Africans need adaptation strategies that support economic development, jobs and access to energy
As the amalgamation of climate change and COVID panic looms before us, “global leaders” have found voices from developing countries to join the crusade to save “the planet” from “pollution” by carbon dioxide (dioxide). But like their Chinese and Indian counterparts, many Africans, from heads of state to industry captains and beyond, intend to increase reliance on fossil fuels to build their economies rather than shrink them.
“Africa’s electricity needs are expected to increase significantly as the continent seeks to industrialize and improve the well-being of its people,” said Galina Alova, a researcher at Oxford University. Those hoping for a quick “decarbonization” of energy in Africa are likely to be disappointed. Alova’s research found that Africa is expected to double its electricity generation by 2030, with fossil fuels accounting for two-thirds of the total, hydropower an additional 18%, and non-hydropower renewable energies less than a tenth.
Such an energy mix contradicts the firm commitment of the Biden administration to demand an end to all international financing of energy projects based on fossil fuels. Biden Climate Commissioner John Kerry received strong support from 450 organizations around the world after sharing the “Plan to End International Funding of Fossil Fuel Projects with Public Funds” to World Economic Forum members.
The Biden plan is undoubtedly in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and reflects the demand by the European Union’s foreign ministers to end the funding of fossil fuel projects abroad, especially in Africa. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken is of the opinion that “development finance is an effective tool” to tackle the “climate crisis” with which the US wants to “drive investments in climate protection solutions”. (Translation: “We intend to ram decarbonization in the throat!”) And many Africans believe that they have to reassure their self-proclaimed know-it-alls and accept the principles of climate change.
World Bank veteran Ede Ijjasz Vasquez and Africa Growth Initiative Director Aloysius Ordu believe that Africans need to use the COVID pandemic to “big reset” African economies in accordance with the UN Sustainable Goals Development and initiate the principles of the Paris Agreement.
They insist that the world cannot afford to give Africa a passport to decarbonise – although China and India are clearly getting a passport, largely because they mostly fund their own projects. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has a similar policy to combat fossil fuels. All of these attitudes smell of carbon colonialism and eco-imperialism.
Those who care about people and eradicate poverty and disease prefer a moderate approach.
At the end of March, investment professional Tariye Gbadegesin called on President Biden to give African nations priority as part of his global climate protection initiative. While admitting that Africa’s urban centers are swelling and “threatening more emissions,” she stated that balancing this ongoing development and its climate impact must be a global priority. For example, Nigeria could build a hybrid grid with abundant natural gas and solar power. Such a hybrid network may not meet Biden and EU funding guidelines, Gbadegesin acknowledged, but now a lot of gas is burned and wasted.
At the beginning of April, the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), the Global Center for Adaptation and the Africa Adaptation Initiative held a virtual leadership dialogue in response to the report on the state of the climate in Africa in 2019. Over 30 heads of state and other world leaders have pledged to prioritize measures that will help African countries both adapt to the alleged effects of “climate change” and overcome widespread energy poverty. The chairman of the African Union, Felix Tshisekedi, named “nature-based solutions, the energy transition, an improved transparency framework, technology transfer and climate finance” as critical adaptation areas.
During the meeting, AfDB President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina states that the group intends to mobilize US $ 25 billion for the success of the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program. “It is time,” he said, “that developed countries keep their promise to provide US $ 100 billion annually for climate finance.” And a larger part of that should go into climate adaptation. ”
Given the struggle developed by developed countries to recover and create jobs from COVID, and efforts to decarbonize their own economies, the chance of $ 10 billion a year is slim.
Furthermore, this African response to the Biden-EU decarbonisation initiative, which relies on adaptation and balance, not on carbon and eternal poverty to achieve sustainability, reflects the Brundtland Commission’s 1987 report “Our Common Future”. In it, the World Commission on Environment and Development defined “sustainable development” as development that “meets the needs of the present without impairing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. [emphasis added]
At the time, Commission chairman Gro Harlem Brundtland admitted: “A world where poverty is endemic will always be prone to ecological and other disasters.” In her view, “the satisfaction of basic needs requires not only a new era of economic growth for nations where the majority are poor, but also the assurance that those poor will receive their fair share of the resources necessary to sustain that growth. “
The US, EU and United Nations climate marches have long ignored Brundtland’s promises. The 20-year evaluation of the document by the United Nations did not even mention “poverty” or “Africa”. CFACT reported earlier this year that sub-Saharan Africa “has very little available energy and electricity, especially electricity, and overland trade [was] severely hampered by an almost complete lack of infrastructure. “Worse still, preventable lung diseases were (and are) widespread because people depend on manure and wood fires for heating and cooking.
At the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, nuclear physicist (and CFACT advisor) Kelvin Kemm reported that African representatives were not happy. “Their general feeling,” he noted, “was that the First World was trying to push Africa around, get African countries to accept their opinions, and worse.” [forcing Africa to adopt] his supposed “solutions”. “
This feeling persists. W. Gyude Moore, Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development and former Liberian Minister for Public Works, responded to the renewable energy funding plan in Biden (EU) and suggested, “There is this idea because Africa has no old infrastructure. It is a good canvas to paint the energy future. But no African country has volunteered for it. ”
Given that nearly 600 million Africans still do not have access to electricity, “it seems immoral to limit the options for energy sources for the world’s poorest continent,” said Moore. He and Breakthrough Institute scientist Vijaya Ramachandran later wrote that banning oil and gas projects in Africa would stunt economic growth and make poor populations even more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
The top priority for most African countries is economic growth, first in agriculture, then in industry and services, declared Moore and Ramachandran. For most Africans, concerns about an increased carbon footprint from economic growth are a distant second after concerns that growth may not happen at all. In her view, people in poverty don’t need to power just a tiny refrigerator or single lightbulb in their home. You need abundant and affordable energy at home and at work.
Africa’s needs are too great to be met only with expensive, intermittent green energy technologies. The finances are too tight to deliver climate-neutral energy, emphasize Moore and Ramachandran. Keeping Africa poor to tackle climate change is not going to help the hardest hit people.
Unfortunately, President Biden, his EU allies and the “450 green” companies seem to either not understand or care about these basic concepts.
This arrogance makes it clear that “our common future”, if at all, still lies in the future. The difference is that Africans are no longer waiting for the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or even the African Development Bank to finally invest in much-needed African infrastructure. By hook or crook, Africans pledge to use whatever resources are available to get their job done – even if that means adapting to Chinese banks, Chinese mining companies, and Chinese business conditions.
Duggan Flanakin is director of policy research on the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org). Previously, he coordinated the publication of scientific research in the US Bureau of Mines and prepared reports on regulatory agencies, environmental education and science policy.