Huang said China will launch an Africa Solar Belt programme as part of the South-South cooperation on climate change to advance 100 million yuan (US$13.7 million) for solar projects in regions not served by main power grids, helping around 50,000 families.
“The project will help African countries to develop and utilise solar energy to address power shortage and transition to green and low carbon development,” Huang told the Nairobi summit on Tuesday.
Huang said China was also boosting early warning systems by providing multiple countries with satellite facilities. “China fully understands the concerns and supports African countries with regards to climate change adaptation efforts,” he said.
Kerry also addressed the summit on Tuesday, observing that 17 of the 20 countries most affected by the climate crisis are in Africa.
Announcing the additional food security investment, Kerry said President Joe Biden was committed to working with Congress to provide US$3 billion annually or adaptation by 2024 – “the largest commitment in US history”.
Biden’s Prepare programme – short for the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience – aims to help half a billion people in developing countries, especially Africa, adapt to the worst impacts of the climate crisis this decade, Kerry said.
Speaking to Agence France-Presse news agency, Kerry said he hoped the US and China “could come together” to help fight against global warming.
“I do hope that China and the United States, the two largest economies in the world, the two largest emitters in the world, I hope we could come together,” he said.
“Our hope is that climate will be recognised for what it is. It is not a bilateral [issue] … It is a universal threat to the planet.”
Despite the size of its economy, China considers itself a developing nation and Huang called on developed countries, including the US and Europe, to fulfil their commitments to provide at least US$100 billion each year in climate finance.
The operation of the global loss and damage fund needs to be accelerated and provide help for developing countries to deal with the effects of climate change, he said.
Huang said China had not been spared the effects of the changing climate, with heatwaves and floods recently hitting many parts of the country. “We are increasingly concerned about the uncertainty of climate change.”
Huang said 2020’s extreme heat events, high temperatures and drought risk indices had made it the worst year on record since 1961, while the average rainfall was the lowest in six decades.
Extreme weather events and drought had damaged 12 million hectares of crops, with a direct economic loss of 214.75 billion yuan (US$29.3 billion), while heavy rains and floods brought by the remnants of Typhoon Doksuri had also caused significant loss of life and property in the northern province of Hebei, he said.
Huang said China is responding to the threats, issuing the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2035 last year and promoting the development of provincial-level action plans, with an estimated two-thirds expected to be completed and implemented by the end of this year.
In addition, eight government departments have jointly completed 10 major tasks to help Chinese urban areas adapt, with a pilot programme launched last week to build more climate-adaptive cities, he said.
In Africa, China has now signed memorandums of understanding on climate cooperation with 15 countries, as of August 2023, Huang told the summit.
A joint declaration to work together in combating climate change was launched in 2021 at the 8th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) ministerial conference, with agreements to cooperate on clean energy and other measures.
These included the use of aerospace technology in addressing climate issues, agriculture, forestry, low-carbon infrastructure construction, meteorological monitoring and forecasting, and disaster mitigation.
China Exim Bank funded construction of a 15- megawatt solar power plant in Kenya’s semi-arid Garissa region, providing power for more than 380,000 people. A similar Chinese-funded project in the Central African Republic capital Bangui is powering factories, schools and homes.
China’s switch to a focus on solar power plants and other green projects in Africa has followed growing criticism that its financing and building of ports, railways and power dams had harmed the environment.
A report last month from Fudan University’s Green Finance and Development Centre signalled significant room for improvement in China’s green development funding.
The study found some Chinese-built or financed projects in Egypt, Nigeria and Ethiopia did not meet China’s recommended ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) guidance.
“Much is talked about the role of China in financing and building infrastructure. But so far little was known about application of ESG standards when actually implementing the projects,” said co-author and the centre’s director Christoph Nedopil Wang.
“We believe that local partners in host countries, as well as financial institutions, should drive ESG standard application with a clear benefit to lower project risks in the short and longer term,” he said.
African leaders concluded the summit with a declaration that Africa is not historically responsible for global warming but bears the brunt of its effects, with impacts on lives, livelihoods and economies.
The Nairobi Declaration calls on wealthy nations to act with urgency in reducing emissions, fulfilling their obligations, keeping past promises, and supporting the continent in addressing climate change.
The leaders said rich nations should honour their commitment to provide US$100 billion in annual climate finance, promised 14 years ago at the Copenhagen conference.