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COP 28: Climate Colonialism and the Double Standards in Africa’s Energy Shift

COP 28: Climate Colonialism and the Double Standards in Africa’s Energy Shift

As climate talks gear up for COP28, developing nations have grown weary of the overt divergence between wealthy countries’ domestic energy security actions versus their stance on Africa’s transition. 

While pressures mount on African nations to hastily ditch hydrocarbons, Europe has scrambled to replace Russian gas, even temporarily boosting coal usage. The US has also ramped up fossil fuel output amid spiralling energy costs. 

 Yet when it comes to Africa, the narrative differs starkly. “Net zero” conditionalities are attached to financing and partnerships. New gas projects have drawn threats from Western envoys.

This contradictory positioning rings increasingly hollow to African leaders balancing economic, social and environmental priorities. Their countries face towering clean energy investment costs amid acute energy deficits. 

 Natural gas is viewed as an optimal “bridge” fuel enabling Africa’s renewable rollout while powering industrialization ambitions. With negligible historical emissions, critics argue deprived populations should not pay the price for others’ excesses.

As Senegal’s Macky Sall pointedly queried Western counterparts at COP27 – “Are we going to stop our development process…when we have found gas and oil?”. The response showcases the fraught overlap between global climate aims and local development needs.

While sharing global environmental concerns, African policymakers refuse to hamper growth prospects without commensurate support. With copious untapped solar, hydro and wind resources, the continent could become a renewable superpower.

But realising its potential requires vast capital inflows, technology transfer and private sector participation enabled by policy partnerships on mutually agreeable terms.

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As wealthy nations backslide on climate commitments when energy prices pinch, their moral grandstanding over African transitions is proving hollow. Africa demands climate justice, not climate colonialism in opaque aid-for-energy deals.

Multilateral development banks reforms are urgently needed to increase concessional financing to Africa with no string attached as currently the continent only has access to commercial financing at scale. We live in the same planet and with the speed of energy transition being compromised, sooner rather than later, West countries will be due nature’s invoice.

One can only hope that COP28 will not be yet another expensive spectacle of empty promises and non-binding commitments without delivery timelines. Africa should unite in demanding tangible climate financing and technology transfer – not more vacuous virtue signalling.

Fabio Scala



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