As the Finance in Common summit kicks off in Cote d’Ivoire, civil society organisations are calling on leading Public Finance Institutions, among them the African Development bank (AfDB) and European Investment Bank (EIB) to play a bolder, more ambitious role toward a fossil-free energy future in Africa.
In a joint position statement, the CSOs underscored the need for the institutions to exercise transparency in the disbursement of climate finance, strengthen climate policies by implementing a fossil fuel exclusion policy and divesting from fossil gas. They have expressed concern with the recent push for fossil gas as a transition fuel, which they say would lock the continent into fossil fuel dependence and delay the clean energy transition in Africa.
The CSOs are calling for financing towards oil, coal and gas projects, to be urgently replaced by predominantly grant-based climate finance for renewable energy and a people-centered just transition.
The dash for gas in Africa has also been a point of contention as European nations such as Germany and Italy, look to Africa to meet their energy needs following supply disruptions occasioned by the Ukraine-Russia war. Climate activists have decried the move that not only fails to address Africa’s energy poverty, but also poses the risk of further fueling climate breakdown.
Charity Migwi, Africa Regional Campaigner at 350.org, said: “By financing fossil fuels in Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are facilitating debt traps that will lead to a dangerous ripple effect, causing environmental destruction, severe climate impacts and rising poverty. This will in turn lock countries into a vicious cycle of debt for decades to come. Instead, AfDB and EIB should provide climate finance to help Africa leapfrog to a sustainable energy future that is not only affordable, but also addresses the people’s social and developmental needs as well as past injustices.”
Dean Bhebhe, Campaigns Lead Power Shift Africa, said: “The investments by the African Development Bank and European Investment Bank in Africa continue to fuel the impacts of the climate crisis experienced by communities across the continent. There is no time for climate denialism. Public Finance Institutions must act now to end all fossil fuel finance and invest in sustainable renewable energy for all.
“It is critical Africa attracts increased investments to leapfrog dirty energy and become a green leader and not just a victim of the climate emergency. Africa refuses to have its future to be governed by fossil gas investments. This is not the Africa we Want.”
Lorraine Chiponda, Dont Gas Africa Campaign, said: “Looking back at past decades, public and private financial institutions have laid out financial and trade policy frameworks as well as financed fossil fuel projects that have resulted in climate catastrophes. The real costs of financing dirty fossil fuel projects are the climate disasters that have impacted humanity and the environment. We need to take heed of the alarms sounded by communities, activists and even by the 2022 IPCC report and radically shift finance towards renewables.
“African communities have suffered massive loss and damage without reparations, and we urge global financial institutions to reverse and stop financing fossil fuel projects. Being in the periphery of the elite global financial infrastructure, African financial institutions should not partake in policies and financing of projects that are the underlying cause of global warming which has undermined the lives and wellbeing of African people. Africa should instead seek out financing for a rapid, just, equitable and people’s transition towards renewable energy. The dash for gas in Africa is not meant to alleviate the energy poverty faced by hundreds of millions of African people and will vastly increase carbon emissions by African countries who are otherwise not contributing much, at this point.”
Courtney Morgan, campaigner for the African Climate Reality Project, stated: “Development Banks have a mandate to support development. But we cannot continue to use an outdated, colonial definition of development that prioritises profits over people, the burning of fossil fuels over the planet, and enriches a few at the expense of the poorest. We want an African centered development that builds communities’ capacity and resilience to survive the climate crisis.
“Financing for projects that continue to extract and burn fossil fuels compromises Africa’s ability to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis and locks us into debt cycles and a Western model of development that never has and never will serve our people. We need to redefine development in Africa to a model that is both socially and environmentally just, provides access to clean energy for our people, and transitions to renewable energy, with no community or worker left behind.”
Omar Elmawi, the Director of Muslims for Human Rights, stated: “Financiers have for a while gotten away with financing fossil fuels that have not only worsened the climate crisis and caused untold harm and impacts to lives and livelihoods but have also exacerbated human rights violations within the Africa continent. The role they played in the financing has made them accomplices of this crime and also a bottleneck of doing what’s right: financing real solutions.
“The choice is now theirs to make, do they continue with this travesty, or do they do what’s decent and the right thing which is financing community led renewable energy which provides accessible and affordable energy to the over 600 million Africans that are energy poor, rather than continuing to stand with corporate interests at the expense of the continents interest? All eyes are on them, and they have a choice to make between people or corporate greed. We hope they choose the former.”