Unlocking renewable energy
The Africa Climate Summit recently convened in Kenya, with sponsorship from the African Development Bank. The summit played a pivotal role as a platform for tackling urgent climate-related concerns in Africa. The main emphasis of the Summit is distributed across four major systems-based tracks, aiming to offer region-specific inputs to support the global stocktake:
- Energy systems and industry
- Cities, urban and rural settlements, infrastructure, and transport
- Land, ocean, food, and water
- Societies, health, livelihoods, and economies
Mr. William Ruto, the President of Kenya, has emphasized that renewable energy sources play a paramount role in fostering both social and economic prosperity. They support sustainable development, stimulate economic expansion, create job opportunities, and uplift millions from the challenges of energy poverty. Kenya has committed to harnessing the potential of renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower, with the aim of advancing sustainable development, driving economic growth, and alleviating energy poverty.
Kenya aspires to position itself as a green industrial hub, since the country has sufficient potential in terms of solar and wind, aiding not only Africa but also the global community in achieving net-zero emissions strategies by 2050. This involves unlocking renewable energy sources in Kenya, which offer year-round energy production, promoting a green industrial revolution. The goal is to achieve reliance on renewable energy sources by 2030 and establish a 100-gigawatt grid entirely powered by clean energy by 2040.
While Africa’s carbon footprint remains relatively small, the human toll of climate change is alarmingly high. The summit underscored the vital importance of adaptation measures, especially in the face of a one-third reduction in fertile land and 34 percent reduction in productivity, due to climate change over the past decades. As a recurring theme for the continent, adaptation is indispensable for ensuring food security in Africa. Although short-term dimensions might be considered for food security, it is imperative for a comprehensive change of agricultural systems. The African Development Bank, The Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP) of ADB, and the Global Center on Adaptation have devised a plan to allocate 25 billion USD to booster adaptation finance within the region, primarily channeling in climate-smart agriculture, resilient infrastructure, innovative finance, and job creation.
Exploring financial solutions to support climate change adaptation efforts
As adaptive capacity is enhanced, the adverse effect of loss and damage is simultaneously reduced. Another significant aspect discussed during the summit involves the mobilization of adaptation financing from both the private and public sectors. This funding must reach approximately 500 million small-scale producers worldwide, who contribute to 35 percent of global food production but have not sufficiently benefited from inclusive initiatives. Additionally, it’s crucial to recognize that de-risking private sector engagement in viable adaptation projects is essential, irrespective of whether addressing the Global South or North. Catalyzing robust policies and regulations with de-risked entrepreneurs, large-scale investments, taxation structures, the creativity of local businesses, and innovative trade mechanisms will transform Africa’s resource wealth into real opportunities for future generations. 2DII’s policy paper titled ‘Original Sins‘ provides a unique opportunity to bridge various agendas. It does so by showcasing adaptation-linked debt relief programs (ALDRPs), which encompass debt-for-adaptation (DFA) swaps and adaptation-linked restructurings (ALRs). These innovative financial mechanisms are designed to address the growing debt crises faced by many developing countries as of 2023. Adaptation-linked debt relief programs like DFA swaps and ALRs are specifically aimed at financing activities that enhance the resilience of communities, regions, or entire nations. They equip these entities to better confront the impacts of climate change, including challenges such as rising sea levels, extreme weather events, droughts, and other environmental threats. ALDRP tools enable the connection of debt relief for debtor developing countries with crucial adaptation investments. This simultaneous approach addresses both their climate-related vulnerabilities and financial challenges.
Youth and local communities onboard in the discussion
Youth involvement was also a prominent theme throughout the summit. In COP28, one will witness a notable presence of young climate advocates comprising 60 percent of the negotiators, while an impressive 36 percent of the presidency team will also be drawn from the youth. Besides, the COP28 Presidency has introduced the Youth Climate Delegate Program demonstrating a firm commitment to engage the younger generation in climate action.
During a side event that took place as part of Africa Climate Week in Kenya, the FSC Indigenous Foundation (FSC-IF) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) co-hosted an event bringing together Indigenous leaders and important stakeholders to emphasize the importance of incorporating Indigenous knowledge into climate adaptation strategies in Africa. In addition, the Summit committed to recognizing and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, including their lands and traditional knowledge, through policy frameworks and programs that consider the unique needs of indigenous communities. On the very last day of the Summit, the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus read the Indigenous People’s Declaration and underscored recognition and strengthening traditional knowledge, and inclusive approach in tackling the climate adaptation impediments.
Strategic Blueprint for Africa: The Nairobi Declaration
The Summit concluded with the adoption of the Nairobi Declaration, serving as a strategic blueprint to guide the continent’s future policies, and negotiations. The Nairobi Declaration encompasses several key calls and proposals. First and foremost, countries are committed to developing and implementing policies on local, regional, and global investment in green growth and inclusive economies. One of the primary targets of the Declaration is green industrialization policies, including the development of just energy transitions and renewable energy generation. Renewable energy deployment, including climate-smart agriculture, catalyzes the promotion of sustainable development, drives economic growth, uplifts employment opportunities, and helps alleviate the energy poverty faced by millions. Given this, the Declaration seeks an increase in Africa’s renewable generation capacity from 56 GW in 2022 to at least 300 GW by 2030. In addition, Africa urges the international parties to collaborate in addressing energy poverty and to provide a global supply of affordable clean energy for African industries. Besides, accelerating efforts to decarbonize the transport, industrial, and electricity sectors using smart, digital, and highly efficient technologies and systems are at stake in Africa’s next development plans.
Africa presented a unified stance regarding the cooperative efforts and necessary reforms required in the roles of multilateral development banks. These institutions are tasked with enhancing capitalization, which includes making concessional capital more accessible and directing it toward frontier economies, deploying essential funding “fit-to-purpose”, and addressing the urgency, scale, and inclusiveness necessary for both development and climate-related initiatives. Furthermore, as per the Declaration, African countries urge efforts to refine the G20 Common Framework for Debt Treatments and global financial architecture. This includes the Bridgetown Initiative, the Accra-Marrakech Agenda, the UN Secretary General’s SDG Stimulus Proposal, and the Paris Agenda for People and the Planet, all of which must be facilitated. On top of that, accelerating the mobilized finance to address the intertwined challenges of climate change and economic developments comprises:
- Implementing new strategies (e.g., new-debt relief interventions & instruments, debt restructuring) to prevent countries from defaulting on their debt obligations must be expanded. This comprises extended sovereign debt tenor and extending a 10-year grace period.
- Reducing the cost of capital for investment in Africa, crowding in, or de-risking private capital to attract private capital deployment. These measures may include blended finance instruments, purchase commitments, industrial policy collaboration, smart guarantee mechanisms, a mix of availing credit rating data, and additional concessional finance.
- Taking decisive action to advocate inclusive and effective international tax cooperation at the United Nations. The aim is to reduce Africa’s loss of 27 USD Billion annual corporate tax revenue by 50 percent and 70 percent, by 2030 and 2050, respectively.
The Africa Climate Summit exposes that Africa speaks with one voice, and its ability to define its own agenda. Thus, all the parties committed to strengthening the continental collaboration and advancing the implementation and operationalization of the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. Africa also calls upon world leaders and partners from Global North & South to recognize the dual benefits of decarbonizing the African economy, emphasizing that this transition can also contribute significantly to promoting equality and shared prosperity. The declaration calls for a comprehensive and systemic response to the emerging debt crisis, emphasizing the importance of creating fiscal space to support the financing of both development and climate action in all developing countries. It also proposes the establishment of a global tax regime to scale up financing for climate action, which may encompass mechanisms like financial transactions tax (FTT) and emission levies. Moreover, the declaration suggests the development of a new financing architecture responsive to Africa’s unique needs and the creation of a new Global Climate Finance Charter through UNGA and COP processes, with the target of achieving this by 2025.
As it is underscored by the IPCC reports (AR), Africa is warming faster than the global average, and addressing this is of utmost importance. It is worth noting that the Global North is responsible for 92 percent of the total excess of global carbon emissions, whereas the contribution of Africa to global warming is the least. Prioritizing the incorporation of mainstream adaptation projects into national development policies, which align with the countries’ nationally published NDCs and NAPs, is crucial to meet the country-specific needs for financial, technical, and technological support & transfer. Thus, the continent urges the partners for unification within the continent, but also collaboration with other regions.
The establishment of the Africa Climate Summit is announced by the Declaration as a recurring biennial event, convened by the African Union and hosted by AU Member States, to shape the continent’s new vision, considering emerging global climate and development issues and calls for the development of an implementation framework and roadmap by the African Union Commission.
From Nairobi to Dubai: Avenues at COP28
At the COP28, Dubai, world leaders convene to engage in discussions with representatives from civil society, business, youth, Indigenous Peoples’ organisations, frontline communities, science, and other sectors. The agenda spans critical areas such as health, finance, trade, education, urbanization, energy, and Indigenous rights, with the goal of forging a consensus on priority actions in response to climate change. COP28 will also recognize the culmination of the First Global Stocktake, offering a prompt and substantial response to the pressing need for accelerated progress through a comprehensive transformation of economic and social systems. Before the COP28, the Nairobi Declaration demonstrated a unified stance for the continent and set its priorities as it prepares for negotiations to secure additional funding.
The Declaration flags that, as highly underscored during the Summit, the following issues presumably will be subject to the negotiations, which will bolster funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation actions and other crosscutting issues:
- Establishing Africa as a prominent green hub, mobilization of adaptation finance, technology transfers, and innovation.
- The Declaration accentuates the necessity for collective action, and urgently initiating the 100 Billion Goal, which seeks to annually allocate funds to countries with limited capacity.
- In relation to adaptation efforts, there is a desire to establish a “global adaptation finance target”, accompanied by internationally recognized standards and metrics for assessing the allocation of financial resources.
- Scaling up concessional funding and de-risking private capital to incentivize private sector investment in Africa’s energy sector, enhance food security, and initiate sustainable agricultural practices.
- Proposing a new global taxation structure and reforms to international financial institutions.