‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja – Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has reiterated that the Debt-for-Climate Swap will help solve many of the debt burden challenges in Nigeria and other countries if it is widely accepted
DAILY COURIER reports that Prof. Osinbajo, in his meetings with the top officials of the US government right after his speech at the Centre for Global Development (CGD) on Thursday, had pushed the Debt-for-Climate (DFC) idea which he previously proposed publicly first at the CGD.
The Vice-president explained that; “Debt for climate swaps is a type of debt swap where bilateral or multilateral debt is forgiven by creditors in exchange for a commitment by the debtor to use the outstanding debt service payments for national climate action programs.
“Typically, the creditor country or institution agrees to forgive part of a debt, if the debtor country would pay the avoided debt service payment in a local currency into an escrow or any other transparent fund and the funds must then be used for agreed climate projects in the debtor country.”
The idea, described as fresh thinking in Washington DC by senior American government officials, is already receiving positive reviews even as VP Osinbajo explained the potential for significant debt cancellation for African countries.
“The proposed Debt-for-Climate swaps would be a very useful intervention and helpful as it will reduce debt burdens,” while advancing the Climate Change objectives of the international community, Spokesman for the Vice President, Laolu Akande, quoted Osinbajo as having said in a release on Sunday.
Akande said that the Vice President described the idea as a Climate Change related financing instrument deserving of global consideration as it is a win-win proposal.
According to Akande, Prof. Osinbajo also pushed the idea of opening up the Carbon Market in Africa so that the Climate Change actions of African countries can be adequately verified by the international community through the assessments of the appropriate verification institutions.
“We are hoping to get support and international buy-ins for these ideas, specifically the DFC and the participation of African countries in the international carbon market”, Osinbajo said.
Responding to the Debt-for-Climate proposal, the Administrator of USAID told the Vice President that the idea is “Fresh thinking that is very exciting”, adding that the US is open to such new thinking even though it would require the full policy review of the American Government.
Experts say under the DFC, sovereign debtors and international creditors will forgive all or a portion of external debt often running into billions in a country like Nigeria, in exchange for a commitment by the country to invest in domestic currency, in specific climate or energy transition projects during a commonly agreed period.
The expectation is that Debt-For-Climate swaps will reduce the level of indebtedness and free up fiscal resources to be invested in clean energy projects in Nigeria and other countries signed up for the programme once accepted by creditor-nations.
Justifying the rationale behind such a debt swap deal, the Vice President submitted that the commitment to it would “Increase the fiscal space for climate-related investments and reduce the debt burden for participating developing countries.”
Similarly, Osinbajo in his speech at the CGD, also proposed a significant addition to conventional capital flows both from public and private sources to Africa through greater participation in the global carbon finance market.
“Currently, direct carbon pricing systems through carbon taxes have largely been concentrated in high and middle-income countries. However, carbon markets can play a significant role in catalyzing sustainable energy deployment by directing private capital into climate action, improving global energy security, providing diversified incentive structures, especially in developing countries and providing an impetus for clean energy markets when the price economics looks less compelling – as is the case today.”
He encouraged developed countries to support “Africa to develop into a global supplier of carbon credits, ranging from bio-diversity to energy-based credits,” which would be a leap forward in aligning carbon pricing and related policy around achieving a just transition.
While in Washington DC, Vice-president, Osinbajo, met with his American counterpart, Kamala Harris at the White House, the US Secretary of the Treasury, Ms. Janet Yellen, and the USAID Administrator Samantha Power. He also held an interactive session with a group of Nigerian staff members of the World Bank and the IMF, before he spoke at the Centre for Global Development.