ROTTERDAM – African leaders on Monday criticized the lack of Western counterparts at a climate summit in Rotterdam where they called for funds to help their countries adapt to global warming.
Senegalese President and African Union chief Macky Sall and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi said the rich countries responsible for most carbon emissions should have been there.
They were speaking at the Africa Adaptation Summit in the Dutch port city, which takes place two months before the crucial COP27 climate conference in Egypt in November.
“I can’t help but note, with a hint of bitterness, the absence of the leaders of the industrialized world,” Sall said at the opening of the event.
“Because they are the main polluters of our planet and they should fund adaptation.”
The Senegalese leader added that “not only is the fate of Africa at stake, but the fate of humanity and the future of the planet”.
Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo also had harsh words for Western leaders, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte the only one to appear in person for the summit.
“I regret the absence of leaders from the developed world and the private sector, who are known to be the biggest polluters,” Tshisekedi said.
“The African continent has the least impact on climate change but, paradoxically, suffers most of its consequences,” he said.
The African continent is only responsible for around 3% of global CO2 emissions, added former UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
“We have a moral duty” to help African countries adapt, he said.
The summit, which for the first time focuses on helping Africa adapt to the impacts of climate change, brings together the African Union, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Global Center on Adaptation based in the Nederlands.
They hope to raise about $250 million in capital commitments to attract investors for adaptation programs.
“We need to raise $250m, that’s not a lot to ask,” said Senegalese Sall.
Dutch Prime Minister Rutte admitted in his closing speech that the attendance of non-African leaders had been disappointing.
“I know a lot of people wanted to come, but I just think the number of visitors wasn’t at the level we would have liked,” Rutte said.
The international community must “think about how we can have as many leaders as possible in the future” at future COP conferences and other climate meetings, he said.
African nations agreed at a summit in Gabon last week on a joint effort to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – a goal scientists fear will become increasingly difficult to achieve – during the next UN climate negotiations.
This meeting and the Rotterdam meeting are part of a series of regional meetings ahead of COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh from 6-18 November.
- Editor/ additional report by AFP