The Africa Climate Summit, which ended on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, has been accused of failing to agree on a new development model that will end the continent’s dependence on fossil fuels.
The African Leaders Nairobi Declaration calls for “commitments to a fair and accelerated process of phasing down coal, and abolishment of all fossil fuel subsidies” missing the opportunity to recognise the urgent need to phase out all fossil fuels as an essential first step towards a just transition in Africa.
African civil society had been warning for weeks about the risk of such a disappointing and dangerous conclusion for the future of the African continent and the planet, due to the intervention of foreign interests in the Summit’s agenda, in order to ensure that their interests and profits are maintained at the expense of the African people and the climate.
Seble Samuel, Head of Africa Campaigns & Advocacy for the Fossil Fuel Treaty initiative, said: “Despite Africa being home to more power from the sun, wind and water than any other continent on Earth, the Africa Climate Summit missed the chance to leverage this unparalleled potential. The Nairobi Declaration failed to call for the end of the three biggest perpetrators of the climate emergency: oil, gas and coal, and instead put forward dangerous distractions such as carbon markets.
“This narrative is not by accident, but by design. African civil society has been denouncing the hijacking of the summit by foreign interests. What is needed are the demands of the African people’s movements for alternative and sovereign development models, an end to the fossil fuel era and a people-centred transition to renewable energy for all.”
The declaration comes right after the UNSG issued a new, very clear request to the world’s major developed and emerging economies: “Here from Africa I make a very strong appeal to the large emitters, the G20 countries that are responsible for 80 per cent of the emissions that will be meeting this week in Delhi. Assume your responsibilities.”
Patience Nabukalu, Ugandan activist, member of Friday’s for Future and Stop EACOP, stated: “The Africa Climate Summit was an opportunity to start defusing all the continent’s climate bombs, such as EACOP. By refusing to enshrine in black and white any form of commitment to stop the continued expansion of fossil fuels, the Africa Summit is ignoring the demands and solutions of the African people who are calling for an end to the fossil fuel era. Oil, gas and coal exploitation will never bring development.
“We, African civil society, have a plan to ensure a sustainable and just future for us all. This plan does not include the exploitation of our resources for the comfort of the Global North. On the contrary, their role is to support the most vulnerable and least responsible countries in their energy transition, which is why it is essential to set up a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
Fadhel Kaboub, associate professor of economics at Denison University and president of The Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity, stated: “It’s not surprising, unfortunately, but extremely disappointing that the Africa Climate Summit got stuck in the fossil fuel trap. While it could have been an opportunity for African decision-makers to demonstrate their potential for climate leadership, and an opportunity for the countries of the North to help the continent benefit from it, this summit merely reproduced the usual economic dynamics that underpin inequalities and are known as ‘development policies’. Africa is not a bottomless pit for rich countries.
“On the contrary, they owe a monumental debt to the African people. It is time for them to show real international cooperation, which means helping the continent to move gradually and fairly away from dependence on fossil fuels in order to accelerate its energy transition. It is time for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, the missing mechanism to enable Africa and the world to build a future free of fossil fuels.”