Press Releases Speech by President von der Leyen at the Africa Climate Summit

Speech by President von der Leyen at the Africa Climate Summit

Thank you, dear President Ruto, for hosting this African Summit and for your leadership on climate action ever since you took office. In this regard, I welcome Kenya’s ‘Climate Change Act 2023′ that was launched during this Summit and that puts strong emphasis on carbon markets. We fully support you on this important topic.

Presidents and Prime Ministers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear colleagues,

I am deeply honoured to participate in this discussion. This Summit is a crucial step to prepare the upcoming COP28 meeting in Dubai, to make sure that Africa’s voice is heard and that Africa’s priorities – a continent that is most affected by climate change – are duly taken on board. Today I am here not only to listen to you but also to bring Europe’s offer to be your ally at COP28, and to work together on all issues on the agenda. Because however different our two continents may look, we share the very same interests when it comes to climate action. We hear you, dear President Ruto and dear friends, when you say that Africa’s first priority is to grow your economy and lift as many people as possible out of poverty. And yes, climate action is part of the solution. You are part of the solution: With your huge potential for renewable energy and clean hydrogen, your critical raw materials, your incredible nature and biodiversity, and your young workforce, you can help clean up the global energy system and supply chains, while creating the good jobs and economic opportunities that your people demand. This is a win-win partnership with benefits for Africa, for Europe and the world. For instance, the benefits of expanding Africa’s clean energy sector would be massive. By speeding up the transition to solar and wind power, energy sector jobs in Africa could double by 2030. And Africa could produce enough clean energy not only to power up your continent but to export abroad. Climate action can be one of the main drivers of Africa’s growth.

But for this, Africa needs massive investment. And Europe wants to be your partner in closing this investment gap. This is why half of our EUR 300 billion investment plan, called Global Gateway, is aimed at the African continent. Global Gateway supports investments ranging from hydropower plants in the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania, to the EUR 1 billion Initiative on Climate Adaptation and Resilience in Africa, which we announced at COP27. And Global Gateway is unique in the global investment landscape. We are not only interested in extracting resources. We want to partner with you to create local value chains in Africa. We want to share European technology with you. We want to invest in skills for local workers. Because the stronger you are as suppliers, the more Europe will diversify supply chains towards Africa, and the more we will de-risk our economies. Namibia, for instance, is now building a new hydrogen industry, as well as a raw materials value chain, in partnership with Europe. And, later this morning, President Ruto and I will conclude a new Hydrogen Partnership between Kenya and the EU with the objective to further develop the green hydrogen economy, and with the full support of Team Europe. This is good news for Africa and Europe alike.

Yet public money from major economies, however crucial, is not enough. This is why we need to bring the conversation on climate financing to the global stage, at COP28. Let me briefly share three specific points that will be discussed here in Nairobi to pave the way towards COP28. First, on attracting private investment to Africa. Second, on carbon pricing. And third, on setting global targets for the energy transition.

On the first point: The green transition will require an unprecedented scale of investment. Public finance will not suffice. That is true for Europe, but that is also true for emerging markets and developing economies. Private capital will need to be mobilised at scale. And here, green bonds are widely recognised as providing part of the solution. This is why we just put forward a new proposal to attract private investment. It is called the Global Green Bond Initiative. We know that emerging economies can face hurdles in accessing capital markets. But we can change that. Europe has the biggest and most advanced green bond market in the world. We are ready to share our expertise with your teams on how to develop your own green bond markets. And at the same time, we will push on the investors’ side. Together with the European Investment Bank and our Member States, we are allocating EUR 1 billion to de-risk private investments in emerging markets. This could help attract up to EUR 20 billion in sustainable investment. So let us work together to build and grow Africa’s green bond markets. And let us bring together this crucial point to COP28.

There is another solution that would unlock huge resources for climate action in Africa. It is carbon pricing – and this is my second point. I believe – as you do, President Ruto – that setting a price on carbon emissions is one of the most efficient and effective tools in our hands. Because it fosters innovation by the private sector. Because it makes heavy polluters pay a fair price. And because the revenues can support the clean transition in developing countries. We will discuss this in more detail in the next session. Let us work together and bring a proposal for global carbon pricing at COP28.

Finally, on global energy goals. If we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we have to speed up the global energy transition. That means: We need to triple renewable energy capacity and we need to double energy efficiency by 2030. And this is doable. If we step up global investments in renewables, this would make clean energy more affordable for all countries, including here in Africa. That is why COP28 President, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, and I champion global targets for the energy transition to be achieved collectively. Global goals will provide a benchmark to track progress and attract even more private investments. So I look forward to working with you on this. And I hope that Africa and Europe join forces to reach a global agreement at COP28.

Ladies and Gentlemen,


These three proposals may look bold. They may even look impossible to achieve. But in the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘it always seems impossible until it is done’. We have the responsibility to fight climate change for the good of our children and grandchildren. Let us work together in this spirit.

Thank you very much.

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