The President of Kenya has come to the Paris climate summit "not to ask for help" from the rich countries, but to ensure that a reform of the global financial architecture enables developing countries to "take part in the solution," he said on Thursday.
"The current financial architecture is unfair, punitive and inequitable", said William Ruto.
"The countries of the South pay up to eight times more interest than developed countries because they are considered risky", said the Kenyan president, who wants to attract private investment rather than development aid.
"We are tired of this narrative" that portrays Africans as "victims of climate change", "looking for favors" and "lamenting", explains Mr. Ruto: "We are not asking for help, we want to be part of the solution".
To achieve this, he argues, the IMF and the World Bank need to be reformed, the debt management of developing countries needs to be rethought, and new fair taxes need to be created at international level (on shipping, air transport or financial transactions).
In Kenya, "we pay around 10 billion dollars every year to honor our debt," he says. If we were to use it instead for the country's development, it would be an immediate redirection of immense resources, and it would have an enormous impact" on the energy transition, health, electrification, etc. To achieve this, all we need to do is to "get the international community to take action".
To achieve this, all we need to do is "convert the money we were supposed to pay to the World Bank, the IMF and all the other lenders into a 50-year loan facility with a 20-year grace period," he explains.
"The world is burning"
Faced with the climate crisis, "we don't want the North to pay, we all want to pay", asserted Mr. Ruto at a time when unfulfilled promises by rich countries have broken trust with poor countries, bogging down climate negotiations.
"We want to repair this trust by avoiding the mutual blame game".
"While we continue to point the finger at each other, the world is burning", he emphasised, referring to humanity's delay in reducing its emissions to the level of the objectives of the Paris Agreement, due to a lack of investment to finance development away from fossil fuels.
"We don't want to say, 'it's the North's fault, they're the greenhouse gas emitters'. That's also true, but we don't want to go down that road" because "today we're all in the doldrums," he says.
Other African leaders, however, criticized the North's readiness to release billions for war-torn Ukraine. "This is nothing compared to the existential threat posed to the whole world by climate change", retorts William Ruto, who demands that we "put aside all other problems to tackle it together".