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Kenya wants to pioneer a new African approach to global warming

William Ruto drove himself to a curtain-raiser for the Africa Climate Summit in a small yellow electric car, flanked by bodyguards riding electric motorbikes. Mr Ruto, Kenya’s president, sees climate diplomacy as a way of burnishing his reputation in the West. But during the summit—the first dedicated to Africa’s response to the warming planet—the motorcades of visiting presidents had a more familiar look. While the politicians talked green inside the venue in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, outside were rows of petrol-guzzling suvs.

A gap between symbol and substance is common when it comes to Africa and climate change. Foreign politicians often nod to how the continent that has contributed least to warming the planet will be hurt the most. Africa, with 18% of the global population, is responsible for less than 4% of historic carbon-dioxide emissions, but has 16 of the 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change, according to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative, an American research project. Investors in carbon markets marvel at the Congo basin; renewable-energy types hail the potential of Africa’s sun, wind and rivers. Yet neither governments nor money men have matched rhetoric with resources. Meanwhile Africans worry that global efforts to combat climate change will come at the cost of their own economic development.

Source: The Economist



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