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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 9th September 2021

Africa's case at the climate summit

Blue Lines

Africa's negotiators are heading for the UN's COP26 climate summit starting on 1 November in Glasgow with more at stake than any other region. Africa has contributed less to global warming measured by carbon output than any other continent. Yet it has been hit hardest by droughts, floods and cyclones. On the other side of the ledger is Africa's chronic energy deficit.

The latest goals in many countries to achieve net zero carbon by 2050, likely to be reinforced at COP26, need policy flexibility and financial innovation in Africa. Commercial and state institutions in Europe and the United States have stopped financing most gas projects in Africa as a way of meeting their carbon targets. But gas emits a fifth of the carbon produced by oil and is seen in many African states as a 'transitional' fuel.

South Africa's electricity industry is coal-dependent and its power utility Eskom has been teetering on bankruptcy. When Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo proposed a debt-for-climate swap to retire some US$10 billion of the utility's debts on coal-fired power to allow investments in solar and wind, there was a deafening silence from commercial bankers. The International Monetary Fund is preparing a similar plan for discussion at COP26.

All these economic and political questions are on the agenda at the Climate and Conflict Conference on 14 September, jointly organised by Africa Confidential, Crisis Group and the Royal African Society. We urge you to join us and follow the link. Register via Hopin: https://bit.ly/AfricanVoices4COP