Carbon tax a poisoned chalice

Ruto with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan

President William Ruto (left) greets his United Arab Emirates counterpart Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan ahead of their meeting on the sidelines of the COP28 climate talks in Dubai on Sunday, December 3. 

Photo credit: Courtesy | AFP

At the ongoing Conference of Parties (COP28), in Dubai, President William Ruto made a call for carbon tax. But I think the discussion should be about clean development mechanism (CDM).

The issue of greenhouse gases (GHG) did not start with COPs but almost three decades ago in Kyoto, Japan, where countries were classified according to their pollution levels.

The agreement in the Kyoto Protocol, adopted on December 11, 1997, was that the Annex 1 countries, who are the main polluters, would pay compensation to Annex 2 countries, where Africa falls, according to their pollution levels. It never happened, and the Kyoto Protocol was never ratified by the developed world—surprisingly, including the host.

The route of carbon credit should never be the avenue to climate change mitigation. The developed world will continue to pollute the earth. Taking huge delegations from one COP to another is not the solution for Africa. Delegates will talk, and in a very flowery language. That will, however, not end global warming. Africa is on its own, and it is high time it realised that.

President Ruto seems very committed to climate change. What, however, and with all due respect, he and his fellow African leaders don’t seem to see is the insincerity of the developed world and the Arab countries. That’s why holding COP28 in a major petroleum-producing country is ironical, if not insulting.

The wealthy nations will never let go of fossil fuels as they make them achieve industrial power. Africa should exploit its energy potential. It should explore its vast potential in hydro, solar and energy from waste in a bid to effect an industrial revolution that will shock the world. River Congo alone can feed the continent with hydro power.

The solution to climate change is 109 per cent adoptation of the clean green energy. And Africa has all it takes to get there. Policy—the right policies—should be the working words going forward.

- Mr Kigo is an environmentalist. [email protected].