Crowding the private sector into Africa’s climate action
It is in the enlightened self-interest of African private sector to begin to mobilise investment capital for Africa's climate action.
The global community for climate action was spooked by the November 8 election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. The US President-elect had earned the sobriquet of “climate denier,” for his claim that climate change is a hoax. However, there is cautious optimism that his presidency will not overturn the global agenda on climate change. Hopefully, his views on climate change will change and align with reality when he settles into the Oval Office. Policymakers also believe that global climate agreements cannot be reversed easily.
In the meantime, stakeholders are pressing on with formulating strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations' agency on climate change held on November 7 – 18 in Marrakech, Morocco. At the climate talks, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, Pakistan and seven other countries ratified the December 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. A total of 111 countries, including the United States, China and Member Countries of the European Union ratified the agreement by the time COP 22 concluded.
Since the Paris accord entered into force on November 4th, quite earlier than anticipated, global action against climate change has effectively shifted to strategic programming. Therefore, in Marrakech, Canada, Germany, Mexico and the United States published their plans to significantly decarbonize their economies by 2050. A group of 47 developing nations also committed to running entirely on renewable energy sources “as rapidly as possible.”
Some of the plans are already gaining traction. Investments in renewable energy totalled $286 billion in 2015. This surpassed by 3% the previous high of renewable energy investment achieved in 2011. Data gleaned from Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016, a joint publication by United Nations Environment Programme and Bloomberg, further revealed that last year, coal and gas-fired electricity generation drew less than half the record investment made in solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.
The trend in renewable energy investment is a mixed bag, even in developing countries. China alone accounted for 55% of total investment last year; Africa's share was less than 5%. As climate change mitigation is being driven by investment in green energy, Africa is already taking the familiar position at the back seat on the 'green energy train'.
This was not unanticipated by climate policymakers. Although China is the clear leader in investment in renewables, other developing countries, in particular the lowincome countries, are not expected to be able to keep pace without international assistance. But the advanced countries appear to be reneging on their pledges to help finance both mitigation and adaptation frameworks in the developing world, including Africa. This generated some rumblings in Marrakech, with regard to the commitment by the developed countries to raise $100 billion annually by