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  • Writer's picturebird story agency

'A just transition, not just a transition': Africa's ultimatum on fossil fuels

Updated: Nov 19, 2022

"A just transition, and not just a transition" is Africa's declaration at COP27 as states vowed not to dissever their economies from fossils unless alternatives exist.

Seth Onyango, bird story

As the UN climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh enter the homestretch, African lobbyists and dealmakers are pushing for a fair shake of the continent's energy systems from fossils- but not at the expense of economic development.

The PanAfrican Parliament, the legislative body of the African Union (AU), has vowed to block any attempts at a rushed phasing down of fossils without giving the continent an alternative energy source.

PanAfrican Parliament President Fortune Charumbira said that Africa's tough stance was to secure energy security for millions across the continent.

PanAfrican Parliament President Fortune Charumbiraat COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh. Photo : Seth Onyango, bird story agency

"The issue of fossil fuel phase down cannot come without other major commitments being delivered. In short, there are winners and losers. There are promises to support those countries that lose out in implementing some of these decisions," he said.

Charumbira added that the AU will host a meeting in May 2023 to deliberate on the various issues of energy transition and loss damage in Africa ahead of COP28 in Dubai.

"We have to be realistic, it is one thing to talk at COP27 and another for a specific country to then take the consequences of these decisions. So fossils fuels will remain a reality in terms of use until we have financed the alternative to fossils."

Pan-African Parliament vice-president Lucia Passos echoed Charumbira's sentiments asserting that there can be no transition in Africa which doesn't factor in the needs of its vast populations.

"If you don't help solve the problem, then you can't dictate how we eat, do agriculture, light our homes and power our industries," she said on the sidelines of the Parliament press briefing.

On the other hand, Uganda is blunter, arguing it should be facilitated to sustainably explore oil and gas resources.

In his opening address at COP27, president and Egypt's foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, set the tone for Africa's energy transition, saying it should include the economies' capacities and resources.

Shoukry stressed the importance of scaling up climate ambitions according to states' capacities, casting a spotlight on the content's stranded carbon resources on the back of increasing energy demand.

"The current level of ambition is not up to the Paris goals…For the sake of an efficient implementation of pledges and commitments, we need more efficient and wider participation by all relevant parties," he stated at the opening of COP27.

"We have constantly called for moving from negotiations and pledges to an era of implementation as a priority as well as the acceleration of the implementation of what we have agreed upon with the UNFCCC promoted in the parties accord and the work programme while stating the importance of scaling up ambitions and aligning them to country's capacities and resources."

Shoukry's push for a vertical transition is geared to ensure Africa's green energy pivot does not come at a huge economic cost for the continent.

The COP27 president parties can help unlock innovative financing schemes that will help low-income states add large quantities of renewable energy while rapidly building out grid and distribution infrastructure.

But for Africa to abandon their massive fossil resources, states want heavily polluting states to green financing and tech transfer to help the continent leapfrog dirty fuels.

Currently, Africa contributed under 4 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2017 despite constituting 17 per cent of the world's population, making it the least polluter.

bird story agency


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