A climate pact

(Last Updated On: November 10, 2022)

United Nations secretary general António Guterres this week called a climate solidarity pact, between the developed and developing nations as a solution to the threat of climate change which threatens humanity.

The pact, he said at the meeting of world leaders in Sharm El Sheikh, would see all countries “make an extra effort” to reduce emissions this decade in line with the 1.5-degree goal.

Guterres called for a pact in which wealthier countries and international financial institutions provide financial and technical assistance to help emerging economies speed their own renewable energy transition.

He wants a pact that will end dependence on fossil fuels and the building of new coal plants – phasing out coal in OECD countries by 2030 and everywhere else by 2040.

He said humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish.

His warning cannot be ignored.

That climate change is a threat is indisputable. What is disputable is how to navigate the crisis. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work as it comes at a time developed countries are still to meet their pledges for Africa to transition to clean energy.

COP27 comes on the background of the effects of Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war which has upset the applecart in the drive towards the use of clean energy.

The shortage of gas due to geopolitical tension has seen some countries turning to coal energy despite plans to abandon the fossil fuel which they call a “dirty” energy source.

In Africa, coal is a major source of energy and some citizens have no access to electricity.

The continent believes it is getting a short end of the stick in terms of climate finance. It is estimated that Africa accounts for 4% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.

African Development Bank (AfDB) chief Akinwumi Adesina said Africa’s financing needs to address climate change ranges between US$1.3 trillion to US$1.6 trillion between 2020 and 2030.

He, however, said Africa was not getting enough resources to tackle climate change.

“Africa gets only 3% of total global climate finance. Climate financing mobilised globally falls short of Africa’s needs by US$100bn to US$127bn per year between 2020-2030,” Adesina told the bank shareholders at the group’s annual meetings in May.

This comes as Africa is estimated to be losing about US$15bn annually due to climate change with the loss projected to peak to US$40bn per year by 2040.

AfDB says Africa has the lowest electrification rate of all regions. It is estimated that 42% of the population has access to electricity, compared with 75 percent in the developing world. There are some citizens on the continent that are still to get access to electricity more than 50 years after the decolonisation of Africa began.

The transition to clean energy has to be realistic and workable, taking cognisance of the fact that continents are at different stages of development.

As Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission, said this week, a transition has to be redefined depending on the context of each region. For Africa, it is a transition from charcoal and firewood to energy. Energy access is the main challenge facing the continent, she said.

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