Africa proposes global carbon taxes to fight climate change

  • By Wedaeli Chibelushi & Mercy Juma
  • BBC News, London & Nairobi

image source, Rex/Shutterstock

image caption,

Kenyan President William Rudo hosted the Africa Climate Summit

African leaders have proposed a global carbon tax system in a joint declaration.

The Nairobi Declaration closed the three-day African Climate Summit in the Kenyan capital.

The document, released on Wednesday, called for big polluters to commit more resources to helping poor countries.

African leaders said they would use this as the basis for their negotiating position at the COP28 summit in November.

The African climate summit was dominated by discussions on how to raise funds to cope with increasingly extreme weather, protect natural resources and promote renewable energy.

Africa is among the continents most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, but according to researchers, it receives only 12% of the nearly $300bn (£240bn) of annual funding it needs to deal with.

The Nairobi Declaration urged world leaders to “rally behind a proposal for a global carbon taxation regime, including a carbon tax on fossil fuel trade, maritime transport and aviation”.

Human rights activist Graça Machel told the BBC the announcement was “a big step forward”.

“Africa is a player and the world cannot go without putting Africa at the centre,” he said.

“Africa is not here to help. Africa is here to provide opportunities to provide investments, to provide solutions.”

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), about two dozen countries currently tax carbon, but the idea of ​​a global carbon tax system has failed to gain much traction.

On Tuesday, Kenyan President William Ruto referred to past proposals in the European Union for a financial transaction tax.

In 2011 conservation groups called for money raised from the tax to fund environmental priorities, but the European Commission’s proposal did not receive unanimous approval from the European Council to become law.

Job Bwire Okanda, a senior adviser at the charity Christian Aid, said the call for a global carbon tax is welcome, but “for polluters to actually pay, we need flawed solutions like carbon credits that allow polluters to free ride without taking meaningful action. Consigned to the dustbin”.

Some activists say the credits, which allow polluters to offset emissions by funding green initiatives, are an excuse for big polluters to release carbon dioxide.

Mr Ruto said international governments, development banks, private investors and philanthropists had committed $23bn (£18bn) to green projects in three days, including hundreds of millions for a major carbon market initiative.

But African leaders have acknowledged that those kinds of investments only scratch the surface of the continent’s financial needs and say more systemic changes are needed.

Some analysts said the summit did not focus enough on how to help Africans adapt to extreme weather.

Protesters criticized the conference, demonstrating outside the event against Africa’s plan to sell carbon credits to foreign countries.

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