By Joyce Chimbi
To cool down a burning planet, Africa’s Head of State and Government at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit unveiled the ‘Nairobi Declaration’ as curtains fell on the inaugural Africa Climate Summit held in Nairobi, September 4-6, 2023, under the theme “Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World.”
The joint declaration is a unified approach and political leadership on an African vision that simultaneously pursues climate change and development agenda. As climate change pushes an already fragile continent between a rock and a hard place, Africa’s leaders say immediate action is needed.
Included in the declaration is an acknowledgement of the 6th Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2023, stating that the world is not on track to keeping within the 1.5°C limit agreed in Paris and that global emissions must be cut by 45 per cent in this decade.
“The report is particularly important because it highlights the interdependence of climate, ecosystems and biodiversity, and human societies – the value of diverse forms of knowledge, and the close linkages between climate adaptation, mitigation, ecosystem health, human well-being, and sustainable development,” James Njuguna from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources tells IPS.
As such, the Nairobi declaration underscores the IPCC confirmation that “Africa is warming faster than the rest of the world and, if unabated, climate change will continue to have adverse impacts on African economies and societies, and hamper growth and wellbeing.”
Against this backdrop, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, while speaking at the Nairobi climate summit, stressed that “an injustice burns at the heart of the climate crisis, and its flame is scorching hopes and possibilities here in Africa. This continent accounts for less than 4 per cent of global emissions. Yet it suffers some of the worst effects of rising global temperatures: extreme heat, ferocious floods, and tens of thousands dead from devastating droughts.”
To push the continent’s climate agenda forward, the declaration identifies several collective actions needed to halt the speed of the ongoing climate crisis and to build climate resilience. African leaders urged the global community to act with speed in reducing emissions and honouring the commitment to provide USD100 billion in annual climate finance, as promised 14 years ago at the Copenhagen conference.
Other actions include accelerating all efforts to reduce emissions to align with goals set forth in the Paris Agreement, upholding commitments to a fair and accelerated process of phasing down coal, and abolishment all fossil fuel subsidies. And swiftly operationalise the Loss and Damage facility agreed at COP27 and accelerate implementation of the African Union Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022-2032).
Reducing dependency on fossil fuels and increasing reliance on renewable energy is an important tool in the fight against climate change. Fossil fuels emit the highest carbon footprint of all fuel types and are considered dirty energy, followed by coal. Africa’s abundance of wind and solar energy can simultaneously meet development and climate change adaptation and mitigation goals.
Mitigation costs for a clean energy transition in Africa are about USD 190 billion per year until 2030. In 2009, during the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15), developed countries committed to a collective goal of mobilizing USD 100 billion per year by 2020 for climate action. As the global community heads to COP28, the pledge is still very much a broken promise.
Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, and South Sudan incurred an estimated USD 7.4 billion of livestock losses due to climate change and yet rich nations paid less than 5 per cent of the USD53.3 billion East Africa needs to confront the climate crisis.
To meet the cost of climate adaptation and mitigation efforts, Africa’s head of state and government are seeking: “New debt relief interventions and instruments to pre-empt debt default – with the ability to extend sovereign debt tenor and include a 10-year grace period. New universal global instruments to collect additional revenue.
“Decisive action on the promotion of inclusive and effective international tax cooperation at the United Nations with the aim to reduce Africa’s loss of USD 27 billion annual corporate tax revenue through profit shifting by at least 50 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050.”
Towards pushing the continent’s climate agenda forward, the Nairobi declaration proposes to establish a new financing architecture that is responsive to Africa’s needs, including debt restructuring and relief, including the development of a new Global Climate Finance Charter through the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and COP processes by 2025.
African leaders have yet another critical platform to push the climate agenda forward at the Climate Ambition Summit to be held on September 20, 2023, during the high-level week of the UNGA – as an opportunity for ‘First Movers and Doers’.
‘First Movers and Doers’ is in reference to people and institutions from Government, business, finance, local authorities, and civil society who are already engaged in climate action and can offer pointers into how climate action can be accelerated. Further, the Nairobi declaration will form the basis of negotiations at the COP28 summit as Africa’s common position in global climate change processes.
Actioning the declaration is particularly urgent for the injustice of climate change is such that climate-induced disasters have cornered an already fragile continent, and a most vulnerable African population is in the eye of a deadly storm.
Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar were in February and March this year in the crosshairs of the most severe storms in the last 20 years. Deadly floods affected countries such as Chad, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya are experiencing the most severe drought in the last 40 years due to five consecutive rainy seasons. Children in 48 out of 49 African countries assessed by UNICEF are at high or extremely high risk of the impacts of climate change. Children in the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Guinea, Somalia, and Guinea Bissau are the most at risk.
To cushion vulnerable communities against the vagaries of climate change, the declaration seeks to hold rich nations accountable for their contribution to the climate status quo and to therefore reach new global carbon taxes, restructure global climate financial infrastructure and decarbonise the global economy in favour of a green economy.
IPS UN Bureau Report