Carbon Markets Aren’t the Answer to Africa’s Climate Finance Problem

Carbon Markets Aren’t the Answer to Africa’s Climate Finance Problem
Kenyan President William Ruto addresses delegates during the official opening of the Africa Climate Summit, Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 4, 2023 (AP photo by Khalil Senosi).

The Africa Climate Summit, which wrapped up in Kenya last Wednesday, was an effort to forge a harmonized approach to the continent’s negotiating stance on climate diplomacy ahead of the United Nations COP28 Climate Change Conference in November. Hosted by Kenyan President William Ruto, who is also the current rotating leader of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, the summit succeeded in producing the Nairobi Declaration, now viewed as Africa’s defining response to the climate crisis. 

The manifesto, titled “Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World,” delineated Africa’s critical priorities in addressing the crisis, to which it contributes the least of all the world’s regions, but from which it suffers the most. These included calls for urgent global climate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, new global taxes on carbon emissions and ramped-up investment in clean energy to leverage the continent’s vast natural assets in critical minerals for the green transition. 

Addressing Africa’s urgent need for predictable climate financing, the summit urged wealthy nations to pay their “climate debts.” At the same time, it called for an overhaul of multilateral financial systems to restructure the debts of insolvent nations that, staggering under the burden of repayment, are unable to redirect scarce resources toward addressing climate shocks.

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