Dear President William Ruto,
We are gravely concerned about the direction the African Climate Summit is taking.
We look up to you as Africa’s most senior leader on climate change. As the Chairperson of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), you are the fulcrum around which Africa’s interests and position on climate issues revolves as defined by African Ministers (AMCEN) and officials (AGN).
The summit is a tremendous opportunity to chart a new course for the continent that creates a leadership vision for a cleaner, safer and prosperous future that protects our people, our food systems, water resources and biodiversity.
This vision must boost our collective efforts to build our renewable energy systems and electrification infrastructure on a scale that benefits millions of Africans while inspiring other countries to make interventions that prevent further global heating.
Rather than advancing Africa’s interests and position on critical climate issues, the summit has been seized by Western governments, consultancy companies and philanthropic organisations hellbent on pushing a pro-West agenda and interests at the expense of Africa.
Even more worryingly, the agenda of the Summit has been unduly influenced by US-based consultancy firm McKinsey & Company. The lead of African officials and ministers has been pushed on the backburner.
These developments are seriously unsettling.
The Summit concept note, as proposed by McKinsey & Company, reflects the interests of the US, McKinsey and the western corporations they represent. Meanwhile, Africa’s stated priorities are conspicuously missing, as a result.
Moreover, the so-called “think tanks committee” set up to drive negotiations at the Summit is chaired by individuals who represent UK and US-based organisations and not African organisations.
The content for the Summit – including major initiatives – is being spearheaded by McKinsey, with the World Resources Institute now competing to shape the agenda and its outcomes. Both are headquartered in the United States and do not champion Africa’s interests.
Some African organisations that advance Western agenda have also been given a disproportionately huge role in the organisation of the event.
The result is a Summit agenda that foregrounds the position and interests of the West, namely, carbon markets, carbon sequestration and “climate positive” approaches. These concepts and false solutions are led by Western interests while being marketed as African priorities. In truth, though, these approaches will embolden wealthy nations and large corporations to continue polluting the world, much to Africa’s detriment.
African professionals and leaders are aware of the capture of this Summit by non-Africans and some are already threatening to not attend. This trend will grow as word spreads that this is not an African conference. The risk is the collapse of the event in the eleventh hour.
But all is not lost, Mr President. Things can still be remedied. We, therefore, call for an urgent reset of the Summit in a manner that puts Africa’s interests first.
As an African Head of State who champions the continent’s interests in the climate discourse, you have gained international recognition for fronting transformative ideas and being firm in this cause. Similarly, there is a wealth of African-led ideas and proposals that the Nairobi summit must consider.
To restore the meeting on track and to advance an agenda of, by and for Africans, we call on you to:
- Withdraw the control and influence of Mckinsey in the organisation of this Summit. In exchange, an African-led expert group has to be established to help reshape the Summit’s agenda.
- Ensure the meeting advances Africa’s interests and priorities as promoted by African Governments and civil society in the UNFCCC.
- Adopt an integrated approach to Africa’s climate, energy and development issues. Without such an integrated African-led approach, concepts like “green growth” will simply further “neo-colonialism”.
- Advance a strong focus on renewable energy to counter efforts by the fossil fuel industry, Western interests, fossil fuel-producing African countries to hijack Africa’s just energy transition.
- Avoid all false solutions such as carbon markets and geo-engineering which are designed to encourage wealthy countries and people to continue polluting and turning Africa into a dumping ground and field for technological trials.
- Implement and adopt climate policies that promote a just and equitable phase-out of all new oil, gas and coal projects on the African continent in line with Africa’s development interests and the recommendations of IPCC, IEA and other scientific organisations by cutting public and private financing.
- Seek transparent and meaningful dialogue between citizens and policymakers across the continent to build a shared African narrative and agenda to tackle the interlinked challenges of climate, energy and development.
- Promote avenues that provide sufficient and consensual climate funding to realise this commitment.
African Heads of State and Governments
Chairperson of the African Union
Chairperson of the African Union Commission