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African heads of state pose for a photo during the African Climate Summit in Nairobi. They have pledged to work together for the green future opportunities. PHOTO/State House Kenya


By Arnold Ageta

Kenya’s president, William Ruto has termed green economy as the future of mankind as the continent gathers in Nairobi for the inaugural Africa Climate Summit.

The president regretted that Africa is bearing the brunt of effects of climate change yet the continent’s carbon footprint remains small, but the human toll of climate change is disproportionately high.

Welcoming the delegates and other heads of states and diplomats, President Ruto asked them to imagine, design and then build a future of prosperity for Africa and the world.

‘‘You have not just stepped into a conference hall; you have entered the future—a future ripe with potential, driven by global partnerships, committed to African prosperity, inclusive growth, and a livable planet for all,’’ he said.

He added: ‘‘The urgency to address loss and damage, and to configure appropriate financial mechanisms for resilience grows with each extreme weather event and each bout of climate-induced insecurity.’’ Ruto said.

Speaking during the official opening of the summit, Ruto said: ‘‘We are not here just to talk about Africa or climate change in the usual way, which often accentuates our divisions—north versus south, developed versus developing, polluters versus the victims.’’

The President said that Africa’s carbon footprint remains small, but the human toll of climate change is disproportionately high.

For instance, Kenya contributes a mere 0.2 per cent which translates to 1.79 tonnes of green house gs emissions.

Africa accounts for only 2–3 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industrial sources.

According to the World Resources Institute, Africa’s per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in the year 2000 were 0.8 metric tons per person, compared with a global figure of 3.9 tons per person.

President Ruto emphasized the urgency to address loss and damage, and to configure appropriate financial mechanisms for resilience grows with each extreme weather event and each bout of climate-induced insecurity.

‘‘We are not here to catalogue grievances and list problems. We are here to scrutinize ideas, assess perspectives, and unlock solutions,’’ he urged the delegates.

President William Ruto (centre) arrive at the Africa Climate Summit accompanied with his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua and CS Environment and Climate Change, Soipan Tuya. PHOTO/State House Kenya

Ruto called out to everyone work together and converge efforts on African priorities. ‘‘I urge everyone to contribute to our generation’s unprecedented and highly consequential endeavor to catalyze climate action in a spirit of candor, collaboration, and courage,’’ he said.

He concluded saying that Africa is a continent that offers an economic backbone for a decarbonized world. A continent that thrives and shapes a climate-proof future for all.

The Africa Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Economy, Josefe Sacko said that most of disasters are Climate Change induced and they continue to push African economies to the bottom.

She said that the fundamental driver of success for Africa’s green transition will be the availability of resources for investment.

‘‘This must be accompanied by strengthening the capacity of African countries to mobilize their own resources, and built on the foundations of solid and inclusive economic growth,’’ she said.

As the African Continent remains a key player in charting the way towards a low carbon future, and despite being the least contributor, it has been hit hardest by the climate crisis.

‘‘Our solutions lie in large-scale investment in climate resilience, centered on energy access to drive sustainable industrialization. This would be one of the fastest drivers for poverty reduction, while also fundamentally changing the nature of Africa’s economic model, with large-scale investment in sustainable value chains,’’ she advised.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the summit, the cabinet secretary, Soipan Tuya, said the Summit presents an opportunity to Africans to develop and present a new and bold vision for Africa as a continent with tremendous potential, abundant opportunities that can be used to solve the climate crisis.

‘‘I therefore call upon all of us here to use the next three days to explore options as to how we can optimize Africa’s abundant human and natural resources to leapfrog towards a low carbon economy while opening new opportunities for climate finance, trade, investment, innovation, resilience, and green jobs,’’ she urged.

Soipan warned that it is no longer just about tackling an environmental or development problem, but about addressing climate change in the context of justice.

‘‘We must look at how African countries are faced with high debt distress and contextualize it within our ability to adapt and mitigate climate change, looking at the impact of climate change to our economies, which are heavily dependent on climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, tourism, fisheries, energy (hydropower), and forestry among others,’’ said Soipan.

Meanwhile, as the president was addressing the delegates, hundreds of activists staged peaceful march in Nairobi to protest what they termed as exclusion from the climate change talk.

The activists accused the convenors of the summit of denying them accreditation to take part in the talks, adding that the global north has hijacked the summit in bid to influence the outcome of the conference.

The more than 300 activists drawn form Africa waved placards with a clear message ‘’Less talk and more action’’

The activists marched form Nyayo stadium to the Green Park Bus Park where they convened what they called ‘The African People’s Climate Summit.’

President William Ruto arrives at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre driving an electric car. The president is commmitted in the green energy to curb effects of climate. PHOTO/State House, Kenya

They claim the African Climate Summit has been hijacked claiming they were deliberately locked out of the summit.

‘African Climate Summit has closed space to civil society particularly taking an inclusive approach including us in the process of setting the agenda. We are launching a people’s declaration that is for Africa and by Africa that is centers the people’s needs at the center of that agenda,’’ said Dean Bhebhe, a climateWilliam  activist.

With Africa only contributing only 4 per cent of the carbon footprints but bearing the brunt of climate change, they have called on the African delegates to push for operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund to support countries hit hard by climate disasters including cyclones, floods, severe droughts and other disasters.

‘’Year in, year out we see Africa being affected by droughts and cyclones. Africans have been demanding for real climate action,’’ says Loraine Chiponda, Climate activist.

Being the Africa’s inaugural climate summit, the activists have expressed their concern that proliferation of western players in the summit may compromise Africa’s push for climate justice and the summit may not prioritize the needs and aspirations of Africa.

They activists say they lack legitimacy of addressing the real and worsening climate crisis. They have called on President Ruto and other African head of states and governments on climate change for prioritizing western interests over the African agenda.

‘‘How do we rely on the global north entity to try and set an agenda for African people without any context or lived experience? How can we genuinely say that the climate summit has agenda for Africa and by Africa and a reflection of Africa’s needs? That is what we mean when we say that the summit has been fundamentally hijacked,’’ Dean Bhebhe adds.

President however downplayed those concerns saying the conversation of north and south must come to an end.

‘‘Who did what is not a luxury that we have a conversation to engage in because when the apocalypse happens, it will happen for all of us: the entire humanity,’’ President Ruto said.

The summit which is themed, driving green growth finance solutions for Africa and the world, seeks to unlock climate finance and influence, key actions needed tot tackle the climate crisis and its impact. The African continent also seeks to secure commitments from world leaders on carbon border adjustment mechanisms and derive and agenda to be presented at the COP 28 in Dubai in December.

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