lopes6_SIMON MAINAAFP via Getty Images_africasolarpowersustainability Simon Maina/AFP via Getty Images

Africa Must Choose Renewables Over Coal

African governments should strengthen strategies and policies aimed at encouraging the transition to a new climate economy and increasing investment in clean energy. By phasing out fossil fuels, Africa can lead by example in the global effort to combat climate change.

CAPE TOWN – African heads of state and government are convening at the annual African Union (AU) summit, and issues related to the continent’s economic growth and development are front and center. But leaders also must ensure that their growth agenda is linked to the global challenge of urgent action on climate change. This is particularly critical for Africa, which is disproportionately vulnerable to the effects of global warming: more frequent and severe tropical storms, droughts, and floods, all of which have devastated African communities and economies in recent years.

Given the climate risks Africa faces, it is perhaps not surprising to see the continent take the lead in shaping a sustainable future. Of the 108 countries that have thus far indicated that they will step up their climate commitments in 2020, as required by the Paris agreement, 47 are in Africa. They recognize the opportunities to leapfrog to a new, cleaner, more efficient growth model – and the risks of not doing so.

Moreover, in November 2019, the African Development Bank (AfDB) announced that it will not finance new coal plants in the future. This shift reflects renewable technologies’ increased competitiveness and the emergence of new business models. Combined with investments in energy-efficient appliances, equipment, housing, and commercial buildings, these developments can eliminate the need for new coal-generated power in Africa.

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