Africa: At Africa Summit, Advocates Push for Climate Justice, Economic Equity

Washington — Climate advocates have welcomed proposals by African leaders for a global carbon tax in a bid to tackle the impact of climate change in Africa.

Advocates also urged multinational corporations — those emitting carbon, such as oil companies and manufacturers — to avoid passing the tax burden to countries with less infrastructure.

Twenty heads of state and country representatives attended the first Africa Climate Summit, which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from Monday through Wednesday. The leaders demanded that major polluters pay low- and middle-income countries for the damage their emissions cause.

The declaration on climate also noted a 14-year-old, unfulfilled $100 billion annual financing pledge by developed countries to help developing nations reduce emissions and manage the impacts of climate change.

The leaders are expected to take the carbon-tax proposal to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai later this year.

Fati N’Zi Hassane, Africa director for Oxfam International, a U.K. charity focusing on eradicating global poverty, said that a global tax for carbon-emitting countries is worth exploring, but that measures are needed to ensure corporations do not increase their prices to make up for the taxes.

“This is the first time such a solution has been brought into such spaces, and such solutions have to be thought through very carefully — the discussion needs to be more inclusive,” she told VOA. “We feel that calling for such a solution is to make sure that polluters start paying, because this is what we have been calling for.”

N’Zi Hassane stressed the importance of considering populations severely impacted by the climate crisis, particularly women and children. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that 80% of people displaced by climate change worldwide are women.

“We need to be careful here because such measures [a global carbon tax] could affect the price of products and services, and at the end of the day, the people will pay the price,” she said.

N’Zi Hassane said Africa, which represents 17% of the global population and produces 4% of the global carbon emission, bears the unfair burden of the impact of climate change.

She said notable successes of the summit included consensus among the leaders for the proposed global carbon tax and discussions around calls for debt restructuring and relief for African countries, along with the development of a new global climate finance charter by 2025.