COP21: Africa calls for $55 billion annual energy investment, 1.5°C limit to global temperature rise

Compared to a decade ago, when the African continent had no common position or common negotiators at COP11 in Montreal, this year’s round of climate talks, COP21, has seen Africa take center stage. Last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that Africa’s leaders have an "enormous stake" in the success of the Paris talks, due to its vulnerability to climate change.

$150 million commitment

The comments were made ahead of the announcement by Africa’s leaders that it had launched the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), the goal of which is to achieve universal access to energy on the continent via 10 GW of new and additional renewable energy capacity by 2020, and 300 GW by 2030.

Responding to questions by pv magazine, a spokesperson for the African Development Bank (AfDB), which announced the news, said that while a pipeline of projects has not been established yet, this will be one of the first activities of AREI. "It is estimated that US$20 billion will be required for the first goal of generating an additional 10 GW of renewable energy by 2020," they said, adding, "It is expected that investment will come from a combination of public and private sources."

Following the launch of AREI, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced Canada would contribute CA$150 million to support the deployment of such renewables as solar, hydro and wind power. "Today’s announcement is part of Canada’s pledge of Can$2.65 billion over the next five years to take action on climate change in developing countries. This is the most significant Canadian climate finance contribution ever," read a government statement.

MOU

Pledging their support in helping the 645 million Africans without access to energy, the U.K. and U.S. have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will see the U.K.’s Energy Africa initiative join forces with the U.S.’s Power Africa Initiative.

Under the MOU, the two will work with African governments, donors and the private sector to, among others, boost clean energy investment, expand of-grid energy, develop networks to share power across borders and enable more women to work in the energy sector.

The U.K. has seen the number of African countries joining its initiative rising from three to six against the backdrop of COP21. Ghana, Malawi and Rwanda will now, along with Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Somalia, work with the U.K. to support the African residential solar market.

"… we must act to kick-start a solar revolution across Africa," stated Nick Hurd, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, adding, "And with the cost of solar panels falling, battery technology improving and appliances becoming more efficient, now is the time to invest. British businesses are already combining solar and mobile phone technology to bring clean energy to people in Africa."

11,000 GW potential

Overall, the AfDB has identified over 11,000 GW of renewable energy potential on the continent, comprising 11,000 GW of solar, 350 GW of hydropower, 110 GW of wind power, and 15 GW of geothermal, which can be harnessed both by Africa and other countries.

In light of this, and in return for taking climate change seriously, the AfDB has asked the world to join it in investing US$55 billion in its energy sector annually, up until 2030. It has also requested at least $11 billion in annual climate financing to help it adapt to climate change. "Only 4% of the world’s total climate finance currently ends up in Africa, a situation that demands immediate reform," wrote the AfDB.

Finally, it has called for an agreement to limit rising global temperatures to 1.5°C, instead of 2°C. "Limiting the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius is not enough: we stand with the International Panel on Climate Change in wanting a revised target of 1.5 degrees."