“The COP27 that we need”- African leaders in Egypt insist
The Conference of the Parties (COP 27) which officially commenced on Sunday, November 6, 2022, in Egypt, has been dubbed the African COP. It has also been anticipated to serve as a platform for Africa to be at the forefront of international climate change negotiations.
Major lobby groups have revealed that the summit is an opportunity for African countries to galvanize immediate and on-the-ground action on climate, health, debt crises, food, and energy crisis caused by fossil fuel price spikes and a rising cost of living, with Russia’s fossil fuel-financed war on Ukraine further stoking the crisis.
African leaders, speakers, and experts from across the spectrum, who will be making case for the interest of the continent in Egypt within the next few days, have set for themselves the target of amplifying the dialogue around the “TheCOPWeNeed”, with much emphasis on “Just transition”
The UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe, in preparing the ground for this debate on the part of the continent, had at the first African Regional Roundtable on Climate Initiatives, held at Addis Ababa Ethiopia recently, said, ”Africa COP is not just a COP where we go and meet and talk, but that it has to be a club that delivers.
She said, “We’re looking at this COP being really the clarion call, the wake-up post-COVID recovery. We’re all going to be in different economic settings. Unfortunately, that is not where we are”.
Ms Songwe and other African leaders, therefore, see COP27, as an opportunity to present critical African issues to the global community for necessary attention, based on the vulnerability of the continent to the impacts of climate change.
According to the African Climate Foundation (ACF), some of the issues that are expected to be discussed at the forum, will serve as a critical platform to shift the narrative of the climate transition in Africa, from one of risk to a constructive narrative around opportunities.
African lobby groups and experts have also suggested that the Just Energy Transition partnership between South Africa and Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union was one of the most notable outcomes of COP26 to support South Africa’s phase-out of coal.
They also argued that during the COP27, the same model should be deployed by the developed countries to other vulnerable African countries with less clout, as part of a measure to shift the energy sector from poverty state to energy for all.
According to them wealthy countries should be able to aid developing countries in their own green transitions, and structure these deals in order to complement multilateral, global initiatives on climate action.
The focus of Africans, at the COP27, is the debate on strategies that will expedite more technological innovation, adoption and dissemination of cleaner energy alternatives for Africa.
The Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in the run-up to COP27 in Egypt, urged African leaders not only to be proactive but also be assertive about the need for just transition.
He revealed that every nation must play its part in solving the dual crises of global poverty and climate change. According to Osinbajo, “Africa must be committed to solving both poverty and warming planet emergencies which affect the people more than any other region.
He said, “We are absolutely clear that Africa must be proactive, we must be assertive of our needs, and we must do a better job of making our views heard. That is what to expect in Egypt.
“Energy is a stark and inexcusable example of global inequality. The pandemic has laid bare the realities of global inequality, that certain regions are hit the hardest, and that the global response is usually uneven and unjust. Today, less than 10 percent of Africans are fully vaccinated.
“Inequality is just as unforgivable when it comes to energy: 48 sub-Saharan countries – our entire region minus South Africa, are home to more than one billion people, yet we all use less electricity than Spain.
“We should not accept a world where any person uses less electricity than an American refrigerator.
“Secondly, climate policy accepts that a Just Transition is necessary to ensure no communities get left behind. But the concept of justice narrowly applies to easing the pain of coal communities in the US, Germany, India, and South Africa as they transition away from coal.
“But what is a Just Transition for countries with no coal and deep energy poverty? A Just Energy Transition would mean something very different for every other African country, including my own Nigeria. For us, a Just Transition means a lot more energy, not less and climate justice must include ending global energy poverty.
“Every person on the planet deserves to have modern energy. Every person deserves a job. All modern economies require abundant, affordable, and reliable energy. And with the impacts of climate change bearing down on us, every nation must have enough energy to build resilient infrastructure, deliver essential public services, and provide the cooling and air conditioning to withstand a warming planet. I’ll say this again: climate justice must include ending energy poverty.
Osinbajo further insisted that every country must find its own path to a low-carbon future. He noted that the EU’s decision to label both gas and nuclear as green energy is a clear recognition that Europe knows that countries need a wide range of options.
He, therefore, said, “The United States too has a long-term plan that includes an array of different technologies that meet the needs of diverse communities across the country.
“In the same manner, Africa too will find its own path. Africa too will use an array of technologies that meet the needs of diverse countries across the continent.
The Nigerian VP, therefore, noted that Africa, like other regions, will need flexibility too. In the United States and in Europe, it is accepted that natural gas is a transition fuel and necessary for energy security, yet it has somehow become fashionable to deny this same flexibility to Africa.
He said, “To assume that we can leapfrog fossil fuels without working with us to understand our challenges and our needs is clearly unjust and will delay our development and our transition to a cleaner future.
“Nigeria along with many other African leaders, are concerned about new financing rules making it very difficult for developing countries to access finance for gas-to-power.
“Yes, we know there are some exceptions. But we are already seeing the investment rules limit the technology choices of African countries in ways that do not apply to wealthy nations. Applying a set of standards to Africa that will not be applied in wealthier countries is the opposite of climate justice.
Professor Osinbajo insisted that if the global energy transition is going to become reality, amidst the global climate crisis, then the priorities of African nations cannot be sidelined.
The VP noted that climate justice must include far greater support for countries with the greatest needs and who contribute the least to global emissions.
He said, “Egypt will be a crucial moment for African leaders to explain their common position. Egypt can be a turning point for fighting climate change and for ending global poverty. The win-win is there for the world to grasp. We can succeed but only if the needs of developing countries are heard.”
NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, on the sideline of the commencement of COP27 insisted that African countries should oppose any resolutions from next week’s COP27 summit that seek to obstruct the continent’s capacity to exploit fossil fuels.
The head of South Africa-based continental hydrocarbon lobby group, stated that Africa should be able to make “full use” of its fossil fuel resources in pursuit of economic growth and prosperity.
He said, “The wealthy nations’ green agenda does not consider how much Africa needs natural gas to bring electricity to the growing number of Africans living without it.
“If Africa is not on the table, it will be on the menu. We are not ignoring the world’s green agenda, we’re simply not willing to embrace the world’s timetable for transitioning to renewable fuels at the expense of our own energy security and economic well-being.
“A continent that emits a negligible amount of carbon dioxide is being disproportionately pegged as a threat to the planet by developed nations,” Ayuk said.
EnergyDay therefore gathered that the access to fund for the exploitation of oil and gas resources in Libya, Algeria, Gabon, Chad, Angola, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria will be one of the major issues to be raised during COP27 proceedings.
Since over 640 million in Africa do not have access to electricity, based on the African Development Bank(AfDB) estimate, representatives of the continent at the summit, are expected to navigate the parallel demands of guaranteeing energy security for Africa, while also insisting on balanced and inclusive energy transition, paving the way for access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.