African CSOs push for “immediate phase out” of fossil fuel at COP28

By Ndi Eugene Ndi

African Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are advocating an “immediate phase out” of fossil fuel at the United Nations climate conference (COP28) underway in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. They say one of the priorities for Africa at the conference was to secure deals that would triple investments in renewable energy on the continent; after the Africa Climate Summit failed to deliver ambitious outcomes on renewable energy.

Their advocacy is contained in a statement issued and delivered to negotiators at COP28 through Ephraim Shitima, the Chair of the Africa Group of Negotiators on Monday December 4 in Dubai.

In the statement, the advocates say delegations from the Global South have been outraged by the absence of provisions on energy access in the work programme on just transitions draft decision released at the climate talks, outlining what they call “hard-hitting 5-bullet” targets for renewable energy.

The organisations argue that the climate crisis is both a development and energy issue in Africa and that establishing a decision on energy access within the just transition workstream is not an option.

“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,” said Amos Wemanya, Just Transitions Lead at Power Shift Africa, a Climate and Energy Think Tank based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Amos Wemanya (Right) the Lead, Just Transitions at Power Shift Africa, presenting a copy the civil society statement on renewable energy targets for Africa to Ephraim Shitima, Chair, Africa Group of Negotiators
Amos Wemanya (Right) the Lead, Just Transitions at Power Shift Africa, presenting a copy the civil society statement on renewable energy targets for Africa to Ephraim Shitima, Chair, Africa Group of Negotiators

Carbon credits, false solution

At the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi last September, renewable energy investments received largely lukewarm attention, according to the CSOs. Rather the event rallied leaders behind “the so-called green investments” – that is carbon markets, as the solution to emissions that have been caused by fossil fuels.

“We need to reshape our agenda and involve African experts who understand our unique challenges. 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,” said Muhammed Lamin Saidykh, Head of Building Power at Climate Action Network (CAN International).

From unrelenting drought conditions across the Horn, Cyclone and El Nino in the southern, floods in the Eastern and high temperatures in the central, among others, Africa has faced a run of deadly and, in many cases, unprecedented extreme weather events this year, which is set to be the hottest on record.

According to Carbon Brief, at least 15,700 people have so far been killed in extreme weather disasters in Africa in 2023. A further 34 million people have been affected by extremes – and fossil fuels are to blame.

In their five renewable energy targets for the continent, the CSOs are demanding equity and historical responsibility from developed countries for the climate crisis and an adherence to human rights and protection of workers, communities and ecosystems.

“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, said Janet Milongo, Senior Officer at Global Platform of Action.

Prioritise, involve Africans in decision-making

Besides, the advocates are calling for a fair and transparent processes that provide opportunities for African countries to be at the centre of energy development decision-making on energy development. They are also advocating the prioritisation of accountability, transparency and involvement of stakeholders in all processes.

“A sincere commitment to a dignified energy future for Africa can only be founded by prioritising and centralising the needs of the African people. Africans must have full, fair and free participation in their energy transition,” Milongo said further.

According to Safiatou Nana, Regional Coordinator at Climate Action Network Africa (CAN Africa), renewable energy is not only a matter of environmental necessity, but a cornerstone of social and climate justice as well as an economic opportunity for Africa.

“Our continent’s potential in renewable energy resources and critical minerals is immense, and harnessing it is crucial for addressing both the climate crisis and energy poverty that affects 600 million Africans,” Nana said.

In their statement to the African Group of Negotiators, the CSOs have advocated for “immediate phase-out of the fossil fuel era in all sectors”, especially in developed countries that have benefited from historical emissions.

To the civil society, Africa needs a rapid roll-out of people-centred, environmentally and socially appropriate renewable energy on the continent as the solution to the climate crisis, energy poverty and an enabler to Africa’s development. And this also demands increased political support for and shift in global policy and investment in renewables which the advocates say “is critical in a quest to attain renewable energy targets” for the continent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *