simons1_ AMIR MAKARAFP via Getty Images_africa carbon AMIR MAKAR/AFP via Getty Images

Does Africa Deserve Green Aid?

Africa is responsible for only about 4% of global emissions, and the continent’s institutional environment impedes investment in green energy. However counterintuitive, if not outrageous, it may sound, wealthy countries should instead consider boosting investment in Africa’s carbon-intensive industries.

ACCRA – Many in the global development community are pushing for rich countries to transfer large sums of money to developing countries to help them shift to cleaner energy without impeding economic growth. This advocacy raises important economic questions that do not receive enough attention in the mainstream press.

Consider Africa. The world’s second largest continent is said to have contributed only 1% of historic carbon emissions. Today it generates only 4% of global emissions. Africa’s annual anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide equivalent total some 1.4 billion tons, 35% of which is from South Africa alone.

Africans’ carbon dioxide emissions are just 20% of the per capita global average. Yet the world needs to cut nearly ten billion tons of CO2 per annum to have any chance of meeting the 2030 target of a “maximum increase of 2° Celsius,” according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The stark reality, then, is that taking Africa all the way to net-zero emissions would burden Africans with a significant proportion of the global cost. The price of Africa’s contribution to meeting this emissions target is estimated at $1.3 trillion, which is what African leaders and their advisers are asking the rest of the world to pay.

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