For the first time, a climate summit is taking place that is primarily about Africa. The continent is suffering greatly from the consequences of the climate crisis, but contributes comparatively little to the climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions.

For this reason, African countries want to focus on the global financing of climate protection projects on the continent during the three-day summit meeting in the Kenyan capital Nairobi starting today. The expansion of renewable energies and the diversity of mineral resources that are important for the energy transition will also be discussed.

Also representatives from Germany

Kenya’s President William Ruto and the African Union are hosting the summit. African heads of state and representatives of the United Nations, international governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations are expected to attend. The Parliamentary State Secretary in the Development Ministry, Bärbel Kofler (SPD), and the Commissioner for International Climate Policy at the Federal Foreign Office, Jennifer Morgan, will represent Germany.

Climate change can be clearly felt in Africa: The Horn of Africa is experiencing the worst drought in 40 years. Millions are also food insecure in the Sahel, which stretches from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east. Extreme weather events such as hurricanes and floods are becoming more common. Seven out of ten climate crises identified in a study by the non-governmental organization Oxfam are in Africa.

“Motivate other countries to follow suit”

The summit is an opportunity for the continent to “actively promote important solutions itself,” said Kerstin Opfer, an expert on energy policy and civil society in Africa at the environmental and development organization Germanwatch. “If African countries can show that the expansion of renewable energies and simultaneous economic progress is possible, then that would have the potential to motivate other countries to follow suit.”

For the consequences of climate change that are already noticeable today, African states are demanding compensation from the industrialized countries, which have made a massive contribution to global warming. Africa, so the argument goes, is statistically responsible for less than four percent of global warming, but pays the highest price. According to estimates by the African Development Bank, climate-related natural disasters cost countries between 7 and 15 billion US dollars a year. By 2030, these losses could increase to $50 billion annually.

Pandemic and war shifted focus

In Nairobi, Africa therefore wants to once again remind the industrialized countries of their financial obligations – for example when it comes to financing climate projects in the Global South. Since 2020, states have committed to raising 100 billion US dollars annually for this. The aim is to save emissions and finance projects to adapt to climate change. It has long been known that the industrialized countries have not met this goal. Money has flowed into other areas, especially since the corona pandemic and the war of aggression in Ukraine.

Demands for debt relief are also likely to play an important role at the summit. “The climate crisis can only be overcome if countries in the Global South are freed from their overwhelming debt burden and given budgetary leeway to invest in the future,” said Klaus Schilder, Misereor’s development finance officer.

Renewable energies and natural resources

In return, Africa has a lot to offer the world community: the continent has ideal conditions for the production of solar and wind energy and has mineral resources such as lithium, copper, rare earths and silicon that are critical for the energy transition. There is also enormous “natural capital” such as forests, arable land, water and marine resources.

According to a report by think tank PowerShift Africa, Africa’s renewable energy production potential is 50 times greater than the world’s expected electricity needs by 2040. Africa has “an abundance of clean, renewable energy,” said Director Mohamed Adow. “But to unleash them, Africa needs funds from countries that have become rich from our suffering.”

The example of Kenya shows that it is possible to realize the potential. The East African country of 53 million people has set itself the goal of completing its energy transition by 2030. Already today, more than three quarters of Kenyan energy comes from renewable sources; in the next seven years, this should increase to 100 percent. A few months ago, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) described Kenya as a “real climate champion”.

Morgan: Federal government wants to make commitments

During the summit, Germany will plead for a “significant acceleration of the expansion of renewable energies worldwide, a clear exit path from fossil fuels and strong partnerships – between Africa and Europe and worldwide”, said State Secretary Morgan. The federal government therefore wants to make a number of commitments, including debt conversion for climate adaptation, protection against climate risks and forest protection.

The summit is to end with a “Nairobi Declaration”, which is intended to set important signals and goals, also for the forthcoming world climate conference starting November 30 in Dubai.