COP21: US and UK to work together for Africa’s energy needs

8 Dec 15

The US’s Power Africa and the UK’s Energy Africa campaigns will be joining forces to help people on the continent gain access to clean energy.

The partnership was announced amid climate talks in Paris, which will set the global climate agenda from 2020 onwards. It will work to secure private investment, develop networks for cross-border power sharing in Africa and to harness geothermal resources.

UK international development minister Nick Hurd said the partnership would be crucial as “no one can tackle Africa’s energy challenge alone”.

Power Africa announced several new partnerships at the event, including work with the Norwegian government on renewable energy projects and with the International Renewable Energy Agency to expand information sharing to further renewable energy growth on the continent.

The campaign also announced a commitment of up to $10m to support a European initiative to encourage private investments in rural power projects across Africa and a joint commitment of $8m between the international development agencies USAID (US) and Sida (Sweden) to support renewable energy and agriculture in Zambia.

The United Nations and partners also launched a $5bn initiative to expand renewable energy capacity in Africa yesterday. UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon described it as a “triple-win solution” that saves money, reduces emissions and provides additional energy capacity.

Over $10bn worth of backing for the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative was also announced yesterday, with funds from the EU, Sweden and the G7. Germany, France, Sweden and Canada are the most significant contributors.

A report by the UN Environment Programme released yesterday found that actions towards renewable energy and energy efficiency in developing countries could reduce CO₂ emissions by about 1.7 gigatons a year by 2020, which it expects to grow as financing is unlocked after COP21.

But both African ministers for environment at the event and Oxfam have warned that significantly more climate finance must go towards adaptation, which the NGO estimates will only see $5-$8bn a year in the run up to 2020.

African speakers at a COP21 side event noted that, according to the OECD, only about 14% of resources mobilised for climate change is allocated for adaptation, with Africa receiving only around 4% of adaptation financing despite bearing a disproportionate burden of the adverse impacts of climate change.

At a separate event hosted by the African Development Bank, speakers echoed the criticism that climate change mitigation receives more attention than adaptation and added that finance for water will be key in working towards a prosperous Africa.

African negotiators at the conference also insisted that the final agreement, which is scheduled to be signed on Friday, should be legally binding and enshrined within international law.

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