6 sept. Nairobi: Today, the African Union released The African Leaders Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and Call to Action on the last day of the Africa Climate Summit. This week, 17 Heads of State, Ministers and Members of Parliament came together to discuss the nuanced issues of climate change, climate change finance and the future of Africa’s energy system.

Alongside this summit, 500 African Civil Society Organisations (Africa People’s Climate Assembly) organized the Real Africa Climate Summit to highlight the disregard of the interests and voices of the African people and to provide an alternative space to share experiences and provide solutions for real climate action.

During the summit, the overarching sentiment has been that Africa has to become a hub for clean energy and a leader in low-carbon economy-based development. However, civil society has been concerned about the agenda on false solutions such as carbon markets,carbon credits and the use of technology as a viable alternative to phasing out harmful fossil fuels. These concepts are led by Global North interests and are  being marketed as African priorities when in reality they will embolden wealthy nations and large corporations to continue polluting the Africa.

As a response to the agenda that did not represent the people’s interest, civil society actors organised a People’s March and Assembly and launched a People’s Declaration to counter the official Declaration of the Summit.

Civil society reaction to the Declaration of Nairobi: 

“The Declaration insists that Africa has a chance to be part of the solution with its renewable energy potential. African civil society has known this and has been demanding a 100% renewable future for Africa. At the same time, we see that Africa has been and is currently still being used as an extraction hub for gas and other fossils to close energy gaps in the Global North. The Declaration also mentions biodiversity hotspots, but these areas are not being spared in the quest for more oil and gas by the fossil fuel industry. Deltas in Namibia and Senegal are set to become regions of environmental degradation and human rights violations just like the Niger Delta after it was pummeled by oil extraction. Additionally, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) is cutting through transboundary protected sites.

“Suggestions of solutions mean little without any mention of phasing out ALL fossil fuels, not just coal. Any solution that allows business as usual from the fossil fuel industry and that emphasizes clean-up instead of closing sources of dirty energy is bound to fail and cause even more havoc on the environment and communities. The African Union needs to be bold and discuss decolonising Africa’s energy sector instead. We need strong and clear calls for reparations and system change in this critical moment instead of lukewarm self-contradicting statements. It is time that world leaders and financial institutions put in the work and money to ensure that Africa has a just transition to renewable energy instead of being locked into more fossil fuels.” – Thuli Makama, Africa Senior Advisor, Oil Change International

“The Declaration of the African Climate Summit barely escaped living up to its billing as a carbon stock exchange jamboree. It is loaded with platitudes pandering to worn ideas of the carbon market, green growth and so-called land degradation neutrality and other false solutions. The declaration is an open route for green colonialism that could render the continent a vast carbon sink and experimental grounds for polluting nations and corporations. It makes no mention of the need for the payment of climate debt, a key source of climate finance.  

We are particularly shocked that despite the declaration acknowledging that 60 per cent of the population are small-scale farmers, very little is said about supporting them and nothing is said of enhancing the practice of agroecology, which is a real climate solution.

The Declaration is a disappointment and portends a doleful outcome from COP28.” – Nnimmo Bassey, Founder, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF)

“It is crucial for Africa to prioritize building renewable energy systems, electrification,  infrastructure and technologies. There’s a concern that some climate solutions are driven by Western interests rather than truly benefiting Africa. We need to reshape our agenda and involve African experts who understand our unique challenges. I’m particularly concerned about the promotion of what I see as false solutions, like carbon credits and geo-engineering. These approaches may serve the interests of wealthy nations and corporations, allowing them to continue polluting while claiming to be part of the solution. We should prioritize Africa’s interests and transition away from fossil fuels in a just and equitable manner.” –  Muhammed Lamin Saidykh, Head of Building Power, CAN- International 

“Existing policies in Africa can be effective if they are backed by concrete  actions. We cannot keep using the same old extractivist model and expect a different result. What should be Africa’s focus now is to stop the contributors to climate change at source and not looking for shortcuts to keep extracting using the smokescreen of the carbon market, geoengineering, and other false solutions. Africa should champion a people-led and centered just transition to 100% renewable energy with utmost care for the environment. African energy systems should be developed to meet the needs of the continent rather than thinking only of energy for export. 

Our energy sovereignty is paramount if we are to grow and move forward. This Nairobi Declaration is short of these ideas and it could just be another beautiful document heading for the shelves.” – Maimoni Mariere Ubrei-Joe, Coordinator, Climate Justice and Energy Program, Friends of the Earth Africa.

“The Green Connection can commend the call to action by the African leaders at the Nairobi Summit but we also have to raise concerns about the approach taken.  We want to restore African landscapes and ensure that community ownership and conservation through indigenous knowledge is part of it. We are concerned that the call for the exploitation of renewable energy minerals falls in the same pattern of exploitation and colonialism that we have had to fight for hundreds of years and the idea that small-scale farmers aren’t seen as part of the bigger climate solution but seen as a green growth initiative is also of concern. 

We need local solutions, value add and not the same extractive exploitation pattern that we have seen in the past. Community ownership, management and the use of indigenous knowledge to ensure our eco-systems are resilient and can support people’s livelihoods. The provision of the finance needed should not be in the form of climate debt but in the form of reparations from those countries in the North who have caused climate change problems. It is time to move away from fossil fuels but we must ensure that the way renewables are implemented does not repeat the same pattern of exploitation and extraction.” Liz McDaid, Strategic Lead, The Green Connection

“As a young person who is deeply invested in the future of my continent, I am glad to see that there is consideration to have a unified African position towards COP28. However I feel that the declaration does not truly represent our interests as youth who do not want Africa to continue with new fossil fuel projects or be the Global North’s shopping center and dumping ground at the expense of African citizens. The participation of youth in this summit and creation of the declaration has raised the concern of youth being tokenised and considered to be separate from everyone else. Our faces are used to tick boxes rather than us being truly included in forming intergenerational solutions that engage us rather than keep us on the outskirts.” – Lisakhanya Mathiso, Field Officer and Spokesperson, African Climate Alliance

“Civil society showed up in numbers to call for less talk and more action at the Africa climate summit. This is a pan African movement that must not and cannot be ignored. Greenpeace Africa rejects efforts to hijack the summit through promoting false solutions. We cannot allow the richest nations and corporations to commodify nature. Nature-based offsetting projects distort economies and take land and resources away from the local communities that need it most. Nature should remain off limits to corporate control for climate offsets. On top of the damage it enables, offsetting also distracts from needed climate action and rapid phase out of coal, gas and oil.”- Dr. Oulie Keita, Executive Director, Greenpeace Africa.

“Africa holds more than 40% of key minerals required for clean energy technologies. Clearly, the world needs Africa’s minerals to transition away from fossil fuels, but decarbonization in the North cannot come at the cost of energy poverty, abuse and environmental degradation in Africa – the likely result if natural resources are not managed equitably. The Nairobi Declaration calls for Africa to process its own raw materials to fuel its own energy generation, and this must now be followed with action. African governments and the institutions that support them must set a concrete and viable path to ensure ‘transition minerals’ serve long-term African development needs. Urgent actions include reinforcing the fight against corruption, stronger collaboration across African countries on industrial policies and diversification, and, crucially, putting citizens at the center of decision-making. As the African People’s Declaration on Climate and Development says, Africa’s minerals must add value to the lives and the future of all Africans.” Nafi Chinery, Africa Director, NRGI“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-centered transition to renewable energy for all.” – Seble Samuel, Head of Africa Campaigns & Advocacy for the Fossil Fuel Treaty initiative.