Africa: threats and opportunities before COP27

By Carlos Roa

Africa is facing the most severe effects of climate change as the Conference of the Parties, or COP27, kicks off in Egypt next month.

A new report from the World Meteorological Organization points to water stress and hazards such as withering droughts and devastating floods “that are hitting African communities, economies, and ecosystems hard.” At the same time, Africa’s population is surpassing 1.4 billion people. That’s 17% of the world’s population.

A huge land mass, which has emitted such small amounts of carbon, accounts for only 2-3% of global emissions, according to the UN. On the other hand, they have not taken advantage of the wealth the combustion of fossil fuels has provided on other continents.

Its 11.7 million square kilometers and 54 nations are more defenseless against dry seasons, tidal waves, tropical storms, and rainfall episodes with ups and downs. In addition, deforestation is another major threat.

It is unavoidable to talk about it when almost 200 countries will gather in Egypt, an African country, in early November for the COP27. COP26, held last year in Glasgow, declared then that it was the “last chance ” to keep global warming below 1.5℃ this century.

Since then, emissions have reached record levels following the decline of COVID. And this year alone we have witnessed an alarming number of natural disasters.

Glimpses of hope

However, African leaders are far from wanting to be seen as victims. What’s more, they are bringing to the table answers that can be useful across the world.

Wangari Muchiri, director of Africa WindPower, reminded attendees at the World Wind Energy Council that South Africa should be proud to be leading the way among sub-Saharan African countries in terms of new wind farm development.

“Look at what is possible, when you see South Africa taking leaps and bounds with new bid windows coming up every few years. With six million people without electricity on the continent, wind power is really a key technology that we can use,” Muchirai told the audience.

South Africa’s Nojoli coastal wind farm supplies power to 86,000 homes and avoids producing 251,000 tons of CO2 per year.

GWEC was established in 2005 to provide a credible and representative forum for the entire wind energy sector internationally.

The organization claims Africa is capable of meeting its energy needs with wind, noting that the continent only harnesses 0.01% of its capacity in relation to this resource.

Moreover, the forests of the Congo Basin comprise almost half of the world’s vegetation carbon. Intact tropical forests represent a carbon sink at a higher level than other types of vegetation.

This area of swamp forest is estimated to hold 29 billion metric tons of carbon, which is the amount emitted globally by burning fossil fuels in three years.

The fact that Africa is in the spotlight for the COP27 Conference is an appropriate time to point out their needs, but also to learn about their amazing capabilities.

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