Why Uganda, South Africa and Nigeria skipped Africa Climate Summit

Friday September 08 2023
Africa Climate Summit

Delegates take a group photo at Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, Kenya during the Africa Climate Summit 2023 on September 4, 2023. PHOTO | NMG


When 14 African presidents jetted into Nairobi, Kenya this week for the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS), Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni was a no-show, as were South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nigeria's Bola Tinubu.

But why?

The Nation has learnt from three senior Kenyan foreign ministry officials that Uganda’s Museveni wrote to Kenya declining his invitation, stating categorically that he could not sit and be lectured by US climate envoy John Kerry, who hails from a Global North country that is among the world's biggest polluters.

As you may know, not all countries are equally responsible for the climate crisis.

According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), more than 30 gigatonnes of CO2 are released into the Earth's atmosphere every year: this is the main source of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, and most of these gases come from the use of fossil fuels, non-renewable energy production and polluting human activities.

Read: EU makes offer to Africa's climate change fight


The top ten polluters include China - 10,065 million tonnes of CO2, the United States - 5,416 million tonnes, India - 2,654 million tonnes, Russia - 1,711 million tonnes, Japan - 1,162 million tonnes, Germany - 759 million tonnes, Iran - 720 million tonnes, South Korea - 659 million tonnes, Saudi Arabia - 621 million tonnes and Indonesia - 615 million tonnes of CO2, while Africa, an entire continent, accounts for only four per cent of global carbon emissions, despite being the continent suffering the most devastating effects of the climate crisis.  

That is why, according to the 1992 Rio Declaration, now known as the polluter pays principle, those who cause pollution should bear the costs of dealing with it to prevent damage to human health or the environment, as the world agreed that the biggest polluters must take action to reduce their carbon emissions, but also to offset their carbon footprints by supporting environmental projects around the world.

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