How the concept of shared emissions can help Africa in the long run.


Herders draw water from a well in Mauritania (Photo: Oxfam International/Flickr)

Almost every article you will come across on climate financing in Africa starts in the same tone, If you have been following up on green financing trends in Africa, it won’t fascinate you to know that Africa constitutes only about 2% of over $1 trillion dollar worth of Green bond issuance from 2014 to 2020 despite it being one of the most vulnerable continents in the world to climate change (IPCC). The continent loses 4 million hectares of forest yearly which is twice the world’s average deforestation rate, the continent’s coastal areas continue to confront problems associated with oil and mineral extraction, uncontrolled fishing, mismanagement of mangrove forests, and coastal development.

CPI estimates that Africa requires $277 billion dollars annually to implement its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and meet its 2030 climate goals. However, the most recent data show annual climate finance stands at only $30 billion. Global climate finance has grown rapidly over the past few years, reaching record levels of $632 billion between 2019 and 2020, although it still falls short of what is needed to achieve the Paris Agreement. In addition, the majority of climate finance originating from developed countries is spent on domestic projects. The Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) estimated that only 25% of 2019/2020 tracked climate investments crossed the borders, while 75% were reinvested domestically.

Why does Africa experience a shortfall in Green financing

Since 2009, developed countries have committed to mobilizing $100 billion per year for adaptation and mitigation projects in developing countries. Yet this promise has never been fully delivered, despite the historical responsibility of developed countries in global warming and the marginal contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, estimated at around 4%, of the African continent. Many African countries remain highly dependent on commodity exports, including fossil fuels, this makes them less willing to intensify efforts towards a green energy transition, so the only way to get them hitting the road is by making available access to climate financing. But how can Africans have access to green financing when their infrastructural plans and initiatives lag behind compared to their peers?

It is definitely not going to be an easy ride for Africa in its quest for transition and sustainability, as we all know, Africa’s contribution to the share of global climate financing is meager if at all there is. we need to stop looking at Climate transition from the short-run cost perspective, we need to weigh the long-term benefits of a sustainable environment. What are the externalities attached to operating a fossil-fuel-based economy and how can we help ourselves? When we take a look at the world’s major contributors to climate financing (Germany, Japan, EU institutions, the UK, and France), we will realize that they are all highly industrialized economies. What this means is that the bulk of their funds come from the proceeds of their industrial activity. Many African countries haven’t attained that stage of industrialization and as such financing is a headache.

Recommended Solutions to Climate Financing in Africa

When we talk about climate change; there are a lot of factors that contribute to climate degradation, these include transportation, industrialization, real estate buildings, human activities, deforestation, and many more. Eliminating carbon emissions entirely is not realistic as far as human activities are concerned. That is why we have to adopt a path to reduction. And one way we could do that is by shared emission. Let me explain; It is being said that Africa contributes just 3% to global warming yet we get very little financing. What I can deduce from this statement is the fact that Africa is less industrialized. This means that it has to ship the bulk of its commodities to industrialized nations for processing and then ship them back to Africa for consumption, what this also means is that Africa imports a lot from the developed countries. This shipment occurs through the sea and air thereby contributing to carbon emissions.

What if Africa builds its own industries? Concept of Shared emission

This is where the concept of shared Emission comes in, Africa needs to embrace industrialization and reduce the carbon emission value chain created when we export commodities and import processed goods. Shared emission is when Africa takes responsibility for emitting its own carbon and generates profit so doing. That way it would be able to finance projects aimed at building a sustainable environment for its people.

What happens if Africa becomes industrialized? Industries in developed countries will experience a decline in industrial demand from Africa thereby resulting in a decline in production activities which will in turn decrease carbon emissions in their countries, on the other hand will witness an increase in carbon emissions as a result of increased industrial activities, however, this time it is generating profits and boosting economic prosperity.

Practicalizing the concept of Shared emissions will help Africa generate the required capital needed to fund its own climate financing without necessarily increasing global emissions. One question I always ask myself is “Why should Africa suffer from climate change when it contributes less to global emissions without being compensated?” When it can compensate for itself by accounting for its own share of the emissions. Bear in mind that, I am not in any way advocating for an increased carbon emission but a shared one.

As Africans, we cannot continue to wallow in self-pity and beg for finance while also suffering from the consequences of activities we know little about but benefit from and spend our resources on. We can’t sit relaxed and expect the West and developed economies to bring the change we desire. The African continent is rich in renewable energy sources, though many of them remain heavily underutilized today. In a recent report, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the AfDB (African Development Bank) estimate the continent’s solar photovoltaic (PV) technical potential at 7,900 GW, suggesting Africa possesses some of the globe’s greatest potential for solar power generation. What we need is the right financing to harness these potentials.


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