President Ruto Tells Rich Nations to Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is, By Making Pledges and Commitments Count

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Nation Africa
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
President Ruto Tells Rich Nations to Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is, By Making Pledges and Commitments Count

President says he is concerned that the climate-related economic crises are squeezing a lot from poor countries and leaving them with nothing to invest in development projects, and notes that the ensuing injury, loss, and damage extends beyond immense human toil, to the destruction of vital infrastructure and disruption of critical supply chains.

President William Ruto has joined other world leaders in calling on the high-income nations to make the COP28 Climate Finance and Energy transition pledges and commitments count, and now wants the level of ambition and action put in by the world leaders to be commensurate with the commitment towards the realization of perceivable and resolute outcomes.

Speaking in Dubai, the President noted that a tendency to ignore Africa’s development and industrialization.

needs and the failure to invest in the continent’s burgeoning younger generation is no longer a tenable proposition, and warned that “we cannot afford to neglect the immense potential or ignore the pressing needs of a continent on the cusp of transformative growth”.

The President said he was concerned that the climate-related economic crises were squeezing a lot from the poor countries, leaving them with nothing to invest in development projects. He held that ensuing injury, loss, and damage extends beyond immense human toil, to the destruction of vital infrastructure and disruption of critical supply chains.

Also, he added, the damage and loss fund should go beyond logistical challenges as the complex nature of climate crises exacerbated the daily struggle for survival for many households and communities.

He asserted that the Nairobi Declaration adopted during the Africa Climate Summit in September 2023 was a groundbreaking pronouncement by the African leaders in setting out their vision and commitment to, and pathways for the continents towards being a vital part of the global solutions to the climate-related crises.

His call comes a day after the announcement by the COP28 presidency regarding the pledge of $430 billion Damage and Loss Compensation Fund aimed at cushioning low-income countries against climate-related risks.

Loss and damage refer to the negative consequences that arise from the unavoidable risks of climate change, like the sea level, prolonged heat waves, desertification, the acidification of the sea, and other extreme weather events such as bushfires, species extinction, and crop failures.

Apart from the Damage and Loss Fund, Climate Adaptation other traditional financing instruments can be utilized to boost the loss and damage such as Social Protection, contingency finance among others. President Ruto further called for developed countries to produce credible delivery mechanisms for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2022 Adaptation Gap Report indicated that international adaptation finance flows to developing countries are five to 10 times below the estimated needs and the expectation was likely to grow to over USD 300 billion per year by 2030. Dr Ruto now wants COP28 to deliver on actionable energy transition, goals, and incentives in alignment with the Paris Agreement of maintaining global temperatures within 1.5 degrees Celsius.

According to the UNEP’s report, African countries that only contribute so minimally to the greenhouse gas emissions are forced to spend at least five times more on adapting to the climate crises as compared to what is spent on healthcare. Dr Ruto also mentioned the transition from fossil fuel energy, which has been considered a contentious thematic concern of the COP28. In his speech, he said he was concerned that Africa had continued to receive only two per cent of the three trillion dollars invested globally in renewable energy despite Africa’s massive potentiality and huge gaps in green energy.

“Turning Africa into a green powerhouse is not just essential for the continent, it is also vital for global industrial decarbonization,” he asserted.

His sentiments were echoed by other leaders, including King Charles of the UK, who warned that the world was dreadfully far off track in delivering sustainable climate goals. King Charles was concerned that the world was at a crossroads now than ever before due to the climate-related crises.

On the summit sidelines, The African Development Bank (AfDB) reported that Africa needs 160 gigawatts of extra capacity by 2025. The continent only generates 30 gigawatts of renewable energy despite having the potential to power its growth by using renewable grids such as solar rather than running on gas and fuel.

The operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund by COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber has been lauded by many as a historic move towards making COP climate summits a credible and reliable global climate action tool. However, some activists have cast doubt on the authenticity of the lofty promises made by the COP28 presidency during the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund. Some have argued that the UAE was good at crafting marketing messaging yet the pledges dangled to low-income nations could simply be a way of diverting the attention of critics who have accused Mr. Al-Jaber for holding commercial interests by virtue of being the head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. He was also accused of using his position to advance business deals with western leaders.

Women’s Environment and Development Organization Secretary-General Bridget Burns, poked holes in the recent Loss and Damage announcements, saying that it would only make sense if there was a sense of urgency in the honoring of the pledges made by the high-income countries. She further called for a legally binding framework and guidelines that could make the Global North commit to the war against climate change impact, adding that COP summits risked ending up becoming laughing stocks, therefore, there was a need for well-established guidelines towards renewables and other climate finance policies to make all the pledges and commitments a reality.


This story was produced as part of the 2023 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security. It was first published by Nation Media Group on 4 December 2023 and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: A man speaking / Credit: Jacob Walter.

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