Auction of the last African hinterland – Economy and ecology

by MMC
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Last week, African delegates gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, joined by thousands of their citizens and world leaders. THE African Climate Summit sought to define climate action and negotiation priorities for the continent. However, the adoption Nairobi Declarationas well as the fixation of delegates on carbon markets, further divide citizens.

Ironically, while Africa contributes less than 4 percent of global carbon emissions driving climate change, it is suffering disproportionately from the climate crisis. This is nothing new: climate change is having serious consequences on Africa, undermining economies, public health, food security and social structures. From the shifting sands of the Sahel region to rising tides off its coasts engulfing millions of lives and livelihoods – and increased security risks as climate change intensifies competition for dwindling resources – the reality is grim, predict climatologists. even more disastrous future scenarios.

Financing mitigation and adaptation projects in Africa has become a major challenge for African governments.

Addressing the impacts of climate change on the continent will require adequate financing to develop green and climate-resilient energy infrastructure for sustainable development. But financing Africa’s mitigation and adaptation projects has become a daunting challenge for Africa’s governments, and promises Efforts by the North to help the continent meet its climate aspirations have fallen short. According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the continent will need a on average $1.4 trillion between 2020 and 2030 to face its climate problems. But with many national budgets tied to huge foreign debts and climate actions competing with development priorities, this is almost impossible.

Faced with this range of challenges, the Nairobi Summit focused on the theme “Propelling green growth and climate finance solutions for Africa and the world”. True to its theme, the Summit attracted $23 billion in grants and commitments for green growth, mitigation and adaptation initiatives across the continent, with further investments in sight.

False solutions

The declaration adopted in Nairobi highlighted critical points for action in Africa. These included a call for a global carbon tax on fossil fuel trading activities, an urgent reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions and accelerated investment in projects clean energy on the continent, leveraging its natural green assets. The agreement also calls for the restructuring of multilateral financial systems to relieve African countries of debt repayments that hamper their climate actions.

However, on the sidelines of the Summit, some 500 African climate and civil society activists wept. During a demonstration nicknamed the ‘Real African Climate Summit“, they described the results of the meeting as exclusive of the African vision and loaded with a Western agenda. The main bone of contention was over African leaders’ decision to embrace carbon trading and credits as a means of mobilizing funds to meet their climate finance goals; At the summit, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, stressed that “Africa must develop its own carbon markets, price its carbon properly and transform its vast carbon sink into new sources of enormous wealth. Africa cannot be nature rich and cash poor.

Given Africa’s rich forests and green lands, it is no surprise that its leaders and foreign interests view them as carbon sinks for profit.

In the wake of these sentiments, the meeting was the scene of remarkable engagements. The United Arab Emirates has committed to purchasing 450 million dollars in carbon credits of the African Carbon Market Initiative (ACMI) – an initiative launched last year by several African governments at the COP 27 summit in Egypt.

But what about carbon credits? THE Kyoto Protocol was the first to lay the foundations for emissions trading and other related financial instruments. Essentially, carbon credits are permits that allow entities with significant greenhouse gas emissions to compensate for their carbon footprint by purchasing credits on established carbon markets. Money from these credits is used to manage environmentally friendly projects such as tree planting and forest preservation programs that sequester an equivalent amount of carbon corresponding to the credits purchased. The global market for voluntary carbon offsetting is worth approximately 2 billion dollars.

Given Africa’s rich forests and green lands, it is no surprise that its leaders and foreign interests view them as carbon sinks for profit. At the Nairobi meeting, John Kerry, the US president’s special climate envoy present at the assembly, encouraged African governments to strengthen climate finance by play on the carbon marketexploiting their vast forest resources.

Perpetuate the status quo

However, this approach merits further examination, both in terms of its effectiveness in reducing global emissions and its wider implications for the continent. Proponents of this approach argue that spending money to buy climate credits will sooner or later incentivize emitters to reduce their emissions to save money. They also say it will provide Africa with crucial climate finance, particularly in light of climate commitments not met by developed countries responsible for most shows. However, this logic is not only illusory but also raises a moral question. Why should Africa, which contributes the least to global emissions, bear the brunt of mitigation responsibilities while the main culprits persist in their harmful emissions?

In a report published on the sidelines of the Summit, the climate think tank, Power Shift Africa exactly describe carbon credits as “essentially pollution permits – an imaginary good created to benefit the rich, not the climate”.

Carbon credits perpetuate the status quo of global emissions because wealthy nations and corporations will always prioritize the profits of their emitting companies over the cost of credits. Furthermore, while this approach may provide some semblance of accountability to wealthy nations and corporations, they often exacerbate the consequences of their actions on vulnerable communities. This is evident in how the increasing commodification of African ecosystems is paving the way for a new era of ecocolonialism and capitalism on the continent in which companies are rushing towards Africa’s green assets while offering tokens for it.

Rather than negotiating targeted social investments, technical support and capacity for affected communities, the Summit further endorsed the stifling of Africa for continued profits.

Additionally, there is a downside to these markets that often goes unnoticed, particularly in many parts of Africa where governance structures are weak and fail to protect local populations from corporate exploitation. Examples include Uganda And Kenyawhere land acquisitions for carbon sinks undermine the rights of indigenous peoples, displacing communities and excluding them from decision-making – thus worsening socio-economic inequalities.

Unfortunately, many African countries at the Nairobi Summit are grappling with climate-induced crises. These disruptions, caused by relentless fossil fuel emissions, have disrupted countless lives. Rather than negotiating targeted social investments, technical support and capacity for affected communities, the Summit further endorsed the stifling of Africa for continued profits.

At COP 27, negotiators reached a historic agreement to establish a loss and damage financing mechanism, marking a political victory for developing countries reeling from the impacts of climate change. However, essential aspects of the fund’s implementation were postponed until COP 28. Nairobi should have been an opportunity for African leaders to define the parameters of compensation for climate victims on the continent. Although the final text emphasized the need to implement a loss and damage fund, Africa’s growing fixation on carbon markets has lessened the urgency of this demand.

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