Nairobi climate declaration is a sham – activists

Friday, September 8th, 2023 00:30 | By
Pupils under the Umbrella of Climate Advocates Voices (Unidas) learn on how to maintain trees during the Climate Africa Summit. PHOTO/Kenna Claude

Over 500 civil society organisations have rejected the African Leaders’ Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change which heads of State and government adopted on Wednesday.

Speaking while launching the People’s Declaration to counter the official declaration of the summit, the organisations said that the meeting failed to deliver on African solutions for a clean energy future.

They argued that though the overarching sentiments during the summit were about how the continent has become a hub for clean energy and a leader in low-carbon economy-based development, the main concern is about the agenda on false solutions such as carbon markets, carbon credits and the use of technology as a viable alternative to phasing out harmful fossil fuels.

Extraction hub

These concepts, according to them, are informed by the interests of the Global North and are being marketed as African priorities when in reality they will embolden wealthy nations and large corporations to continue polluting Africa.

“The Declaration insists that Africa has a chance to be part of the solution with its renewable energy potential. African civil society has known this and has been demanding a 100 per cent renewable future for Africa. At the same time, we see that Africa has been and is currently still being used as an extraction hub for gas and other fossils to close energy gaps in the Global North,” said Thuli Makama, Africa Senior Advisor, Oil Change International.

According to him, the declaration also mentions biodiversity hotspots, but these areas are not being spared in the quest for more oil and gas by the fossil fuel industry.

He said deltas in Namibia and Senegal are set to become regions of environmental degradation and human rights violations just like the Niger Delta after it was pummeled by oil extraction.

The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) is cutting through transboundary protected sites, he added.

False solutions

“The Declaration of the African Climate Summit barely escaped living up to its billing as a carbon stock exchange jamboree. It is loaded with platitudes pandering to worn ideas of the carbon market, green growth and the so-called land degradation neutrality and other false solutions.

“The declaration is an open route for green colonialism that could render the continent a vast carbon sink and experimental grounds for polluting nations and corporations. It makes no mention of the need for the payment of climate debt, a key source of climate finance,” said Nnimmo Bassey, Founder, and Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF).

According to Bassey, civil society organisations were particularly shocked that despite the declaration acknowledging that 60 per cent of the population are small-scale farmers, very little is said about supporting them and nothing is said of enhancing the practice of agroecology, which is a real climate solution. “The Declaration is a disappointment and portends a doleful outcome from COP28,” adds Bassey.

According to Muhammed Lamin Saidykh, Head of Building Power, CAN-International, it is crucial for Africa to prioritize building renewable energy systems, electrification, infrastructure and technologies. However, he said, some climate solutions made were driven by Western interests rather than truly benefiting Africa.

Concrete actions

“We need to reshape our agenda and involve African experts who understand our unique challenges. I’m particularly concerned about the promotion of what I see as false solutions, like carbon credits and geo-engineering.

“These approaches may serve the interests of wealthy nations and corporations, allowing them to continue polluting while claiming to be part of the solution. We should prioritise Africa’s interests and transition away from fossil fuels in a just and equitable manner,” said Saidykh.

According to Maimoni Mariere Ubrei-Joe, Coordinator, Climate Justice and Energy Program, Friends of the Earth Africa, existing policies in Africa can be effective if they are backed by concrete actions.

“However, we cannot keep using the same old extractivist model and expect a different result,” he said.
According to Ubrei-Joe, what Africa’s should be focusing on now is to stop the contributors to climate change at source and not look for shortcuts to keep extracting using the smokescreen of the carbon market, geo-engineering, and other false solutions.

“Africa should champion a people-led and centered just transition to 100 per cent renewable energy with utmost care for the environment. African energy systems should be developed to meet the needs of the continent rather than thinking only of energy for export,” he said.

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