NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The first African Climate Summit is opening as heads of state and others assert a stronger voice on a global issue that affects the continent of 1.3 billion people the most, even as they contribute to it the least. Kenyan President William Ruto’s government is launching the ministerial session on Monday
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The first African Climate Summit is opening as heads of state and others assert a stronger voice on a global issue that affects the continent of 1.3 billion people the most, even as they contribute to it the least.
Kenyan President William Ruto’s government is launching the ministerial session on Monday while more than a dozen heads of state begin to arrive, determined to wield more global influence and bring in far more financing and support. The first speakers included youth, who demanded a bigger voice in the process.
There is some frustration on the continent about being asked to develop in cleaner ways than the world’s richest countries, which have long produced most of the emissions that endanger climate, and to do it while much of the support that has been pledged hasn’t appeared.
“This is our time,” Mithika Mwenda with the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance told the gathering, asserting that the annual flow of climate assistance to the continent is about $16 billion, a tenth or less of what is needed and a “fraction” of the budget of some polluting companies.
Outside attendees to the summit include United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and the U.S. government’s climate envoy, John Kerry.
Ruto’s video welcome released before the summit was heavy on tree-planting but didn’t mention his administration’s decision this year to lift a yearslong ban on commercial logging, which alarmed environmental watchdogs. The decision has been challenged in court, while the government says only mature trees in state-run plantations would be harvested.
Kenya derives much of its power from renewables and has banned single-use plastic bags, but it struggles with some other climate-friendly adaptations. Trees were chopped down to make way for the expressway that some summit attendees travelled from the airport, and bags of informally made charcoal are found on some Nairobi street corners.
Ruto made his way to Monday’s events in a small electric car, a contrast to the usual government convoys, on streets cleared of the sometimes poorly maintained buses and vans belching smoke.
Challenges for the African continent include simply being able to forecast and monitor the weather in order to avert thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in damages.
Cara Anna And Evelyne Musambi, The Associated Press