Leaders at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi issued a unanimous call Wednesday for world leaders to support a global carbon tax on fossil fuels, aviation, and shipping, as well as financial and debt reforms and for major polluters to do more to pay for the damage they have inflicted upon developing nations. “No country should ever have to choose between development aspirations and climate action,” the declaration, adopted on the gathering’s final day, states. Adding, “Decarbonizing the global economy is also an opportunity to contribute to equality and shared prosperity.”

Despite being responsible for a marginal amount of historic climate pollution — especially relative to many of the colonial powers that extracted untold resources, human and otherwise, from the continent — African nations are among the worst-impacted by the climate crisis. Climate change is cutting Africa’s combined GDP by 5% to 15% every year, Kenyan President William Ruto told the attendees, including senior officials from the U.S., EU, and China. International financial systems force African nations to pay about five times more to borrow money than other countries, creating a vicious cycle of indebtedness and stifled development.

“Those who produce the garbage refuse to pay their bills,” Ruto said. The opening of the summit also saw hundreds of millions of dollars pledged toward the Africa Carbon Markets Initiative launched COP27 last year. Those pledges included a $450 million commitment from the UAE, which is working to safeguard its reputation ahead of hosting COP28 in December. “We reject forced solutions on our land,” Priscilla Achakpa, founder of the Women Environmental Programme, told summit participants. Achakpa called on the “Global North” to “remove yourself from the perspective of the colonial past.” (Carbon Tax: AP, New York Times $; Debt: AP; Pledges: Reuters, ABC; Additional coverage: Energy Monitor, Democracy Now)