African leaders to push for finance at climate summit
September 5, 2023 11:44 AM
African leaders and global policymakers gather on Tuesday in Kenya for a climate summit aimed at showcasing the continent as a destination for investment in efforts to combat global warming.
Heads of state, and government and industry leaders, are among thousands of attendees at the summit where Africa is promoting its potential as a clean energy powerhouse and asset in addressing the climate emergency.
The Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi comes ahead of the COP28 summit later this year in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, which is expected to feature competing agendas for the world's energy future.
The three-day event in Nairobi, which began Monday, is billed as bringing together African leaders to define a shared vision for green development on the diverse continent of 1.4 billion.
Kenyan President William Ruto is hosting counterparts from countries including Mozambique, Tanzania and Ghana, and United Nations head Antonio Guterres, US climate envoy John Kerry, and COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber are in attendance.
On Tuesday, the summit will offer proposals to reform global financial structures that have resulted in only a tiny fraction of investments in climate solutions being directed toward Africa.
Countries in Africa are hamstrung by mounting debt costs and a dearth of finance, and despite an abundance of natural resources just three percent of energy investments worldwide are made in the continent.
- Competing visions -
On the opening day of the summit on Monday, Ruto said trillions of dollars in "green investment opportunities" would be needed as the climate crisis accelerates.
"Africa holds the key to accelerating decarbonization of the global economy. We are not just a continent rich in resources. We are a powerhouse of untapped potential, eager to engage and fairly compete in the global markets," Ruto said on Monday.
A clean energy transition across the world's developing nations will be crucial in order to keep alive the Paris Agreement goal of capping global warming "well below" two degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times, and 1.5C if possible.
To make that happen, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says investment will need to surge to $2 trillion a year within a decade -- an eight-fold increase.
International investment must be "massively scaled up to enable commitments to be turned into actions across the continent", said Ruto, Al Jaber, and African Union Commission head Moussa Faki Mahamat in a joint statement on Monday.
The summit's focus on climate finance has drawn opposition from some environmental quarters, with hundreds of demonstrators protesting near the conference venue in Nairobi on its opening day.
A coalition of civil society groups has been urging Ruto to steer global climate priorities away from what it perceives as a Western-led agenda that champions carbon markets and other financial tools to redress the climate crisis.