As the world convenes in Glasgow for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26), it is time to recognize Africa’s role in averting a climate disaster without compromising the continent’s growth and poverty reduction. The world needs to change away from fossil fuels. But access to electricity is a human right as enshrined in sustainable development goal 7. Electric strength is vital for any economy to improvement, and relegating African countries to greater poverty is not the solution to the global climate crisis.
The world must change away from the fuels that powered industrialization in Europe, the U.S., and Asia. Today, coal nevertheless accounts for up to 38 percent of electricity generation worldwide, with China, India, the U.S., and the EU remaining the world’s largest consumers of coal. At the same time, international financing institutions are restricting investment in electric strength projects in Africa to wind and solar on grounds of environmental concerns. Africa’s current energy need is estimated at 700 TW, which is 4,000 times the 175 GW of wind and solar capacity the complete world additional in 2020. Africa cannot industrialize on wind and solar energy alone.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 12 million new people go into the workforce every year. They cannot run successful businesses in the dark. Today, nearly 600 million Africans without access to electric strength, a number that the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects will truly increase by 30 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To create jobs for Africa’s thriving youth population, we need to find ways to strength the continent’s industrialization.
The world is facing an existential climate crisis and must come together in solidarity to stave off the potentially devastating impacts, but leaving 600 million Africans in the dark is not an option.
Importantly, Africa produces the least responsibility for the world’s climate crisis but faces its most harsh consequences. Forty-eight sub-Saharan African countries outside of South Africa are responsible for just 0.55 percent of cumulative CO2 emissions. in addition, 7 of the 10 countries most unprotected to climate change are in Africa.
nevertheless, Africa will play a major role in solving the global crisis. The Congo Basin is the world’s second-largest rainforest and vital to stabilizing the world’s climate, absorbing 1.2 billion tons of CO2 each year. Without the Congo Basin and the Amazon, the world would be warming much more quickly.
The global change to replaceable energy will average exponentially scaling up the production of batteries, electric vehicles (EVs), and other replaceable energy systems, which require Africa’s mineral resources. For example, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), accounts for 70 percent of the world’s cobalt, the mineral vital to battery production. Cobalt need is expected to double by 2030. Conversely, 84 million people (80 percent of the total population) in the DRC could nevertheless without access to electric strength in 2030.
We believe that we can unprotected to the global emission reduction targets without constraining Africa’s development. To strength Africa’s economic growth and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we propose a four-point agenda for action:
- Utilize the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA will create the world’s largest free trade zone by integrating 54 African countries with a combined population of more than 1 billion people and a gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion. Africa’s commitment to lowering intra-African trade barriers can attract more private sector investment with larger, connected market opportunities.
- Leverage green economic opportunities. Increased need for electric vehicles, basic minerals, and replaceable energy systems is an opportunity for Africa to capture larger portions of supply chains in the new green economy. Nations and firms can collaborate across borders to create a pipeline of bankable strength projects to attract investment. Increasing local manufacturing and production capacity for resources, materials, and value-additional products vital to green technology will create jobs locally.
- Adopt just development finance. The large-extent strength projects needed to industrialize economies are capital-intensive and often require investments from development finance institutions. Development finance institution funding should catalyze private sector resources. While we agree on the environmental and economic justification for not financing new coal-fired plants, they should not limit sustain for natural gas, hydro, and geothermal strength generation projects. This policy creates an unjust burden on those economies that require a variety of supplies to increase access and build resilience into their strength infrastructure. It is hypocritical of the EU, the U.S., and China to utilize fossil fuels while effectively denying others the method to lift themselves out of poverty.
- Embrace proportionate responsibility. China, the EU, and the U.S. release over 40 percent of total global greenhouse gases, while all of Africa emits 7 percent. Prioritizing the change to renewables and imposing higher emission reduction requirements in the EU, U.S., and China will ease the burden on those nations that nevertheless need a variety of strength generation methods to increase energy access.
The world is facing an existential climate crisis and must come together in solidarity to stave off the potentially devastating impacts, but leaving 600 million Africans in the dark is not an option. We must avid a climate disaster and expand energy access in Africa at the same time.
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