(LONDON) — Dozens of world leaders and heads of state are gathered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, as the Africa Climate Summit 2023 — the continent’s first-ever climate summit — gets underway.
African Heads of State, high-profile dignitaries and thousands of delegates are set to debate over continent’s pressing climate change challenges and forge a path to a more resilient and sustainable future for the continent.
Launching the inaugural three-day summit on Monday, Kenyan President William Ruto, stressed that “this is no ordinary summit.”
“The time has come for us to break out of the shackles of low ambition. We must now begin to aim higher and strive for more, and better outcomes,” said Ruto.
The president made his way to the summit by driving himself there in a small electric vehicle.
“For a very long time, we have looked at this as a problem. There are immense opportunities as well,” he continued.
Ruto also added that the continent holds the potential to transform into a global hub in the green industrial supply chain.
“The continent has enough potential to be entirely self-sufficient with the mix of wind, solar, geothermal, sustainable biomass and hydropower,” he said. “Our ambition is audacious yet achievable: 100% renewable by 2030.”
The Kenyan leader called on increased climate investment as his call was heeded with millions of dollars in investment pledged as the summit enters its second day.
The UAE, which us due to host COP28, announced the biggest pledge so far with $4.5 billion towards clean energy initiatives.
Speaking at the inaugural summit, U.S. Climate envoy John Kerry reflected on the “acute and unfair debt” of the climate crisis on the continent.
“Of the 20 countries most affected by the climate crisis, 17 are here in Africa,” said Kerry.
According to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Africa contributes just 3.8% to global greenhouse gas emissions. However, the continent has so far taken the brunt of the effects of the global warming crisis, according to many experts, and has experienced various climate-related disasters.
At least 4,000 people have been killed, and 19 million more have been affected by extreme weather events in Africa since the beginning of 2022, according to research published by Science Direct.
“Twenty countries produce 80% of all the emissions, mine is one of them,” said Kerry. “Twenty countries. And it is critical for all those 20 countries to immediately take steps to get on the path to the Paris agreement [to] keep 1.5 degrees alive.”
Kerry on Tuesday announced the U.S. intends to provide an additional $30 million in food security and climate resilience efforts across the continent.
“I’m convinced that Africa can be at the heart of a renewable future,” said UN Chief Antonio Guterres. “From the Greater Horn of Africa, where over 85% of electricity generation comes from renewables, including massive hydropower projects in Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan. To wind and solar projects in Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. To Mozambique, which gets nearly 100% of its energy from green and sustainable sources.”
“Now is the time for all countries to stand as one in defense of our only home,” Guterres added.
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