Africa’s first climate summit kicks off

African leaders are in Nairobi this week to kick off the first-ever African Climate Summit, as the continent seeks to rally around a shared vision ahead of November’s COP28 climate summit in the UAE.

Africa’s interests in the topic are clear:

  • 🌡️ The continent is disproportionately impacted by rising temperatures despite emitting only 2-3% of global emissions
  • ⛏️ Many of the minerals needed for the energy transition (such as cobalt, lithium and copper) are found in Africa, and
  • 🌍 Africa’s population is projected to nearly double to 2.5 billion people by 2050, with rising energy demand to match

So what exactly are Africa’s leaders discussing?

  • 💰 Climate financing: They’re calling on rich countries to uphold their 2009 $100B per year green financing pledge, while exploring additional options (like carbon credit markets) to raise funds
  • 🌾 Sustainable food systems: The agricultural sector accounts for 35% of Africa’s GDP, but it’ll need to grow significantly and sustainably to serve the continent’s growing population
  • 💡 Electrification: Nearly 600 million folks on the continent lack access to electricity, limiting the impact of renewable energy
  • 🌺 Biodiversity:Almost two thirds of Africa’s rural residents depend directly on natural ecosystems for their basic needs

Intrigue’s take: International summits serve all kinds of purposes: among the photo ops, pageantry, and stressed-out diplomats (including us in a former life), these events help world leaders send messages to each other, their own citizens, investors, and the world at large.

And notwithstanding some of the challenges above, the core message from the summit co-host (Kenya’s president) seems to be this: Africa is a climate opportunity, not just a victim.

Also worth noting:

  • In his opening address, Kenyan President William Ruto also said 92% of Kenya’s electricity comes from renewable sources.
  • On day one of the summit, UAE investors committed to buying $450M of carbon credits from the Africa Carbon Markets Initiative, which was launched at Egypt’s COP27 summit last year.
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