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- We have turned Africa’s green agenda into a Bingo card for COP28
We have turned Africa’s green agenda into a Bingo card for COP28
A serious question: Will the main points of the Nairobi Declaration (aka Africa’s climate plan) be addressed in Dubai over the next two weeks? Please keep the card to track progress…
1. 🚁 Heli view: Why COP28 is a decisive moment for Africa
Earlier this year, the continent proposed itself as a valuable partner in global climate action.
The bargain: In turn, African governments asked richer nations to invest in climate solutions on the continent.
They offered commercial transactions that benefit everyone, including nature.
Forget victimhood and past disagreements, leaders declared, embracing a “new narrative”.
They described climate action as a "multi-billion-dollar" investment opportunity on the continent.
At stake: This new agenda, the first of its kind, was designed specifically with COP in mind, given it’s growing size and influence.
Crunch time: The shape of Africa’s future could now hang on the outcome of COP. Climate solutions being proposed by Africa might:
Create prosperity via the green economy
And uplift millions of lives via climate jobs
Or they might not
Listen carefully: COP28 will give us a first glimpse of whether non-African nations are willing to engage and make the continent the climate partner it wants to be.
Will the West accept the need to link climate action and prosperity in Africa?
Will other developing nations endorse the idea of “climate-positive growth”?
Lots to offer: Africa is in a strong negotiating position as it does not come empty handed.
Check the details: Over the next two weeks at COP, we’ll look for exactly who supports which parts of Africa’s agenda.
The roadmap: African needs and asks are formally codified in the Nairobi Declaration signed by members of the African Union.
The declaration will guide actions by African governments at COP.
The details are laid out in our bingo card. Do print it out and track progress.
Reality check: Not everything will be possible. The declaration calls for an increase in Africa’s renewables capacity from 56 GW in 2022 to at least 300 GW by 2030.
A recent study identifies weak and inadequate grid infrastructure as a critical barrier to scaling renewables.
Homework done: Nonetheless, Africa is likely to score some wins. On the agenda are:
A $100 billion climate finance pledge
A loss and damage fund
Progress on ending fossil fuel dominance
Operationalising carbon markets globally
In sum: COP matters to Africa – however, Africa also matters to COP.
A sustainable world economy is not possible without the fastest-growing continent.
2. Will batteries remain the stepchild of Africa’s green economy?
A cynic might say that power storage is the great green hope of Africa – and always will be.
The hope: Storing electricity for use at the right moment could be a game-changer. Ubiquitous battery banks could fix perpetual problems on the continent:
Batteries can smooth out low, varying and failing electricity generation.
They also compensate for a lack of grid connections in remote areas.
And unlike hydro storage, batteries offer electricity in a readily usable state.
But, but: Aspects of technology and economics have so far refused to play along.
Africa has a fraction of 1% of the world’s battery capacity.
Lithium-ion batteries are costly and have a relatively short storage duration.
Unclear regulations and competition from richer markets put off global providers.
The news: Three major countries in Africa this month announced mammoth battery projects.
Turning point: Is this one? There are reasons to believe it could be:
Lithium-ion battery costs have decreased by 85% since 2010.
Innovators are exploring alternative materials for energy storage (vanadium, iron, bromine and sodium) to boost affordability and longevity.
The technology: When nations speak of batteries they don’t mean the kind you buy in a store. They mean a BESS, or Battery Energy Storage System, the size of a factory.
It uses lithium-ion technology that’s far more advanced than household batteries.
It can balance grid loads, ensuring reliable power supply during peak hours.
The challenges: Fundamental hurdles to large-scale battery adoption have changed little.
Lithium-ion batteries at grid-scale remain costly despite falling prices.
Battery volatility poses fire risks, impacting user safety.
Some lithium mining can undermine water resources and human rights.
The future: The global grid-scale battery sector aims for nearly 400 GWh annually by 2030, or nearly ten times the current 43 GWh.
Molten salt thermal storage tech is set to launch by 2025, extending storage duration.
Innovation will be key to achieving Africa’s hopes for the humble battery.
3. Profile: Climate leader with answers
Ezekiel Nyanfor, 25, founder and executive director of Liberian Youth for Climate Action (LYCA)
Lockdown for many people was a time of isolation, introspection and taking on new hobbies – many of them short-lived. Not so for Ezekiel Nyanfor. The young Liberian studying public health remembers it as a time of spiritual and intellectual awakening. When classes moved online, he chose to skip a semester and take a deep dive into educating himself about the climate crisis via the internet. Every day he read about the Paris Agreement, the UNFCCC framework, the Kyoto Protocol and other international agreements.
In early 2020, he and a small group of like-minded friends founded the Liberian Youth for Climate Action (LYCA), a movement that aims to focus on education, eliminating waste, planting trees, promoting ecological renewal and sustainable livelihoods. Starting an energetic reforestation drive in five communities, he hoped the movement would spread to the whole country.
“Liberia has a unique advantage in discussions about climate change,” he says. It is home to the second-largest expanse of upper Guinean forest in Africa. “Essentially we function as the world’s third lung, along with the Congo basin and the Amazon rainforest.” Three years on, Nyanfor is one of Liberia’s leading young climate activists and developing a toolkit to help other young Liberians become climate ambassadors. “Their task will be to educate young people on what it means to love and to cherish the benefits of nature.”
4. Media monitoring
Carbon market: The Johannesburg Stock Exchange launches a platform for carbon credits and renewable energy certificates.
New barriers; Africa and Europe clash over the EU's carbon border tax plans.
Tea cup: Storm clouds appeared over McKinsey’s participation in Africa’s climate agenda.
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Thanks to the Green Rising team for putting this together.