/ 4 September 2023

Creecy calls for non-debt solutions as hard-hit continent seeks climate finance

Africa Climate Summit 2023
Barbara Creecy, South Africa's environment, forestry and fisheries minister, attends the opening day of the Africa Climate Summit (ACS23) at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. Africa will seek to present itself as a solution to the global warming crisis in a declaration to be signed by heads of state on Sept. 6 at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit. (Fredrik Lerneryd/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Minister of forestry, fisheries and environment Barbara Creecy has called on African countries to develop a new financing model that will not increase debt and worsen Africa’s fiscal position.

Speaking at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday, Creecy said Africa needs a better climate financing option.

“African countries need a new suite of financing instruments, with a set of favourable terms and conditions that are not merely debt generators, or our efforts and actions of mobilising the trillions of dollars required for significantly scaled up climate action will be actions in futility,” she said.

The summit, which started on Monday, aims to drive green growth and climate finance solutions for the continent and the world.

Creecy reiterated calls by African ministers made last year at COP27 for multilateral development banks and international finance institutions, like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, to come up with innovative sources of finance and better debt reform.

The minister said before African countries head to COP28 at the end of November, they must put measures in place so that debt for Africa and other developing countries can be avoided. 

“Credit enhancement approaches are readily available to the private sector, but urgent reforms are needed in the public sector,” she said.

On Monday, Creecy noted that without fairer climate finance there will be more inequality globally, where Africa is severely impacted by climate change despite having a much lower carbon footprint than other continents.

According to the World Bank, Africa contributes 3.9% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. This is the smallest share among all the world’s regions, but the region remains severely impacted by climate-related weather.

“Developed countries have not met their mobilisation goal by 2020 and have indicated that this goal may potentially be met later this year. The goal of doubling adaptation finance from 2019 levels by 2025 is an undertaking on paper only,” Creecy said.

UN figures show that only 3% of global climate change financing goes to Africa. It added that between 2016 and 2019, this funding came out of a finance pool of around R345 billion.

Creecy criticised developed countries who have not met their pledges to double up on adaptation finance.

“Despite the clear provisions in the Paris Agreement that make the level of ambition by developed countries contingent on the support provided by developed countries, Africa continues to witness a decline in the delivery of public climate finance in real terms,” she said.

A report by Climate Initiative Africa showed that the continent needs an estimated $579.2 billion in adaptation finance over the period 2020–2030, but adaptation flows to the continent are five to 10 times lower than what’s needed.

The report added that with no improvements to vulnerability or adaptation, high emissions could see sub-Saharan Africa lose 12% of GDP by 2050 and 80% by 2100.

Creecy added that adaptation investments are essential to keep the global economy afloat. 

“If rich nations fail to invest in poorer countries, this will impact growth and supply chains, stability and security; in a globalised economy, no one escapes when extreme weather hits,” she said.

Mandisa Nyathi is a climate reporting fellow, funded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa.