Last Updated on: 6th December 2023, 01:45 pm
Reporting from Kampala City I As the COP28 gets underway in Dubai, African Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have issued a hard-hitting statement calling out developed nations to commit to phasing out fossil fuel and protecting ecosystems among other demands.
The delegations from the Global South were outraged by the absence of provisions on energy access in the work programme on just the transition draft decision released at the ongoing climate talks.
The demands, which were delivered to negotiators at COP28 through Ephraim Shitima, the Chair of Africa Group of Negotiators include: “equity and historical responsibility from developed countries for the climate crisis,” “adherence to human rights and protection of workers, communities and ecosystems,” “fair and transparent processes that provide opportunities for African countries to be at the centre of energy development decision-making on energy development.”
Others are: “accountability, transparency and involvement of stakeholders in all processes must be prioritized” and “an immediate phase-out of the fossil fuel era in all sectors, especially in developed countries that have benefited from historical emissions.”
Amos Wemanya, the Lead Just Transitions expert at Power Shift Africa, noted that the climate crisis is a development issue that requires a just energy access solution through using renewable energy.
“Renewable energy today offers a viable, cost-effective pathway for meeting Africa’s energy needs. Accelerating the swift and scaled deployment of renewables is not an aspiration but a necessity in Africa. COP28 must catalyze increased renewable energy investments on the continent for energy access,” he said.
He added that Africa’s push to transition to renewable energy must take a people-centred approach to guarantee justice for Africans, highlighting that more than 15,000 Gigawatts (GW) must be scaled up in 2030 to keep the 1.5°C temperature target within reach.
“There is no climate justice without human rights. Renewable energy deployment and fossil fuel phase-out in Africa must respect fundamental human rights and the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The fossil industry needs to be made to pay for the harms they have and continue to cause in African communities,” Wemanya added.
Africa is the least global carbon emitter, contributing just four per cent yet it is the most vulnerable to climate crisis majorly driven by burning fossil fuel from the global north.
One of the priorities for Africa at COP28 was to secure deals that would spur investments in renewable energy on the continent after the Africa Climate Summit failed to deliver ambitious outcomes on renewable energy in September this year.
At the summit, however, renewable energy investments received largely lukewarm attention as the event hosted by Kenya rallied leaders behind the so-called green investments, namely carbon markets, as the solution to emissions that have been caused by fossil fuels.
Janet Milongo, Senior Officer, Global Platform of Action, said there is a need for increased political support to ensure there are favourable policies and investments in renewables to attain renewable energy targets.
For years, she noted, Africa has been severely hit by climate shocks adding that the second largest continent needs “genuine support from historical polluters to limit global temperature rise” and to make it possible for the world to avert future crises.
“COP28 must be the forum that finally delivers for Africa. It must be the catalyst that finally changes the course of the region from a dark, retrogressive fossil fuel-driven energy system that goes against Africa’s interests. It must be our bridge to a bright, autonomous, empowering and abundantly African renewable energy system,” Milongo said.
“A sincere commitment to a dignified energy future for Africa can only be founded by prioritizing and centralizing the needs of the African people. Africans must have full, fair and free participation in their energy transition. These commitments will only be meaningful and actionable when and if coupled with the finance required to meet the full scale of the African energy transition.”
Safiatou Nana, Regional Coordinator, Climate Action Network Africa – CAN Africa, called for Western partnerships that are interested in pushing for renewable energy infrastructural development since most climate solutions in Africa are driven by Western interests rather than the desire to truly benefit the continent.
“The promotion of false solutions like carbon credits and geoengineering is unacceptable. Africa must reject them. These approaches serve the interests of wealthy nations and corporations by allowing them to continue to pollute. We should prioritize Africa’s interests and that is to transition away from fossil fuels in a just and equitable manner,” he said.
Nana added that Africa has potential in renewable energy resources and critical minerals is immense, and harnessing it is crucial for addressing both the climate crisis and energy poverty affecting Africans.
“Renewable energy is not only a matter of environmental necessity. It is a cornerstone of social and climate justice and economic opportunity for Africa,’ said
Muhammed Lamin Saidykh, Head of Building Power at CAN- International said African experts need to be considered since they understand the unique challenges of Africa.