US’ Harris seeks billions for climate resilience in Africa
LUSAKA, Zambia: US Vice President Kamala Harris is pushing for US$7 billion in private-sector investments to help Africa prepare for the effects of climate change.
The announcement comes as she wraps up her weeklong trip to the continent on Saturday (Apr 1). Harris plans to visit a farm outside Lusaka where workers are using new techniques and technology to grow more produce, part of her effort to demonstrate ways to secure food supplies despite global warming.
“The United States is committed to these types of innovative solutions to support climate adaptation, mitigation and resilience,” she said Friday during a press conference with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema.
The US$7 billion announcement is the biggest-ticket item that Harris has unveiled during her trip, but more work will be needed to follow through.
For example, African Parks, a nonprofit group, has committed to raising US$1.25 billion over the next seven years in order to expand its conservation program. Another organisation, One Acre Fund, plans to raise US$100 million to plant a billion trees by the end of the decade.
The politics of climate change are complicated in Africa, which has contributed far less to overall greenhouse gas emissions than richer corners of the world like the United States. According to the International Energy Agency, 43 per cent of Africans didn’t have access to electricity in 2021, and recent outages have sparked frustration.
In Ghana, she was questioned at a press conference about how the West can demand that Africa go green and forgo using its natural resources. And she was pressed on whether wealthy nations would supply US$100 billion annually to help poor countries cope with climate change, a commitment made under the Paris climate accord.
Harris allowed that it is “critically important that, as global leaders, we all speak truth about the disparities that exist in terms of cause and effect and that we address those disparities”. And she said there were opportunities in the “clean energy economy” that could help generate growth in Africa.
As for the money, President Joe Biden has requested US$11 billion in his proposed budget to meet commitments in the Paris accord.
“We are waiting for Congress to do its work,” Harris said.