Tanzania urges EAC common stance on foreign carbon trading firms

Written by Vincent Owino

Published: November 28, 2023

Topic: COP28 | Featured

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Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu has asked the East African Community (EAC) heads of state to take a common stance in opposing the dominance of foreign companies in the region’s carbon trading business.

Speaking during the EAC high level forum on climate change and food security on the sidelines of the heads of state summit in Arusha on Thursday, Ms Suluhu said Africa is the “mother of the environment,” and should be at the forefront of conserving it.

“All our counterparts across the globe have already ruined their environment, but we’re still in a position to conserve our environment,” Ms Samia told the forum on Thursday, adding that over 53 percent of Tanzania is currently under conservation.

“So, here I’m requesting us to have one voice as East Africa as we go there (to COP28), that we’re going with a common position, that we’re the mother of the environment and we’re conserving it.

“So those conditions coming from our colleagues who want to use our environment for their benefit and not ours, especially through carbon trading programs, let’s have one position so that we find a way to conserve our environment. Not that we’re conserving, then foreign companies come to reap more than we’re reaping ourselves. No.”

But while expressing displeasure with the dominance of foreign companies in the region’s carbon trading business, President Suluhu said her government is implementing measures to improve the carbon industry in Tanzania, including through regulating it.

“We have already put in place regulations, which give the private sector the mandate to do carbon trading, but we’ve also come up with another regulation, as directed in the Paris agreement, that a government and another government can enter an agreement to do carbon trading, so the government and the private sector will be working together,” she said.

However, the regulations, which were enacted last year October, have been criticized by private sector investors in the carbon markets as being detrimental to investments in the sector. Many say they could both prevent new investments in the country’s carbon sinking projects and send packing those already there.

The rules establish a raft of taxes and fees amounting to nearly 19 percent, to be paid by developers of the carbon projects in the country, which have predominantly been foreign companies.

In an earlier interview with The EastAfrican, Kenn Essau, a principal at carbon projects advisory firm Ecodev Consultant, explained that the region’s carbon credits business is dominated by foreign companies because the projects normally require a large amount of initial capital, which locals usually can’t raise.

While speaking at the same forum, Kenya’s President William Ruto also revealed that his government is seeking to maximise earnings from carbon trading, which is the entire reason for the revitalised forest cover boosting and protection initiatives lately implemented.

“This will come along with carbon markets and carbon trading. The 15 billion trees is not just about planting trees, it’s about leveraging these trees to create financing for making sure that our interventions in managing our environment pays off financially,” Dr Ruto said at the forum.

This story was originally published by The EastAfrican, with the support of Climate Tracker’s COP28 Climate Justice Reporting Fellowship.

About the author of this article
Vincent Owino

Vincent is a business journalist with a passion for climate reporting. A trained economist and statistician, his reporting focusses on how human economic activities, technology, and government policies, intentionally and unintentionally impact our environment.