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AFC Report Highlights Africa’s Steps To Combat Climate Change

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With hopes for countering global warming pinned on progress at the upcoming COP27 UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt, a new report from the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) has suggested a stance for the continent to adopt to balancing the need for emissions reduction with critical development imperatives.

The report, Roadmap to Africa’s COP: A Pragmatic Path to Net Zero, is set within a context where Africa has borne the brunt of the most devastating impacts of climate change, while contributing little to global emissions. The low carbon output reflects Africa’s crippling energy deficit, which has stymied industrialisation and economic development.

Africa, therefore, needs a realistic agenda for addressing climate change which allows the region to also continue advancing its industrial base, the AFC said in the report that was released at the the AFC Live Infrastructure Solutions summit to mark its 15th anniversary yesterday in Abuja.

“Africa is unlike any other continent when it comes to global net zero – and we need a blueprint for a common negotiating stance that reflects this,” said President and CEO of AFC Samaila Zubairu. “We are advocating for consideration of Africa’s energy deficit and the need for quantum leaps in industrialisation for job creation and reducing poverty, as well as climate-proofing built infrastructure and protecting our powerful carbon sinks.”

The report argues that, while cutting emissions is vital for the more developed and highest polluting wealthier nations, there is a more limited universal impact to be gained from reducing the far lower emissions of sub-Saharan Africa. The report concludes that African nations will drive a far greater effect in combatting global warming by focusing instead on three significant areas of change. The three thematic areas are for Africa to localise, re-build and finnovate.

According to the report, Africa must focus on developing local industries by putting processing and manufacturing at the centre of sustainable circular economies. AFC believes that doing so will eliminate emission-spewing shipments of Africa’s minerals and other commodities to Asia for manufacturing and processing, only to be shipped again as finished goods to consumer markets.

The report states that achieving that objective requires closing Africa’s energy deficit. While renewable sources are the ultimate goal, in the near-term Africa must exploit its abundant reserves of natural gas. Since much of Africa is already at net zero, such development can be achieved without contributing substantially to global carbon emissions, while channeling harmful gas flares from oil fields and reducing the use of more polluting fuels such as coal, diesel and firewood. Resultant job creation and economic growth will enable African nations to invest further in renewable sources.

Most important, the report said, is creating local manufacturing of the components of renewable energy technology. It is critical for these metals to be mined in such a way that minimises further pollution and for resource-efficient sustainable mining techniques to be combined with ecosystems fostering local production centres.

Africa is the most exposed region to the ravages of global warming largely because its infrastructure is ill equipped to withstand climate shocks. Without intervention, the cost of structural damage caused by natural disasters in Africa will increase to $415 billion a year by 2030 from between US$250 billion to $300 billion now, according to the UN office for disaster risk reduction.

The new report stated that Africa needs strong and resilient building — to re-build ocean and river defenses, and infrastructure in transport, construction, electricity grids and off-grid energy, which will in turn help the development of sustainable mining and the circular economies that drive growth and job creation, according to the report.

According to the report, key to effecting change is ensuring that Africa-based institutions such as the AFC get access to essential climate funds through financial innovation to support resilient building and investment in localised mass-scale manufacturing and processing. Financing is also needed to help preserve Africa’s vast carbon sinks, which absorb more carbon dioxide annually than any other region’s rainforests but are being depleted by local populations for firewood for cooking and heating.

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