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African Nations Rally Behind Global Carbon Levy on Shipping

A coalition of 20 African nations has thrown their support behind the Nairobi Declaration, a significant move advocating for the implementation of a global carbon levy on shipping. The Nairobi Declaration was officially adopted during the recent Africa Climate Summit held in Nairobi, emphasizing the importance of new global taxes to finance climate change action and adaptation efforts.

The Nairobi Declaration underscores the critical need for climate financing and sustainability measures. It specifically urges world leaders to unite behind the proposal for a “global carbon taxation regime,” which includes a carbon tax applied to fossil fuel trade, maritime transport, and aviation.

Furthermore, the declaration suggests the potential addition of a global financial transaction tax (FTT) to facilitate affordable and accessible financing for climate-positive investments on a worldwide scale while ensuring the protection of these resources from undue geopolitical and national interests.

In addition to Kenya, the host country, the signatories of the Nairobi Declaration comprise Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Brazzaville), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Libya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sahrawi, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Tanzania.

Ana Laranjeira, a representative from Opportunity Green, a UK charity dedicated to addressing climate change through legal, economic, and policy initiatives, expressed strong support, saying, “The International Maritime Organization can no longer ignore this loud call for action. The IMO must urgently adopt a maritime fuel standard alongside a universal greenhouse gas levy to effectively phase out shipping emissions in a just and equitable way, as called for by a growing number of its most ambitious Member States.”

Laranjeira added, “Doing so would not only expedite the global transition to zero emissions but also generate revenues for large-scale financing for climate-related investments in countries most in need of these funds.”

This surge of support from African nations at the Africa Climate Summit follows several significant endorsements for a global carbon levy on shipping. Earlier this year, 55 Climate Vulnerable Forum countries expressed their support for the shipping levy as part of the CVF Dhaka-Glasgow Declaration, launched at the COP26 climate summit in November 2021.

Furthermore, 22 countries, along with the European Commission, endorsed the levy at the Paris summit in June 2023, including Greece, the world’s largest ship-owning country in the previous year, and South Korea, one of the top three biggest shipbuilding countries globally.

Even before the Nairobi Declaration, seven African countries, including Angola, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, and Sierra Leone, had already called for a global shipping levy during the IMO’s technical working group talks in June 2023 (ISWG-GHG-15).

On the international stage, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have committed to a shipping levy, aligning with the growing global consensus. Meanwhile, India expressed support for an “economic measure” during the IMO meeting (ISWG-GHG-15) in June 2023, further highlighting the momentum behind the carbon levy on shipping.

The Africa Climate Summit has resulted in announcements and commitments worth USD 26 billion in investments from public and private sectors, multilateral development banks, philanthropic foundations, and other partners.

The summit has paved the way for the establishment of the Accelerated Partnership for Renewables in Africa (APRA), in which African countries with a strong renewables agenda, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe, are forming a partnership to accelerate renewables on the continent and promote green industrialization. The partnership receives support from Denmark, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates.

Additionally, the summit has given rise to the creation of the African Heads of State Panel for the Development of a Regenerative Blue Economy and the implementation of the Great Blue Wall Initiative. This initiative aims to mobilize at least USD 15 billion by 2030, leading to the conservation of 2 million km2 of ocean, restoration of 2 million hectares of critical blue ecosystems, and the sequestration of 100 million t of CO2, while also creating 2 million blue jobs, benefiting at least 70 million people.

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