By Adedapo Adesanya
Energy stakeholders have urged African countries, including Nigeria, the continent’s largest crude producer, to reject all anti-fossil fuel policies that may arise at discussions at the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
They called on African countries to fiercely defend the role oil and gas play across the continent, adding that it has become clear that developed nations seem committed to phasing out fossil fuels, advocating for an anti-fossil fuel energy transition that does not take into account the needs of the developing world.
For instance, the African Energy Chamber (AEC) warned that if endorsed, this approach would cause detrimental impacts on Africa’s economies as the continent has not only contributed the least to global greenhouse gas emissions – less than 2 per cent – but faces the worst impacts from climate change, owing largely to the actions taken by developed countries for centuries.
The Chamber said, “Phasing out fossil fuels and opting for a ‘Western approach’ to the energy transition is simply not an option for Africa.”
By phasing out fossil fuels, Africa will not only reduce its inconsequential emissions but essentially phase out energy in almost its entirety. The main sources of energy in Africa are oil (42 per cent), gas (28 per cent) and coal (22 per cent), it said in a statement.
“If Africa were to phase out these resources, it would be transitioning from dawn to darkness,” it added.
On his part, Mr Haitham Al Ghais, Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), issued a similar remark, urging member countries to reject any agreements that target fossil fuels during the climate negotiations.
He, instead, advocated for focus to be placed on reducing emissions rather than reducing energy.
“It seems that the undue and disproportionate pressure against fossil fuels may reach a tipping point with irreversible consequences, as the draft decision still contains options on fossil fuels phase out,” Mr Al Ghais noted.
“What we will continue to advocate for is reducing emissions, not choosing energy sources. The world requires major investments in all energies, including hydrocarbons, all technologies, and an understanding of the energy needs of all people. Energy transitions must be just, fair and inclusive,” he added.
This was echoed by Mr NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the AEC, who noted that at COP27 which was held in Egypt in 2022, he advocated that Africa is trying to take the same path as wealthy countries that have used these resources to develop and position themselves financially and infrastructurally ready to transition away from fossil fuels.
“Last year, I wrote that I was going to COP 27 because I believe that if Africa is not on the table, it will be on the menu. It is unfortunate that a year on, we have seen little to no progress by Western nations to take into account the developmental needs of Africa. A year on, we are faced with the same threat: developed nations telling the world to abandon fossil fuels, thereby abandoning any chances of economic growth.
“Africa cannot afford to adopt the western-centric energy transition. Doing so would eliminate any chance of making energy poverty history, of industrializing economies and improving the lives of millions of people,” he stated.
“The green agenda promoted by the wealthy nations continues to ignore how instrumental oil and gas are in Africa. Climate panic and fear-mongering continue to be alive and well, and Africa should remain strong in its commitment to utilizing oil and gas for the betterment of its people,” Mr Ayuk added.