Groups praise the summit, but carbon trading continues to draw ire

Groups praise the summit, but carbon trading continues to draw ire

Several groups praised the agreements reached at the Nairobi climate change summit, but also pointed out what they said were missed opportunities.

The carbon credit initiative, which has attracted one of the highest funding pledges ever, has drawn both praise and criticism.

Some groups say the process will worsen climate conditions such as drought and disease outbreaks.

Carbon trading allows companies to continue to pollute as long as they pay to support projects that offset their pollution elsewhere. Those projects include tree planting.

Nairobi-based policy lobby Power Shift Africa has led several non-profits to oppose the programs saying “African leaders should avoid falling into the trap of taking over the continent”.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were pledged at the recently concluded African Climate Summit, including Sh65.7 billion ($450 million) by the UAE Carbon Alliance, to boost Africa’s carbon credit output 19-fold by 2030.

Other funders of carbon projects are Britain ($62 million), Germany ($65 million) and Climate Asset Management ($200 million).

The groups suggested that the carbon schemes would open the floodgates of pollution by Global North governments and companies while generating high profits for carbon debt sponsors.

PowerShift Africa’s Mohamed Adow has dismissed carbon schemes as ‘permission to pollute’.

He said, “For the rich polluters, this is a silver bullet and a pain reliever that allows them to keep pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But in Africa, they are a placebo drug that ends up making the pain of climate change worse.”

He said that if the African Carbon Market Initiative meets its ambitions, private companies will have the freedom to emit 2.5 billion tons of additional carbon annually by 2050 in exchange for purchased pollution permits. This will drive pollution beyond the limits our climate and planet can tolerate.

He suggested that some traders sell credits for three times the price they paid for the project they actually created.

Hardi Yakubu, coordinator of Africans Rising, a local non-profit, said polluters should aim for “true zero” and not “zero zero” as soon as possible.

“The planet has reached a watershed moment in the climate crisis that does not allow the illusion of offsets in our world. Why are our leaders afraid to call those who are facing this crisis and want to answer them? Whose interests are they serving? The polluters must pay now,” he said.

Tasneem Essop, executive director of the Climate Action Network, said carbon markets are designed to take power away from local communities and governments and give it to elites who work for themselves.

“This is fueling neo-colonialism and African leaders should reject things like carbon markets that are creeping into Africa as solutions to the climate crisis,” he said.

President Ruto said Africa’s carbon sinks are “unfathomable gold mines”.

“They have the capacity to absorb millions of tons of CO2 per year, which should be translated into billions of dollars,” he said on Monday.

The head of ACS Joseph Nganga, said that the carbon markets work “not as a reason for emissions but as a way to ensure accountability” as rich polluting countries bear the cost.

The international body known as the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, has praised the convention.

However, the lobby said the summit missed an opportunity to call for a phase-out of all fossil fuels as an important first step towards a just transition in Africa.

Seble Samuel, head of Africa campaigns and lobby representation, said, “The Nairobi declaration failed to call for the elimination of the three main drivers of the climate crisis: oil, gas and coal, instead it prioritized dangerous disruptions such as carbon markets.”

He added, “This statement did not happen, but by design. Organizations of African countries have been criticizing the hijacking of this conference by foreign members. What is needed are the demands of the African people’s movement towards an alternative and independent development model, the end of the fossil age and a people-centred transition to renewable energy for all. “

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