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Osinbajo pushes green debt forgiveness plan

The Vice-President calls for a fourfold hike in green energy investment but warns economic pressures are boosting fossil fuel use

With Western countries accused of unfairness for compelling Africa to curtail fossil fuel use when they are only responsible for a tiny proportion of greenhouse gases, Nigerian Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo proposed at a summit last week that creditor nations forgive international debts if the money saved is spent on green energy projects instead.

Speaking at the Centre for Global Development in Washington D.C., Osinbajo highlighted the need for energy investment in Africa, saying the continent needs a fourfold increase in spending to get the more sustainable energy bases needed to limit global warming. He warned use of high-polluting and deforesting fuels will increase if energy access issues are not tackled soon. Osinbajo said many countries face urgent 'escalating debt situations' following the pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine has also meant richer countries' seeming hypocrisy over energy use has been under scrutiny in recent months. Since February, Western nations have made increased moves for fossil fuels around Africa while continuing to demand that poorer nations reduce their carbon emissions. In April, Italy sought to buy more gas from Angola and Congo-Brazzavile, while Germany has been shopping for fuel in Senegal (Dispatches 9/8/22, Fight over Africa’s fossil fuels intensifies).

Rich countries say they do not want to invest in fossil fuel projects in Africa due to their emissions. But they have been accused of having different rules for their own emissions, while also not helping African nations to become greener. In June, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari accused the EU of 'hypocrisy' and 'inconsistency and contradiction' for not investing in a gas pipeline to Morocco while continuing to spend money on some gas projects for their own benefit. EU lawmakers in July voted to classify gas and nuclear energy projects as green investments.

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