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Africa’s first climate summit begins, focus on continental unity

Africa's first climate summit begins, focus on continental unity

According to the UN, African countries are only responsible for about 3% of global carbon emissions.


Africa’s first climate summit began on Monday in the Kenyan capital. Delegates wanted to agree a common position and discuss how to fund the continent’s environmental priorities ahead of upcoming global conferences.

Organizers expect the three-day summit to announce hundreds of millions of dollars worth of deals, in which they aim to present Africa as a destination for climate investment rather than a victim of floods, drought and famine.

On Monday, environment ministers, business leaders and climate activists will discuss how to scale up climate finance and carbon markets, investing in rising temperature adaptation and transforming food systems.

From Tuesday, more than 20 presidents and heads of government are expected to attend the summit. They plan to issue a statement setting out Africa’s position ahead of next month’s UN climate conference in New York in September and the UN COP28 summit in the United Arab Emirates in late November.

In her opening speech, Kenya’s Environment Minister Soipan Tuya emphasized the urgency of the moment.

“The climate change debate has entered a new era. It’s no longer just about tackling an environmental or development issue, it’s about tackling climate change in the context of justice,” Tuya said.

“If we don’t develop adequate response measures to deal with the climate crisis, it will destroy us.”

African leaders are pushing for market-based financing tools like carbon credits to mobilize finance they say is slow to come from rich-country donors.

Carbon credits allow polluters to offset emissions by funding activities such as tree planting and renewable energy.

One of the largest lenders in the DRC, Rawbank, and global energy trader Vitol on Monday announced a $20 million investment in renewable energy, clean cooking and forest conservation in Congo.

However, many African activists have opposed the summit’s approach to climate finance, saying it promotes Western priorities at the expense of the continent.

They say carbon credits and other financing tools are an excuse for wealthier countries and companies to continue polluting, and that African countries should hold on to donors’ financial commitments they previously made to poorer countries but have so far only partially fulfilled.

“Africa needs funding from countries that have grown rich through our suffering. They have a climate debt,” said Mohamed Adow, the energy director at think tank Power Shift Africa.

African countries contribute only about 3% of global CO2 emissions, according to the UN, but are increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events linked to climate change, including the Horn of Africa’s worst drought in decades.

(Except for the headline, this article was not edited by NDTV staff and is published via a syndicated feed.)

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