25 April, 2022
Category : Power Shift in the News | tags: The Standard
By Amos Wemanya
In The Standard
From the recent deadly floods in South Africa, the cyclic droughts in the Horn of Africa to the melting glaciers in the Antarctica, it is clear the planet is under siege.
The climate crisis has left in its wake a wounded earth. If the earth is to heal, then we must divest ourselves of destructive activities such as fossil fuel exploration.
As we mark Earth Day, we must reverse this damage by investing in clean development pathways. Collectively, we need to invest in producing and consuming sustainably if we are rescue to ourselves from a catastrophic future.
Potentially, this year’s Earth Day presents a key moment for Africa as it prepares to host COP27 in Egypt. The Africa COP presents an opportunity to shift the focus to the continent’s climate vulnerability. Africa’s vulnerability to climate impacts is a result of complex interactions of socio-economic challenges and ecological destruction.
This year’s theme is “Invest in our planet”, meaning Africa needs to push for increased investment in the continent to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis on our communities. This will mean that Africa has to move away from investments that make it hard to renew and redistribute the available wealth.
One way for African countries to invest in the planet is by choosing a clean development path away from fossil fuels. For African countries, the need for reliable and affordable energy is key as it will help build resilience against climate impacts and achieve Africa’s development aspirations.
Fossil fuel-based energy systems have proved to be unequally distributed and do not provide the much-needed potential for local and distributed ownership that is essential in helping African communities to overcome climate challenges. The production of fossil fuels undermines every single Sustainable Development Goal, both directly and indirectly through the impacts of the climate crisis.
For instance, Kenya has been producing oil for well over 10 years now. The oil proceeds have not benefitted those who bear the burden of oil production: the people of Turkana. Neither Kenyans nor those in Turkana have access to this oil. In fact, in the past few weeks, Kenya has been witnessing agonisingly long queues for fuel at petrol stations.
Investing in fossil fuel production has failed to help Africa meet its development aspirations. Instead, areas where fossil fuel extraction happens are conflict torn. Oil, gas and coal have also damaged the environment and dispossessed people of their land and culture.
The first rule of holes is that when you find yourself in one, stop digging. Extraction and consumption of fossil fuels has got the world and humanity in a climate crisis. We need to stop burning more fossil fuels and pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
To protect the earth, a rapid roll-out of people-centred, environmentally, and socially appropriate renewable energy should be at the core of Africa’s agenda. By transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy, Africa will not only improve energy access, create jobs, and eradicate poverty but also play its part in protecting the planet.
The prosperity and ability of Africa to withstand the climate challenges will depend on its ability to power its economic development and create enough gainful employment opportunities for the growing population. Without achieving access to universal electricity, Africa will continue being vulnerable to under development, and the climate crisis.
Although the cost of renewables has been declining, it is important to design and implement effective financing mechanisms for renewables in Africa.
As the world convenes in Africa at the end of the year, charting the path for renewables should be a top priority. There is need to foster international cooperation that will see developed countries support Africa’s investment in energy systems that promote affordable, reliable and renewable energy access for all, protect the planet, promote sustainable development, and create decent work and quality jobs.
Scientific evidence for human-induced climate heating is unequivocal. However, tackling climate crisis is a battle we can win. Although this will require collective and critical investments in transformational sustainable production and consumption pathways including on questions around how we grow our food, use our land, transport goods, and power our economies.
If we work together as governments, businesses, civil society, youth, and academia, we can create a green renewable future where suffering is diminished, justice is upheld, and harmony is restored between people and planet.