Africa Climate Summit – Carbon Markets Scheme Criticised

A new report has dismissed Africa’s carbon markets scheme as a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’. The carbon market is one of the topics being discussed at the African Climate Summit currently taking place in Nairobi, Kenya. This market enables “climate polluters” to fund projects that reduce carbon emissions in other countries, and they can then include these emissions reductions in their own climate targets while still emitting greenhouse gases.

A carbon credit is a kind of permit that represents one tonne of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere.

As the Summit gets underway in Nairobi, a new report by climate think tank Power Shift Africa and partners details the dangers of carbon credits and why African leaders must avoid falling into the trap of adopting them on the continent.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were pledged on Monday, including $450 million by the UAE Carbon Alliance, to boost Africa’s carbon credit production 19-fold by 2030.

Others who committed money for carbon projects are Britain ($62 million), Germany ($65 million), and Climate Asset Management ($200 million).

The African Carbon Market Initiative (ACMI) is the latest carbon credit scheme being pushed by a motley crew of politicians, businesses, and philanthropists, with claims that it will be the silver bullet that fixes Africa’s climate distress.

The report by African climate experts, however, shows that the initiative is riddled with deficiencies and inconsistencies and will only fling open the floodgates of pollution.

Backed by scientific evidence and expert analysis, the report instead proposes several climate action alternatives to the leaders to ensure real action to tackle the climate crisis.

The flawed theory behind a carbon market, the report argues, is that part of the money paid by the corporations for these carbon credits, which authors dismiss as “permits to pollute”, would go towards development projects in Africa that avoid or reduce emissions.

Authors of the report, however, note that the reality is that polluting companies in rich countries buy dodgy pollution permits instead of cutting their emissions.

Report author Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, said: “For rich polluters, this is a silver bullet and a painkiller that allows them to keep pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But for Africa, they are a placebo drug that ends up making the pain of climate change far worse.”

Mohamed added, “Africa has so much potential to lead the response to the climate crisis caused by rich nations. We have an abundance of clean renewable resources, we have some visionary leaders, and we have a youthful population, who will benefit from climate-friendly development. The carbon market initiative is a solution to someone else’s problem, repackaged – once again – to fool us. There are real solutions out there and we need to embrace them.”

The report warns that if the African Carbon Market Initiative met its claimed ambition, private companies would be at liberty to emit up to 2.5 billion tonnes of additional carbon per year by 2050 in exchange for their purchased pollution permits.

This will drive pollution beyond the limits the climate and our planet can tolerate.

The report highlights that instead of falling for the claims of the carbon credit pushers, African leaders should take control of the deliberations about how to finance the continent’s decisive response to the climate crisis.

Rwandan civil societies propose new funding mechanism

Faustin Vuningoma, the Coordinator at Rwanda Climate Change and Development Network (RCCDN) comprising over 75 civil society organisations dealing with climate change in Rwanda told The New Times: “Carbon credits are nothing good for Africa. It is another scam. The alternative is developed countries enhancing their ambitions in greenhouse gas emissions reduction, as well as financing adaptation for developing nations.”

The report also proposed a new ‘polluter pays’ funding mechanism, where polluting businesses channel money towards climate mitigation and adaptation in an environment where Africa defines its own needs.

The amount they pay would increase over time to incentivise companies to stay within the limits of the Paris Agreement. The money would also boost Africa’s capacity for clean, resilient, and affordable development led by local communities.

Crucially, it would eliminate market brokers and middlemen and maximise money disbursed to projects, shows the report.

Tasneem Essop, Executive Director of Climate Action Network, stated: “Carbon markets are designed to shift power away from local communities and governments and hand it to self-serving global elites. These elites are not only responsible for triggering and fuelling the climate catastrophe through emissions but are also out of touch with the reality of anguish by these communities. This fuels neo-colonialism and African leadership must reject overtures such as carbon markets that they are sneaking into Africa as solutions to the climate crisis.”

“The carbon market initiative in Africa is another distraction that will not cut emissions at source but support further extraction of fossil fuels. We must reject any initiative that has no focus on attaining 100% renewable energy in the African continent,” added Maimoni Mariere Ubrei-Joe, Coordinator of the Climate Justice and Energy Program at Friends of the Earth Africa.

The reactions about the carbon market came at a time when some countries, including Rwanda, were preparing to debut on the carbon market.

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