African leaders are asserting a firmer voice on a global issue that affects the continent’s 1.3 billion inhabitants the most, despite the fact that they contribute the least to it.
The government of Kenyan President William Ruto is commencing the ministerial session on Monday, as more than a dozen heads of state begin to arrive with the intention of exerting greater global influence and securing vastly more funding and support. Youth who demanded a greater voice in the process were among the first to speak.
The continent is frustrated that it is expected to develop in healthier ways than the world’s wealthiest nations, which have long produced the majority of climate-threatening emissions, and that much of the promised support has not yet materialized.
“This is our time,” Mithika Mwenda of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance told the gathering, stating that the annual flow of climate assistance to the continent is approximately $16 billion, a tenth or less of what is required and a “fraction” of the budgets of some polluting corporations.
Climate Summit with John Kerry and UN Chief, Kenyan Forestry Policy Under Scrutiny
John Kerry, the U.S. government’s climate envoy, and Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, are among the guests at the summit.
Ruto’s pre-summit video greeting focused heavily on tree-planting, but made no mention of his administration’s alarming decision this year to lift a decades-long prohibition on commercial forestry. The decision has been challenged in court, and the government has stated that only mature trees on state-owned plantations will be harvested.
Kenya obtains the majority of its electricity from renewable sources and has outlawed the use of single-use plastic bags, but it struggles with other climate-friendly adaptations. Trees were hacked down to make way for the expressway that some summit attendees travelled from the airport, and sacks of informally made charcoal are found on some Nairobi street corners.
Ruto arrived at Monday’s events in a small electric car, a departure from the usual government convoys, on streets cleared of the smoky buses and vehicles that are sometimes inadequately maintained.
In order to prevent tens of thousands of fatalities and billions of dollars in damages, one of the continent’s greatest difficulties is forecasting and observing the weather.