Campaigners have warned that Africa is in danger of locking the continent into fossil fuels for decades to come with leaders considering a new position that would prioritize fossil gas and nuclear over cleaner, cheaper, renewables.
A technical committee of the African Union – made up of energy ministers – has recently proposed an “African Common Position on Energy Access and Transition”. This position centers on fossil gas and nuclear energy, at the expense of renewables, and is proposed for adoption by African Heads of State and launched at COP27.
This comes on the back of the European Union’s recent vote in favor of a new rule that will consider fossil gas and nuclear projects “green,” making them eligible for lost-cost loans and subsidies, and their scramble for Africa’s energy resources.
Together these would clear the way for the COP27 climate talks in Egypt to announce a massive effort to scale up fossil gas production in Africa, distracting from the clear need for renewables, locking the continent into fossil fuels for decades to come, while also shifting dangerous nuclear technologies that Europeans don’t want onto African soil.
Campaigners are concerned that the position will fail to achieve its own objectives of ensuring energy access and transition.
“Africa is blessed with an abundance of wind, solar and other clean renewable energies. African leaders should be maximizing this potential and harnessing the abundant wind and sun which will help boost energy access and tackle climate change. What Africa does not need is to be shackled with expensive fossil fuel infrastructure which will be obsolete in a few years as the climate crisis worsens,” said Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa.
He added “It would be a shameful betrayal of African people, already on the front line of the climate crisis, if African leaders use this November’s COP27 climate summit on African soil to lock Africa into a fossil fuel based future. Africa does not need the dirty energy of the past, it needs forward looking leadership that can take advantage of the clean energy of the present and future.”
The campaigners have also expressed concerns that it could have drastic consequences for Africa’s future prosperity, locking in massive stranded asset risk, damaging development prospects, while prioritising exports to Europe and the Global North.
It could also damage the credibility of COP27 and the viability of global climate goals as set out in the Paris Agreement. Their concerns are set out in an African Energy Access and Transition Memorandum
“As a concerned African citizen, it is totally unacceptable for African leaders to prioritize gas while millions hardest hit by the unfolding climate crisis are struggling to adapt to the devastating realities of climate change,” said Charity Migwi, Africa Regional Campaigner at 350.org.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) warned in 2020 that there is no room for new fossil fuels. The development of gas would not only lock African nations into fossil fuel production but would also undermine any plans to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to keep global temperatures under 1.5 degrees Celsius, in order to avert even more catastrophic climate impacts.
“African leaders must instead support sustainable sources of renewable energy for the communities in developing countries for the good of humanity and the planet,” said Charity.