The Hopeful After Effect of COP 27 on Energy Access in Africa
The 27th Conference of Parties (COP 27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change took place in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt from November 6th to 18th, 2022. It brought together leaders from 197 countries and representatives from various institutions to assess the progress of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. At the end of the conference, a significant agreement was reached to provide financial assistance, known as "loss and damage" funding, to vulnerable countries that have been affected by climate change and disasters. This is seen as a key step in addressing the global challenge of climate change.
Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, stated that progress has been made on the issue of long-term funding for "loss and damage," which refers to the financial assistance provided to communities that have been severely impacted by the consequences of climate change. He emphasized the importance of addressing the harm caused to these communities and their livelihoods by the worst impacts of climate change.
Can this fund serve as green financing to increase energy access in the impacted countries?
The “loss and damage” fund is designed to address the disproportionate impact of climate change on certain countries and to provide financial assistance to these countries to alleviate the impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather events and other disasters. This aspect of climate justice is intended to address the unequal distribution of the causes and effects of climate change, which often disproportionately affects developing countries. The "loss and damage" fund is similar to the concept of "climate debt", which refers to the debt owed by developed countries to developing countries for the damage caused by their disproportionately large contributions to climate change. The idea behind climate debt is that developed countries, which have historically had higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions and have contributed significantly to climate change, have a responsibility to provide financial assistance to developing countries, which are often more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The "loss and damage" fund can be seen as one mechanism through which this assistance is provided.
Both the "loss and damage" fund and climate debt recognize the responsibility of developed countries to provide financial assistance to developing countries to address the impacts of climate change.
It is true that many regions and countries, including Africa, Haiti, Caribbeans, and others, are disproportionately impacted by climate change and its effects, such as droughts, floods, and extreme weather events. While addressing climate change, energy accessibility is a major concern when it comes to Africa. According to global statistics, Africa's contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions has fluctuated between 3.4% and 3.8% over the past two decades, which is the smallest among all world regions. Despite this relatively low contribution, many countries in Africa are already experiencing the impacts of a changing climate. The lack of access to energy can exacerbate these impacts and further deepen the climate crisis which has severe consequences on the lives of people and economic development in these regions.
During the COP 27 conference, concerns were raised about the ability to deliver on the "loss and damage" agreement and provide the necessary financial assistance to developing countries. These concerns were in part fueled by the fact that the goal set at the 2009 COP in Copenhagen for developed countries to mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to climate change has yet to be fully met. UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell acknowledged these concerns and stated that the language of the agreement includes assurances that there will be no backsliding on the commitments made.
Do we all think that this agreement made will be met by providing financial assistance to Africa and other climate-impacted regions?
If the "loss and damage" agreement reached at the COP 27 conference is successfully implemented, it could potentially represent a new chapter for Africa, particularly the Sub-Saharan region, in terms of increasing energy access. The global energy mix is diverse and includes a mix of fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable energy sources. If the funding provided through the agreement leads to increased investment in clean energy infrastructures in Africa, it could help to accelerate the development of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, which would provide reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy to communities that currently lack access to electricity. This would be a significant step towards addressing the energy needs of these communities and improving their quality of life.
Energy access is closely linked to other development goals such as education, healthcare, and economic growth. For example, access to electricity can enable schools to operate more effectively, hospitals to run medical equipment, and businesses to operate more efficiently. Improving energy access in Africa would also help to address issues related to energy security, affordability, and sustainability, which are often referred to as the "energy trilemma." Addressing these issues is essential for the development and well-being of communities in Africa and other regions. By providing reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy sources, it is possible to support education, healthcare, and economic growth and improve the overall quality of life for people in these communities.
It is important to note that increasing energy access in Africa and other impacted regions will require the participation and engagement of local communities in addition to the financial support provided through the "loss and damage" fund. This could involve initiatives to build local capacity and skills, as well as efforts to ensure that the benefits of clean energy projects are shared equitably among all members of the community. By involving local communities in the planning and implementation of clean energy projects, it is possible to ensure that these projects meet the needs and priorities of the people who will be using them and ensure that the benefits are shared fairly and sustainably.
The transition to a low-carbon energy system is a complex and multifaceted process that will require the cooperation and commitment of a range of actors, including developed countries, government leaders, corporations, and other stakeholders. To enable Africa and other regions to make this transition, it will be important for all of these actors to work together and provide the necessary support and resources. It is hoped that the outcomes of COP 27, including the "loss and damage" agreement, will contribute to a more reliable and equitable energy system in Africa, which will in turn help to improve the lives and well-being of people and communities in the region.
Future Thought Leaders is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of rising Energy & Sustainability writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.
About the author
Michal Ezeh is a Research Analyst at Sirius-X Energy, a clean energy start-up located in Nigeria. She also works as an Operational Excellence Analyst at illuminem. She has forged formidable skills in energy policy and systems research, clean energy technologies.