Ruto calls out West for skewed financing in the war on pollution

H.E. President William Ruto attending and addressing the Opening Ceremony of the Ordinary Session of The African Union (A.U)

President William Ruto has accused the West and the Bretton Woods institutions of skewed financing that has exacerbated the effects of climate change in Africa by rewarding polluters and punishing those with the least emissions.

Ruto warned the financial institutions to make the playing field level as they were not helping to combat the financial crisis.

He explained that Africa does not want a system that favours her but one that is fair and accountable.

Speaking when he chaired the Committee of African Heads of State and Governments on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), Ruto noted that countries with the least emissions are being punished the most.

"As it stands today the financial setup favours the Global North as opposed to the Global South which includes Africa.

"Today, Kenya and African countries access development finances at 10 per cent while the Global North gets it at 0.05 to 0.1 per cent. We are getting the funds at 100 per cent more expensive rates than our other colleagues at the North," he said.

The President said the current financial situation was rigged for those in the West and called for change of the financial system.

"The current financial set-up today favours the emitters; those who pollute get away with it, they get development finance cheaper than we do. While those of us who do not emit, are being punished for not polluting, we are paying an arm and a leg for not being emitters, its costs us 100 times more, than our compatriots in the Global North," he said.

Ruto said the world needs a system that is accountable and allows the emitters to pay more while those who do not pollute pay less.

"We need a new system that understands and hold to account those who have brought us here. Africa is not asking for favours," he said.

The President noted that the present set-up of the global economic and financial system is inequitable and inadequate in the face of the challenges confronting us.

"An overhaul of the financial system is therefore imperative to connect climate action and development finance, to fund the creation of resilient jobs, design more secure instruments to unlock funding for post-disaster reconstruction, and establish better risk-sharing practices," said the President.

It is scientifically proven Ruto said, that the drought situation in Kenya and other parts of Africa was because of climate change which had affected the lives of six million people and killed eight million wildlife.

He regretted that the world's youngest and least polluting continent is also the poorest and most adversely affected by the ever-worsening climate change yet the climate agenda had become an empty ritual, and climate action, that was nothing but a hollow expression of optimism.

In order to radically change the course of events from a headlong rush to the precipice, Ruto said, the African leaders must commit, that CAHOSCC deliberations about the continent are action-oriented, cognisant of the existential magnitude of what was at stake, and animated by a strong sense of urgency.

He noted that there was progress in combating climate change and the world was entering a new industrial age of clean energy technology and clean, green manufacturing. Last year, the European Union, through its climate policy, approved a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel passenger cars by 2035.

Electric cars

He observed that electric car sales had reached 79 per cent in Norway, 28 per cent in the EU and more than 25 per cent in China with several governments at COP27, having launched a coalition to drive a global transition to zero-emission vehicles by 2040, while 80 countries supported the phasing down of fossil fuel, in addition to the phasing down of coal, which had been agreed upon in COP26.

"As matters stand now, it appears that the good news, of progress in innovation, adaptation, and resilience, are concentrated in one side of the world: the wealthy industrialised side, while the bad news, of worsening vulnerability, increasing ferocity of climate disasters, collapsing resilience, deepening poverty, minimal innovation and adaptation are concentrated on the other side: the poor, underdeveloped, heavily indebted side," he said.

"Global inequality is perpetuating itself in the climate crisis," he added.

Africa's contradictions and paradoxes, Ruto said, must be reconciled in order to chart a path that will take us out of our present challenges.

"The world's least polluting continent by far, bears the heaviest burden, of the adverse impacts of climate change, creating the appearance that we are being punished for not polluting," he said.

Ruto observed that the most abundantly endowed continent in terms of natural resources, including those used to generate clean energy, also has the lowest energy production and access globally, and is home to some of the world's poorest people and most indebted countries.

Climate change

State House spokesman Hussein Mohamed said the side committee meeting was to take stock of the state of climate change and its impacts, possibilities with regard to effective climate action, recent developments, both positive and adverse, in the context of COP27 and events planned, expected or projected to occur in the course of the year.

Hussein said that at the COP27 they took opportunity to strike consensus and make progress in advancing a uniquely African perspective, to the global discourse on climate change and climate action.

"As a champion for climate action, President Ruto advocated for Africa's potential to lead the world and demonstrate that the continent can industrialize, thrive, and prosper - in a low carbon and sustainable manner," said Hussein.

He noted that as the CAHOSCC Chair, President Ruto moderated a meeting to review the outcomes and implications of last year's COP27 for Africa, and chart the way forward for the key global events setting the milestones for climate action and reform of the international financial architecture in 2023.

Hussein said the President, in keeping with his pledge to advance opportunities in green industrialisation, as well as the Green Agenda for Africa, will convene a Climate Action Summit in Nairobi, from September 4 to 6.

Ruto urged Africa to stand up and liberate the people from the shackles of poverty, disease and insecurity by asserting the right to develop.

"As Africans, we have consistently demonstrated that climate change, poverty, conflict, and insecurity are all tightly connected. For Africa, therefore, climate action, economic growth, peace, and security are not just related, they are merely three dimensions of the same phenomenon," he said. He called on the African Heads of State and government to become more assertive, pursue the climate agenda through this unified approach and transform the insights arising out of COP27 into concrete actions, to avert a looming disaster and return the continent to the path of prosperity.

Global leaders

President Ruto told the AU leaders that Kenya had emerged among global leaders in clean power generation, which now makes up 92 per cent of the national grid and was committed to attaining a 100 per cent clean grid by 2030.

"It is our intention to proceed beyond greening our grid, to export green energy directly, and also indirectly through green manufacturing. I am aware that several African countries have embarked on a similar developmental trajectory, which has made them attractive to private sector investment in clean transport, sustainable agriculture, green building and urbanisation, and other enterprises," he said.