Experts warn that Africa must abandon gas exploration in order to avoid climate disaster

Africa has almost limitless potential for wind (110 GW), abundant hydro (350 GW), geothermal energy sources (15 GW), and solar capacity (10 TW).  According to the IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency), renewable energy capacity in Africa might reach 310 GW by 2030, putting the continent at the frontline of renewable energy output internationally.

Africa has enormous potential to become a low-carbon and climate-resilient continent, with appealing investment opportunities in climate-smart agriculture, climate-smart infrastructure, and sustainable natural resource management. China has recently shown a strong desire to make financial assets in Africa.

To avoid global disaster and provide renewable power to the millions who lack it, Africa must adopt renewable energy and abandon exploration of potentially lucrative gas resources, according to renowned specialists on the continent. The call came as UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that drilling for oil and gas anywhere in the globe would be “delusory.” As global gas prices rise, numerous African leaderships are considering pushing for fresh exploration investment. Some European nations are likewise eager to offer such investment to replace Russian supplies.

Mary Robinson, a former Irish president, UN climate envoy and UN commissioner for human rights sparked controversy last week when she endorsed an advancement, saying African nations should use their gas riches. She said that rather than being exported for profit, the gas could be used inside the continent for safe cooking and electricity production for the 600 million individuals who do not have access to electricity and the 900 million who cook with biomass or dirty oil.

Robinson was incorrect, according to Mohamed Adow, who is the Power Shift Africa thinktank director and the 2020 recipient of the Climate Breakthrough Prize. “We cannot depend on the broken system from the last 200 years to provide Africans with the dignity that electricity access should bring.  We must leapfrog our thinking and invest in distributed renewable energy systems which will not poison our rivers, pollute our air, strangle our lungs, and benefit only a few,” he told the Guardian.

He distinguished between voices from the West as well as those from Africa, saying, “Climate justice warriors who actually reside in Africa are indeed very explicit that we want access to modern energy services for everyone – but we also do not want to box in climate catastrophe for everyone.”

Nnimmo Bassey, who is the Health of Mother Earth Foundation director in Nigeria, accompanied him. “Decades of gas and oil extraction on the continent have only muddied the water, formed violence, and left the individuals in the cold and in the dark,” he said, citing the experiences of the Niger Delta, Mozambique and Nigeria, which were defined by pollution and greediness by a few while the local residents remained impoverished.

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