Nairobi hosted the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS23) on September 4-6, 2023. Organized by the African Union and hosted by the Government of Kenya, the Summit brought together 17 African Heads of State and Government and other leaders from across the continent and globe, including the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres and the President of the European Union Ursula von der Leyen.
Under the theme “Driving green growth and climate finance solutions for Africa and the World”, the Summit focused on five key areas: climate finance, loss and damage, energy transition and green jobs, sustainable agriculture and nature-based solutions.
The outcome document of the Summit was the Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and Call to Action. It will form the basis for Africa’s position during the Conference of the Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Dubai in November. In the Declaration, African countries committed to and called for:
- Accelerating all efforts to reduce carbon emissions to align with goals set forth in the 2015 Paris Agreement (such as limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or less);
- Upholding commitments to a fair and accelerated process of phasing down coal, and abolishment of all fossil fuel subsidies;
- Developed countries to fulfil their commitment to provide $100 billion per year (pledged 14 years ago) in climate financing by 2023;
- Swift operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund to help developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change – by COP28;
- Restructuring of the climate financing architecture to be responsive to Africa’s needs. For example, restructuring of existing debt and fair and flexible terms for climate financing;
- Establishment of a carbon taxation regime, including a carbon tax on fossil fuel trade, maritime transport and aviation, that may also be augmented by a global financial transaction tax;
- Global leaders to join Africa in seizing this unprecedented opportunity to accelerate global decarbonization, while pursuing equality and shared prosperity.
Notably, the Declaration recognises the role of nature and biodiversity in resolving the climate crisis. There are six references to “biodiversity” and four to “nature.” In clause 24, African leaders commit themselves to “Strengthening actions to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, deforestation, desertification, as well as to restore degraded lands to achieve land degradation neutrality.”
Climate Finance commitments
During the Summit, $4.5 billion was committed to climate adaptation and mitigation. Pledges made were from governments, businesses, and development partners. The United States pledged $3 billion annually for adaptation, as part of its President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE) initiative. The United Arab Emirates pledged $1 billion for climate action in Africa. The African Development Bank (AfDB) committed $1 billion for the African Adaptation Initiative and $100 million for the Climate Resilience Adaptation Finance and Technology Transfer Facility.
It was agreed that the Africa Climate Summit will be held every two years.