African nations back carbon levy on shipping

A coalition of 20 African nations has thrown their weight behind the Nairobi Declaration, advocating for a global carbon levy on shipping. The declaration was adopted at the Africa Climate Summit held in Nairobi last week, and it calls for new global taxes to fund climate change action and adaptation efforts.

Shipping/Illustration; Image by Offshore Energy

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

Additionally, it suggests the possibility of augmenting this tax with a global financial transaction tax (FTT) to facilitate affordable and accessible financing for climate-positive investments on a global scale while ensuring the safeguarding of these resources from undue geopolitical and national interests.

In addition to the host country Kenya, the signatories of the Nairobi Declaration are 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.

“We are fully behind the signatories of the Nairobi Declaration. 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,” said Ana Laranjeira, a representative from Opportunity Green, a UK-charity leveraging legal, economic and policy knowledge to tackle climate change.

“Doing so would not only speed up 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 wave of support from African nations at the Africa Climate Summit comes on the heels of several significant endorsements for a global carbon levy on shipping.

Earlier this year, 55 Climate Vulnerable Forum countries, spanning Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East, and the Pacific, 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. Notable among these supporters were 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 emphasizing 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, private sector, and multilateral development banks, philanthropic foundations, and other partners.

The summit has been the launching pad for the establishment of the Accelerated Partnership for Renewables in Africa (APRA) under which African countries with high renewables agenda, namely, Kenya, Ethiopia, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, are forming a partnership to accelerate renewables on the continent and pursue green industrialization. The partnership is supported by Denmark, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates.

In addition, the summit has resulted in 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, aiming to mobilise at least USD 15 Billion by 2030, which would lead to conservation of 2 million km2 of ocean and conservation and restoration of 2 million hectares of critical blue ecosystems.
and will enable the sequestration of 100M t of CO2.

The initiative is expected to create 2 million blue jobs, benefitting at least 70 million people.