Pact (https://apo-opa.info/3LeOoqh) and Climate Action Acceleration Agenda the UN chief said.
Adesina commended Ruto for his leadership in organising 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. Also, “the global climate financial architecture must be changed to prioritise the needs of Africa,” he said. “At the national level we must accelerate actions on climate adaptation. That is why the African Development Bank has committed to providing $25 billion toward climate financing by 2025,” he said.
Adesina said the African Development Bank together with the Global Centre on Adaptation had launched the African Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP), the largest such initiative in the world. The Bank is implementing a $20 billion initiative, Desert to Power, to harness the power of solar and deliver electricity to 250 million people, he said. “We must power every home every school and every hospital.”
Offering Europe as an ally in efforts to close Africa’s climate investment gaps, Von Der Leyen said it was “time to move from words to action.” “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.”
President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia said her government was working to achieve net zero emissions in building climate resilient development by 2050. “Ethiopia is also investing in green energy projects, such as hydroelectric wind solar and the geothermal sectors, as well as promoting modern rural cooking technologies.”
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.”
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley addressed the plenary via video feed. She linked the Africa Summit to the Bridgetown initiative to reform the global financial system so the world can better respond to current and future crises. “We must work together from the African continent to the Caribbean. 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 Africa Climate Summit is expected to produce the joint 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.
Already, the Africa Climate Summit has resulted in major financial pledges. COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber committed $4.5 billion on behalf of the United Arab Emirates to assist African countries in expediting clean-energy initiatives. Al Jaber said he expected the $4.5 billion to catalyse “at least an additional $12.5 billion from multilateral public and private sources.” “It is our ambition that this will… jumpstart a pipeline of bankable clean energy projects in this important continent,” Al Jaber said.
Special Envoy Kerry announced the Biden administration would contribute $3 billion annually for adaptation as part of the PREPARE initiative. He also announced an additional $30 million to bolster climate resilient food security efforts across Africa.
The first $20 million would be for the African Adaptation initiative for its Food Security Accelerator. “$10 million will go to the Climate Resilience Adaptation Finance and Technology Transfer Facility to scale technology so we can advance adaptation efforts like cold chain storage to help maintain the quality and safety of food from the farms all the way to the homes of people,” Kerry said.