African civil societies protest European Union’s climate change projects

African climate change Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) are strongly protesting European Union’s (EU) action of imposing Africa Renewable Energy Initiatives (AREI) climate change projects tipped to access the USD 10 billion Green Climate Fund (GCF).

AREI operating under the African Union (AU) mandate and endorsed by the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) is charged with facilitating access to energy that will enable African states to leapfrog towards renewable energy systems that will support low carbon development strategies while enhancing economic and energy security. Presidents of Kenya, Egypt, Chad, Namibia and Guinea sit on its board.

GCF is an EU and G7 initiative that emerged out of the 2015 Paris, France Conference of Parties (COP 21) that brought together 194 states that outlined strategies to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions to between 1.5 and 2 per cent in developing countries.

Consequently, in show of solidarity the climate change civil society organizations have teamed up to unanimously reject the 19 identified projects on the continent and demanded for a fresh inclusive and participatory process in identifying new projects.

Led by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and Africa Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access (ACSEA), the CSO’s from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Nigeria aver that the process by the European Union was devoid of public participation, condescending and favored the Francophone Africa than other regions.

The organizations are therefore lobbying for a transformative African-owned and Africa led inclusive effort that will accelerate and scale up the harnessing of the continent’s renewable energy potential.

PACJA CEO Mwenda Mithika noted that AREI required to be granted more independence of developing a criteria that should be adhered to and veto power while identifying projects to be funded from the GCF kitty.

The imposing of these projects by EU is tantamount to intimidation, blackmail, it’s an insult and contemptuous, lamented Mithika during an Eastern African Consultative workshop on AREI and Energy Access held in Nairobi on Monday.

He said 55 per cent of the 19 projects are located in West Africa, 18 per cent Central Africa and DRC, 15 per cent from East Africa and 5.7 per cent from South Africa, completely locking out North Africa.

This is not representative at all as it seems the project identification was dictated by geopolitical interests rather than being driven by real felt needs on the continent, Mithika complained adding that similarly the projects will gallop over USD 300 million dollars denying the rest of the continent access for the funds.

The CSO’s are therefore lobbying for an AREI that will have the power to select proposals and prioritize the criteria for policy development, ensure overall balance of projects and granting of voting power to CSO’s in the steering committee.

Executive Secretary Bio-resources Development and Conservation Program and National Coordinator Augustine Njamnishi said Africa CSO’s in climate change will not agree to decisions that are quick fixed,catapulted and pushed down her throat from abroad.

As a continent we need to come up with a single voice lobbying for the African cause through participatory and bottom-up approaches, he advised, adding that political turf wars were hampering the smooth take off of AREI.

Njamnishi suggested expansion of the AREI to accommodate interests of indigenous groups, other non-state stakeholders and mainstream gender perspectives noting that this will provide more impetus and enviable enriching knowledge on Renewable Energy.

He also called for an AREI that espouse some principles of good governance such as clarity and transparency, participation, accountability and capacity.

Benson Ireri of Christian Aid Climate change and Renewable Energy department said AREI intends to achieve at least 10GW of new and additional energy generation capacity by 2020 and mobilize 300 GW by 2030.

He rsaid that over 4 million people from developing countries dieannually from illness attributable to the house hold air pollution (HAP) from cooking with solid fuels adding that any initiatives developed on the continent must be aligned to the implementation of the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).

To achieve SDG no 7 on affordable and clean energy and SDG no 13 that calls for climate action, it is strongly incumbent upon African governments to identify renewable energy projects that will support production to achieve SDG goal 1 on ending poverty in all its forms, Ireri observed.

He chided development partners for their top-down approach in development matters in the rural parts of the continent arguing that despite widespread poverty, the populations held apt solutions to their predicament.

According to ACSEA, though the African continent has abundant Renewable Energy (RE) resources, the potential for the generation of clean and sustainable electricity has not been realized yet.

Approximately 622 million out of the 922 million people living on the continent still lack access to energy, ACSEA writes in its May 2017 report adding that the continent’s electricity mix is still dominated by fossil fuels, especially oil, coal and gas as well as large hydroelectric plants.

Source: Kenya News Agency