Big countries rally behind Africa on renewable energy

By Mantoe Phakathi

*Africa Green Media

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By Mantoe Phakathi

Developed states at the climate negotiations in the French capital, Paris, have joined hands with their African counterparts to support of renewable energy sources.

In a joint statement issued in the second week of the 21st session (COP 21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), developed states took this initiative to reduce energy poverty in the African continent.

These countries include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United States of America, United Kingdom, Sweden, and Netherlands.

“We support Africa’s leadership and commit to working closely with African partners to bridge the access gap and develop Africa’s renewable energy potential,” reads the statement issued on behalf of the French government. “In this context we welcome the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative as a transformative, Africa-owned and led inclusive effort to accelerate and scale-up the harnessing of the continent’s renewable energy potential.”

Endorsed by the African Union (AU) and African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), the initiative aims to achieve at least 10 GW of new and additional renewable energy generation capacity by 2020, and acknowledges the renewable resource potential in Africa, which the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) 2013 Africa renewable energy roadmap estimates as sufficient to generate at least 300 GW by 2030.

“We support this African initiative through a variety of mechanisms and settings and endorse its aim of strengthening coordination with existing initiatives and identifying where further work is needed to develop renewable energy in Africa,” reads part of the statement.

These existing initiatives include SE4ALL, Power Africa initiative, U.S. Africa Clean Energy Finance initiative, Africa-EU Energy Partnership, the UK’s Energy Africa campaign, AfDB flagship programmes, the IRENA Africa Clean Energy Corridors, the EU’s Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFi) and Technical Assistance Facility, and other bilateral, regional and global programs and initiatives, including by the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance.

“We will work to mobilize existing financial institutions, including the Green Climate Fund, and improve the enabling environment for private investments in climate technologies, project development capacity, and regulatory framework and sector policies.”

Although this looks like a grand initiative, members of civil society organisations are calling for the adoption and up scaling of renewable energy sources to be included in the Paris agreement, expected at the end of this week.

Responding to a question from Africa Green Media, Ruth Davis, from Greenpeace, said the agreement should state clearly what it would take to reach a rise in temperature to below 1.5 or 2 degree Celsius in the real world.

“We are increasingly hopeful to see the phasing out of fossil fuels,” said Davis.

This, therefore, means the investment in low-carbon economies by countries without leaving behind, what Davis described as the “vulnerable people who are impacted by climate change” by introducing clean technologies should be in the Paris Agreement.

“The vulnerable people impacted by climate change should be supported to get access to these clean technologies,” said Davis.

In support of this view was Edwin Usang from Nigeria who was protesting against the use of fossil fuels.

“The integrity of the ecosystem and human rights has disappeared from the draft,” said Usang. “Without the integrity of the ecosystem, we can’t reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius rise in temperatures.”

He also called for a Cop 21 Agreement that takes into account the phasing out of fossil fuels while emphasising the adoption of renewable energy sources of energy.