Cape Town — An African COP. That’s that COP27 has been called, but has it lived up to its name? Vanessa Nakate has shared how the conference can ensure it walks a path that adheres to sustainable energy and adaptation to climate change.
How could this be done? The Ugandan climate activist outlined what the continent and the globe can do to ensure that “Africa’s COP” truly earned its name. “We still have a few more hours to the end of the talks and I believe that we still have momentum and the power to make the changes that we need. One of the things needed on the continent is the Loss and Damage Fund to help people who are suffering right now”, Nakate said.
She also called for more support of African nations in their goal of transitioning to renewable energy, otherwise known as a Just Energy Transition. “We need to understand the African continent doesn’t need fossil fuels for development, we need a just transition”. A just transition, according to the Paris Agreement, rests on creating decent work and quality job opportunities, and implementing climate policy in a way that is as fair and inclusive and leaves no one behind.
Nakate said that there have been discussions around gas as an economic driver however she noted that, as an energy source is not only a distraction, gas has been called a bridge from fossil fuels but if it’s a bridge, it’s a bridge to nowhere that will only lead African nations to more debt. “It will only leave Africa with stranded assets and it will leave our biodiversity and environments destroyed,” Nakate added. This follows similar concern made by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa who said in a statement: “For some developing countries who have the existing resource and infrastructure, gas will play a major role in their transition to a net zero future. For all others, developing new fossil fuel infrastructure would result in billions of stranded assets and debt for future generations.”
Nakate hoped that greater change could come from individuals, regardless of their standing, and affect not only the present but also the future, saying: “No-one is too small to make a difference. This is something that has been said by my friend and fellow activist Greta (Thunberg) and no action is too small to transform the world.”