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 Ruto hosted the African Climate Summit

In a joint statement, African leaders proposed a global carbon tax regime.

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

The document, published on Wednesday, calls for big polluters to allocate more funds to help poorer countries.

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

The African climate summit was dominated by discussions on how to mobilize finance to adapt to increasingly extreme weather conditions, conserve natural resources and develop renewable energy.

Africa is among the most vulnerable continents to the impact of climate change, but receives only about 12% of the nearly US$300 billion (£240 billion) in annual funding it needs to cope, according to researchers.

The Nairobi Declaration called on world leaders “to rally behind a proposal for a global carbon taxation regime, including a carbon tax on fossil fuel trade, shipping and aviation, which could also be augmented by a global financial transaction tax”.

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

“Africa is an actor, the world cannot go without Africa at the center,” she said.

“Africa is not here to be helped. Africa is here to offer investment opportunities, to offer solutions.”

The Nairobi Declaration states that such measures would provide large-scale financing for climate-related investments and insulate the issue of tax increases from geopolitical and domestic political pressures.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), around two dozen countries are currently implementing carbon taxes, but the idea of ​​a global carbon tax regime has not gained much traction.

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

Conservation groups said in 2011 that the money raised from the tax should fund environmental priorities, but the European Commission's proposal never got the unanimous European Council approval it needs to become law.

Joab Bwire Okanda, senior adviser at the charity Christian Aid, said the call for a global carbon tax was welcome, but “to really make polluters pay, bogus solutions like carbon credits that give polluters a free ride, without taking meaningful action.” thrown in the trash”.

Some activists say the credits, which allow polluters to offset emissions by financing green activities, are an excuse for big polluters to keep emitting carbon dioxide.

Mr Ruto said international governments, development banks, private investors and philanthropists committed a total of $23bn (£18bn) to green projects over the three days, including hundreds of millions for the Large Carbon Markets Initiative.

But African leaders have acknowledged that these types of investments only scratch the surface of the continent's financial needs, and said more systemic changes are needed.

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

Protesters also criticized the conference, demonstrating outside the event against an African plan to sell carbon credits to foreign countries.

Several foreign companies and countries have committed hundreds of millions to buy carbon credits from the Africa Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI), including the United Arab Emirates, which has pledged to buy $450m (£358m).

Elvira Parkinson

"Alcohol scholar. Hardcore tv junkie. Wannabe bacon enthusiast. Twitter fanatic. Subtly charming travel guru. Pop culture specialist."