G7 Leaders, take a stand for Africa!

(EurActiv, 24 Aug 2019) Africa is still heavily reliant on coal. To protect the climate, leading industrialised countries should help Africa to invest in clean growth and leapfrop to renewables, says former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Raila Amolo Odinga is a Kenyan politician who served as the Prime Minister of Kenya from 2008 to 2013 and is leader of the opposition since 2013. He is currently the African Union’s High Representative for infrastructure development in Africa.

In June of this year, the small seaside town of Lamu in Kenya was catapulted onto the global stage. Kenyan courts halted a Government of Kenya and Chinese backed coal power plant from being constructed, ruling that the plant lacked a comprehensive impact assessment. If the plant went ahead and got built it would increase Kenyan emissions by 700%.

While this ruling is clearly a set back to the plans by the government to spur growth through access to cheap electricity, it is nonetheless a challenge to the country to do much more and provide cleaner energy for its growth needs. The ruling which is a big win for anti-coal campaigners, was also a warning to global investors that all parts of the world deserve green growth and we must jointly invest in it. No part of the world, rich or poor, north, or south deserves less.

Kenya is not alone in attempting to develop coal plants. While coal is a dirty word to some, Africa is still heavily reliant on it. According to recent data, new coal power stations are being developed in 18 African countries and nearly all are fueled by foreign investment. This surge is largely to fill the energy access gap – a majority of the 1 billion people lacking electricity access live in rural Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. But in the long run, coal is only making our situation worse.

We know that climate change hits the most vulnerable first and worst: Worldwide 100 million people are already at risk of being pushed into poverty because of climate change by 2030 – particularly across Sub Saharan Africa – and 720 million by 2050. Up to 65% of the African population is likely to be impacted by the consequences of this climate crisis – even though African nations are responsible for just 2-3% of global emissions.

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EurActiv, 24 Aug 2019: G7 Leaders, take a stand for Africa!