The U.S. government’s climate envoy, John Kerry at the first ever African Climate Summit on Tuesday said that the transition to cleaner energy cannot be reversed even by climate sceptic leaders.
"This transition is going to happen, in my judgment because the private sector gets involved in a much greater degree than today," he said on Tuesday, speaking at a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya's capital.
The first African Climate Summit opened on Monday with heads of state and others asserting a stronger voice on a worldwide issue that affects their continent the most even though its 1.3 billion people contribute to global warming the least.
Kerry said 17 of the world’s 20 countries most impacted by climate change are in Africa — while the world’s 20 richest nations, including his own, produce 80% of the world’s carbon emissions that are driving climate change.
Asked about the Kenyan president’s call for a carbon tax discussion, Kerry replied that President Joe Biden has "not yet embraced any particular carbon pricing mechanism."
Kenya's President William Ruto declared on Tuesday that it is time to have a global conversation about a carbon tax on polluters, adding that climate change is eating away at Africa’s economic progress.
The U.N. has estimated that loss and damage in Africa due to climate change are projected to be between $290 billion and $440 billion in the period from 2020 to 2030, depending on the degree of warming.
The summit’s opening speeches included clear calls to reform the global financial structures that have left African nations paying about five times more to borrow money than others, worsening the debt crisis for many.
Climate finance is key, speakers said, with richer nations’ promise of $100 billion a year in climate finance to developing countries still unfulfilled.