Africans contribute the least to the climate crisis but suffer the most

The Independent

The UK creates clean energy systems at home, while shackling poorer nations with dirty fossil fuels – now is the time for rich countries to support Africa’s clean energy transition, writes Mohamed Adow

This week the UK pledged to cut its emissions by 78 per cent by 2035. Crucially, it included the polluting industries of shipping and aviation in its sixth carbon budget. But setting targets is much easier than meeting them and currently the UK is not on track to meet its fifth carbon budget.

While some progress is being made at home to usher in a green, clean future for Britain, those of us overseas are keen to see the hosts of this year’s Cop26 climate summit using their international leadership role to encourage this clean energy revolution elsewhere too.

For too long the UK has funded, and profited from, the expansion of fossil fuels in my continent of Africa.  While it was reaping the benefits of decarbonising its own energy system it was shackling poorer nations with dirty fossil fuel infrastructure, which the world must now move away from.

Africans have done the least to cause the climate crisis and yet are suffering the most from it. In fact, we make up 17 per cent of the world’s population but have contributed to just 4 per cent of global emissions between 1990 and 2017.  All we’re asking for now is help from rich polluters so we can leapfrog the dirty development path and harness clean energy.

There are plenty of examples of what this could look like. Under Barrack Obama’s Power Africa programme, the US helped create one of the fastest built solar farms in Rwanda as well as the first wind power project in Senegal. The UK’s Department for International Development, which Boris Johnson has closed, launched a campaign in 2015 under David Cameron to help boost uptake of off-grid solar in Africa. This was a welcome recognition of the potential of renewables to bring electricity to the remotest places where grid infrastructure can’t reach.

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