Do African Activists Question Credibility of Climate Talks?

‘Lowest Moment’ for U.N.: Climate Activists Criticize Appointment of Oil Executive as Head of Climate Talks

Climate activists in Africa have expressed criticism toward the United Nations climate agency over their recent appointment of oil executive Sultan al-Jaber as head of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November. The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) termed it as the “lowest moment” for the U.N., while activists noted it as the “textbook definition of impunity and conflict of interest.”

Mithika Mwenda, PACJA’s executive director, called for al-Jaber to step down and feared the talks would be taken over “by vicious fossil companies whose ill-intentions are to derail the transition” to clean energy. Meanwhile, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry considered al-Jaber a “terrific choice” for understanding the need to move away from fossil fuels to clean energy.

In the wake of the U.N.’s climate body not commenting on the appointment, African climate activists have shifted their focus to other matters such as the lack of climate cash being delivered to the continent, criticism shed on industrialized nations for their fossil fuel investments in Africa, and increased fossil fuel subsidies. The International Monetary Fund reported that global subsidies for dirty fuels had reached $5.9 trillion in 2020, with fossil fuels investments in Africa from 2020 to 2022 jumping from $3.4 billion to $5.1 billion.

The International Energy Agency said that Africa’s renewable energy investments need to be doubled if it’s to meet its climate targets, as Africa holds 60 percent of the world’s solar resources with only 1 percent of global installed solar power capacity.

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