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Driving green growth and finance solutions

An evaluation of the African Climate Summit

by Ayooluwa Ogunsola

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of attending the African Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. Nairobi, a bustling city with traffic and unfamiliar driving from my home country was not what shocked me the most. It was the symbolic notion that “Kenya is home” that resonated deeply.

This figurative concept of “home” extended to the summit itself, where world leaders, civil society organizations, climate change activists, the press, and businesses from all over Africa converged like a unified family. They gather to confront one of the most pressing threats: climate change.

The summit, themed “Driving Green Growth and Finance Solutions,” was co-sponsored by the African Union and the Kenyan government while drawing representation from all 54 African countries.

This event specifically showcased renewable energy as a key focus, highlighting Kenya as a renewable energy leader, with 91 percent of its energy deriving from renewable sources. This positioned Africa as not just a continent in development but also as a pioneer in the fight against climate change.

However, discussions primarily revolved around the role of climate finance in Africa. Issues such as debt being a barrier for fossil fuel transition and the lack of renewable energy funding were central. President Ruto, the leader of Kenya, proposed a plan to finance Africa’s renewable energy through carbon credits. As a result, countries like the United Arab Emirates pledged substantial investments in carbon credits, while the United Kingdom and Germany explored debt swaps for climate action.

In a remarkable statement, the European Union declared its intention to collaborate with Africa beyond resource extraction. They aimed to create local value chains and provide job opportunities for the continent’s youth.

As a climate activist, my idea is that the African Climate Summit shared many bold ideas, but failed in its urgency. In Africa, a 2-degree rise in temperature means more floods, droughts, heatwaves, food insecurity, loss and damage, climate migration, and other climate impacts. We need to stop new extraction projects and not encourage the green-washing approach through the carbon credits system, which is not sustainable as a continent.

Africa is disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. Continued exploitation of this crisis jeopardizes the continent’s future. Therefore, collective action becomes Africa’s greatest hope, uniting nations and stakeholders in the shared goal of mitigating climate change’s impact on this vital region.

Ayooluwa Folakunmi Ogunsola

Ecodiversified International/SR/FFF/The Compass Online/D4C/GPU

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