Thursday, 11 June 2015

Coordinating carbon

With just six months before the climate change treaty talks in Paris, Africa is battling to coordinate an effective negotiating strategy. Governments should muster the political will, says the Africa Progress Panel (APP), to push harder to defend the interests of a continent that contributes least to global warming yet suffers most from it through drought, desertification and increasingly frequent flooding.

In its latest, 180-page report, the APP, under former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, says the treaty should stipulate phasing out the estimated US$600 billion a year subsidies on fossil fuels. 'They should be pricing carbon out of the market through taxation, not subsidising a climate catastrophe,' says Annan. The European Union, China and the United States have improved their position on fossil fuels but Australia, Canada, Japan and Russia have withdrawn from serious dialogue, says the APP.

Most importantly for Africa, the report argues there should be no trade-off between growth and low-carbon development. It sets out research showing how the pioneering technology being developed for low-cost, renewable energy in storing and distributing solar, wind and mini-hydro electricity could give Africa an even bigger economic boost than the introduction of mobile telephone technology two decades ago. Priorities might include redirecting over $21 billion spent annually on subsidising loss-making utilities and electricity consumption to connecting remote areas and developing renewable energy.

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