deceptive agenda

At Africa Climate Summit in Kenya, activists demand less talk

By Victor Abuso

Posted on September 5, 2023 14:10

Members of the civil society hold placards during a peaceful protest against the continent’s inaugural climate summit, in Nairobi, Kenya. (Reuters/John Muchucha)
Members of the civil society hold placards during a peaceful protest against the continent’s inaugural climate summit, in Nairobi, Kenya. (Reuters/John Muchucha)

Environmental activists outside the Africa Climate Summit are calling for less talk and more action to deal with climate change challenges facing the continent.

On Monday, hundreds of activists from across Africa held a protest near the venue of the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, voicing their opposition to the conference. The campaigners say they believe the agenda of the summit has been compromised and it is now focusing on interests of rich nations.

Marching with placards that read less talk more action, the activists said the summit lacks legitimacy and is unlikely to come up with real solutions to solve problems facing climate change in Africa.

Solutions will not be found in conferences. We want solutions read a placard from Eveline Okoth, one of the participants in the protest. Another placard said Climate Justice now.

Western agenda more important

Samwel Mandela, a Maasai pastoralist community activist, tells The Africa Report that policies proposed at the summit will continue to exploit African countries.

“Proposals have already been made by a few rich countries. We are on our own. We want fundamental changes to address climate change,” he says.

Mildred Nduta, an activist from the Kenya Peasants League, wants the rich countries responsible for climate change to fulfill their financial pledge to poorer countries.

“We are not begging, we are demanding the rich countries to adequately finance the mitigation measures,” she says.

In a letter to President William Ruto in August, more than 400 African civil society organisations complained that the Western-led agenda — which includes carbon markets — had been given high priority at the summit, while challenges like floods and drought were sidelined.

As the inaugural Africa Climate Summit enters its second day, the activists are also convening in Nairobi for their alternative summit, the Africa People’s Climate Assembly.

According to a 2022 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), rich nations  have failed to meet a long-standing pledge to deliver  up to $100bn per year by 2020 to help poorer countries cope with increasingly severe climate-linked impacts and disasters like floods and famine.

Hypocritical Ruto

In his opening remarks, Kenyan President William Ruto, who has been vocal calling for rich countries to walk the talk on climate change, said Africa should be part of the solution to global warming, rather than a victim.

“For a very long time we have looked at this as a problem. There are immense opportunities as well,” he said.

Ruto also pointed out that Africa has an opportunity to benefit from action to tackle global warming, but needs financial support to unleash its potential.

We are a powerhouse of untapped potential,” he said.

As he hosts this summit, Ruto who has been accused by environmentalists for double speak on climate change. In July, he reversed a six-year ban on logging in forests, a measure condemned by environmentalists.

According to the organisers of the summit, more than 18,000 delegates from across the world are gathered, including African leaders, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a delegation from the European Union, and US climate envoy John Kerry.

Key issues under discussion include implementation of financial solutions to climate change challenges in Africa and the world, as well as presentation of a united agenda for Africa at the upcoming COP28 summit in the United Arab Emirates in November 2023.

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