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Saturday, February 24, 2024

COP28: African CSOs demand increased renewable energy, adaptation finance to continent

As climate negotiations at COP28 enter the homestretch in Dubai, African Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and representatives from affected communities have called for the tripling of renewable energy in Africa, more focus on adaptation and increased adaptation finance to the continent.

A gathering of African CSO representatives at COP28

Led by 350.org, Power Shift Africa and ACCESS Coalition, the organisations have urged the negotiators to push for an outcome that will yield a fast, fair and fully funded transition from fossil fuels. They note that the current fossil fuel-based energy system in Africa has failed to deliver energy access to the continent while leaving more than half a billion Africans energy-poor.

The ongoing negotiations are happening against the background of crippling climate change events, including the historic floods currently being experienced in East Africa that have claimed more than 350 lives and displaced a million people in Kenya and Tanzania. The Horn of Africa region has been recovering from a drought that ended in April, billed by climate experts as the longest and most devastating in four decades.

In their arguments, civil society has labelled the two percent (about $60 billion) investment received by the continent in the last decade for renewable energy development as unfair, unjust and unacceptable. They have called for renewable energy to be scaled up to more than 15,000 GW by 2030 or an average of 1500 GW annually to keep the 1.5°C temperature target within reach. To achieve this, they are pushing for more political support and a shift in policy and investment.

In the Nairobi Declaration of the Africa Climate Summit, African leaders noted that meeting the renewable energy target by 2030 requires an estimated $600 billion, which translates to a tenfold increase in finance flowing into Africa’s renewable energy sector over the next seven years.

The CSOs have also stated that only strong phaseout language and clear commitments in the outcome text will accelerate and deliver an equitable and just transition for Africa. Under this arrangement, those responsible for historic emissions, namely developed countries, will have to phase out fossil fuels first while allowing more time for vulnerable countries to get sufficient time and climate finance to develop their renewable energy systems.

Amos Wemanya, Lead, Just Transitions, Power Shift Africa, said: “This COP is not the place to protect countries’ selfish interests. Taking such a position would be absurd. This COP should be a place to forge collaborations that allow all countries to phase out fossil fuels. It is time for everyone at this COP to call out the energy system that is responsible for the climate crisis the world is currently experiencing.

“There is nothing like abated or unabated fossil fuels. We know the source of the climate crisis. We must address emissions from the source. We must also phase out subsidies and other financial support for fossil fuels. It is also important to cease using convenient language such as efficient or inefficient energy forms.”

Florence Gichoya, ACCESS Coalition, noted: “To attain a just transition in energy, we need to take a needs-based approach. Even within countries in Africa, different communities have different energy needs. The transition pathways we promote must accommodate these needs. We must have the end user in mind while developing any means of energy for it to be just. We cannot forget rural communities in the Global South without access to clean energy.

“COP28 should also make a strong commitment to phase out fossil fuels. This phaseout should be done equitably. Every decision we make at this COP will affect us not just now but for generations to come. What we decide today will be stuck with us forever.”

Portia Adu Mensah, National Coordinator, 350 Ghana Reducing Our Carbon (350 GROC), remarked: “African leaders must reject distractions such as oil and gas expansion projects in the name of energy access and job creation on the continent. Doing so will only worsen the suffering of vulnerable communities in Africa who lack access to energy to date. Instead, this climate conference must reflect a strong commitment to tripling renewable energy in Africa. Our leaders must also push for a clear path to adaptation at COP28 to allow frontline communities to cope better with climate shocks.”

Cristina Rhumbaitis, Senior Advisor, Adaptation and Resilience, UN Foundation, added: “The framework for the Global goal on adaptation is the most important adaptation outcome we expect to see from this COP. We need this framework, with clear targets and financing behind it, to be a guiding star for adaptation. The framework has to send a clear message to politicians and decision-makers at all levels that urgent action is needed to get climate-ready.”

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