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African leaders back call for global carbon tax on fossil fuels, shipping and flights

Kenya's President William Ruto speaks at the Africa Climate Summit.
Kenya's President William Ruto speaks at the Africa Climate Summit. Copyright AP Photo/Brian Inganga
Copyright AP Photo/Brian Inganga
By Euronews Green with AP
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The declaration says no country should ever have to choose between development aspirations and climate action.

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The first African Climate Summit ended with a call for world leaders to rally behind a global carbon tax on fossil fuels, aviation and maritime transport.  

A document released on Wednesday (6 September) urged world leaders to "rally behind the proposal for a global carbon taxation regime". 

The Nairobi Declaration is backed by the leaders of the continent of 1.3 billion people — a population set to double by 2050 — and calls on the world's biggest emitters of planet-warming greenhouse gases and its richest countries to keep their promises.

It notes especially the unfulfilled pledge of $100 billion (€93 billion) annually to developing nations in climate finance, made 14 years ago. 

Africa currently only receives 12 per cent of the $300 billion (€280 billion) it needs a year to cope with the effects of climate change. 

"No country should ever have to choose between development aspirations and climate action," the declaration says.

African heads of state have said that they will use the document as the basis of their negotiations at COP28 in Dubai in November. 

Less of a climate victim, more of the solution

Adopted unanimously, the statement also calls for Africa's vast mineral wealth to be processed on the continent, noting that "decarbonizing the global economy is also an opportunity to contribute to equality and shared prosperity."

Kenyan President William Ruto, a host of the summit, said $23 billion (€21 billion) in commitments had been made at the event.

The summit has sought to reframe the African continent, which has enormous amounts of clean energy minerals and renewable energy sources, as less of a victim of climate change driven by the world's biggest economies and more of the solution.

AP Photo/Brian Inganga
Delegates walk outside the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya.AP Photo/Brian Inganga

But investment in the continent in exchange for the ability to keep polluting elsewhere has angered some in Africa who prefer to see China, the United States, India, the European Union and others rein in their emissions of greenhouse gases.

Those carbon markets are "bogus solutions," a Nigerian environmental advocate told the summit, providing a sharp reminder that not Africans support richer countries using the continent's green spaces to offset continued polluting at home.

"We reject forced solutions on our land," Priscilla Achakpa, founder of the Women Environmental Programme, told summit participants on the event's final day. 

She urged the so-called "Global North" to "remove yourself from the perspective of the colonial past."

Are carbon credits the answer?

Carbon markets are used by polluters to effectively offset emissions by investing in tree-planting or conservation initiatives. They are cheaper to purchase in Africa than in many other parts of the world where schemes are more strictly regulated. 

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African nations are seeking a better price to help achieve their own emission-reduction targets.

In Africa's market, the continent earns less than €10 per ton of carbon. Other regions can receive over €100 for the same amount. 

In carbon trading, one credit issued equals 1 tonne of carbon dioxide or another greenhouse gas equivalent removed from the atmosphere.

The voluntary carbon market, which remains dominant in Africa, has been plagued by integrity and transparency concerns. Environmental groups are concerned it is a free pass to keep polluting.

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African heads of state are preparing for COP28

The summit is part of Africa's preparation for the next United Nations climate change conference, scheduled to take place in Dubai in December.

The summit has largely featured leaders in government, business and civil society, many of them veterans of other climate gatherings.

"Heading from event to event doesn't leave us with a lot of constructive thinking time" to bridge the gaps that still divide communities on the best ways to reduce emissions, Simon Stiell, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said.

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