During the Africa Climate Summit (ACS), the UN called on wealthy countries to fulfill their promises in the fight against the climate crisis and to increase funding aimed at mitigating and adapting to climate change in developing countries.
António Guterres, UN Secretary General, pointed out that the climate crisis disproportionately affects the African continent in comparison to the rest of the world. "This continent emits only 4% of global emissions, yet it suffers some of the worst effects of rising global temperatures: extreme heat, relentless floods and tens of thousands of deaths from devastating droughts," Guterres stated during his opening speech on the second day of the summit.
The head of the UN said that to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis, the world needs a qualitative leap in current initiatives and greater ambition from developed countries who must reduce their net emissions as close to zero as possible by 2040. Guterres urged these nations to fulfill their promise of providing US$100 billion annually to developing countries, a goal that was established in the Paris Agreement in 2015. "This will enable African nations to ensure access to affordable and green electrical systems and establish early warning systems for extreme weather events," he noted.
Likewise, Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary, UN Climate Change, recalled the establishment of the loss and damage fund created at the COP27 climate summit in November 2022, which has not yet been materialized. “Climate action, like all other things in life, requires money. Finance should be tackled in the context of both mitigation and adaptation, among other considerations,” commented Stiell during the summit’s inauguration.
Guterres emphasized Africa's potential to become a global leader in renewable energy. "Africa holds 30% of the critical mineral reserves essential for renewable and low-carbon technologies such as solar energy, electric vehicles and batteries," he said. Kenyan President William Ruto stressed that Africa’s abundance of wind and solar energy can power the continent’s development, creating jobs, protecting local economies and accelerating the sustainable industrialization of the continent. However, to lead the way toward a sustainable and prosperous future, finance and technology must be provided to developing countries, stated Ruto.
On the other hand, John Kerry, US Presidential Envoy for Climate, emphasized the need to reduce the risk for investors in the fight against climate change. "We need money. However, financing must be provided on favorable terms so that poor countries can develop their renewable energy sectors,” stated Kerry.
Kerry highlighted the need to expand voluntary carbon markets, which allow the purchase of credits to offset GHG emissions and are often acquired by large corporations. He acknowledged that, in the past, there have been abuses in this sector, when environmental guidelines had not been clear to determine how these markets should operate. However, he insisted that when managed properly, bonds represent an important tool in the fight against climate change.
This issue has sparked controversy around the summit, especially after more than 400 organizations published a letter in August condemning carbon markets as a false solution that encourages wealthy nations and large corporations to continue polluting the world.
At the end of the meeting, authorities will establish the adoption of the "Nairobi Declaration," which aims to articulate a common African position for various global forums, such as the COP28 climate summit in Dubai scheduled for the end of the year, the UN General Assembly, the G20, as well as international financial institutions.
From Sept. 4 to 6, the ACS will welcome more than twenty African heads of state and government, as well as leaders from international organizations and other regions of the world, in parallel to the Africa Climate Week 2023 (ACW) to be held between Sept. 4 and 8, both hosted by the Kenyan government.