Monday, December 7, 2015

Experts: Africa has the potential to lead the way towards a low carbon growth

By Isaiah Esipisu

Experts discuss possibilities of financing low-carbon growth in Africa
PARIS, France (PAMACC News) - Experts at the ongoing climate change negotiations in Paris have pointed that Africa can easily become the world leader in low-carbon development if it shuns the traditional methods of growth by taking advantage of the existing opportunities.

“Over three quarters of the energy infrastructure we need in Africa, as estimated the New Climate Economy have yet to be built.” said Dr Ngozi Okonjo-lwela, during a side event hosted by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the New Climate Economy and DFID at the Africa Pavilion.  “This offers Africa the opportunity to lead in terms of the transition,” she added.

Dr Okonjo-lwela, the former Finance Minister in Nigeria and the Commissioner at New Climate Economy further pointed out that another opportunity window for Africa’s low-carbon development was in the agricultural sector. “If we reclaim degraded land, we reduce emissions. This boosts agricultural productivity which takes care of the much needed food and nutrition,” she said.

However, the experts noted that public finance, while helpful, will not be sufficient to accommodate the scale and impact of the low-carbon development transition required. Therefore, one of the ways of financing it would be through Green Climate Fund (GCF).

“The Green Climate Fund will fail, if it does not deliver for Africa,” said Hela Cheikhrouhou, the Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund. “The greatest opportunity for this fund is to make a tangible difference for the continent,” she added.

The Green Climate Fund is a fund within the framework of the UNFCCC founded as a mechanism to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change.

While looking at the funding opportunities for the low carbon growth, Okonjo-lwela expressed the need for the continent to develop resilience to the prevailing climate related impacts. “The African risk capacity is one of the ways,” she said.

The African Risk Capacity is African solution under the Africa Union, where countries pay insurance premiums for weather based events. “When an event is triggered there is a payout

So far, Mauritania, Mali and Senegal have already benefited from the initiative which cushions climate change related impacts.

Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, an eminent climate economist urged African countries to embrace partnership with Asian countries for financial development. “You have to think about partnering with Asia, because that is where the saving is,” he said. “China alone saves more than Europe and America put together.”

In the same vein, Kurt Lonsway, the manager of the Environment and Climate Change Division of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said that the bank is fully committed on green growth, and it has increased its funding for climate change.

The President of the bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, announced on Friday, October 9 that the AfDB would nearly triple its annual climate financing to reach $5 billion a year by 2020, pushing its climate spending to 40% of its total new investments by 2020.

The experts insisted on financing projects that are climate friendly at the same time phasing out fossil fuels. “Let nobody cheat you that coal is cheap,” said Stern. “It is really expensive,” he said pointing out some of the negative impacts of coal, including deaths caused through pollution.

“Dirty growth is bad development,” said Dr Fatima Denton of the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

The experts were discussing some of the possible and available opportunities Africa could explore to enhance low carbon growth in the wake of the changing climatic conditions.

“Lets not play the victim, and instead play the leader in low-carbon growth,” said Okonjo-lwela.


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