Hecklers protested the U.S. event on fossil fuels but nobody bothered the Africans when they promoted the role of oil and gas in national development.
The event was led by the African Development Bank (AfDB), which earlier this year broke with the ever-green World Bank and announced that it will now fund coal-fired power projects. As AfDB put it, “we have to use what we have” and this is true of oil and gas as well as coal.
A number of African countries are rich in fossil fuel resources and they intend to develop these, in order to develop their economies and provide for their people. Mind you the Africans are also aggressively active in the Paris Agreement negotiations, which they also see as a potential source of funding for development. They are pushing hard on the finance front.
But as with many developing countries, Paris lip service does not interfere with their use of coal, oil and gas. In fact since the World Bank pulled out, China has become the world leader in financing and building coal-fired electric power plants. Now the African Development Bank is also in the coal, oil and gas game. This is great news for a lot of poor people.
Here is the official report of the event. Of course it is couched in terms of Paris Agreement nonsense, but the meaning is clear. We have oil and gas and we intend to use it.
Managing Carbon Risks and Raising Climate Ambition New Policy Approaches for Countries with Fossil Fuels
Presented by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Chatham House
The side event aimed to draw attention to carbon risks across a range of policy areas, including energy, industrial, and long-term development planning. Presenters highlighted areas in policy and practice where development assistance can help countries overcome barriers to transitioning and building carbon resilience into long-term planning.
Glada Lahn, Energy, Environment, and Resources Department, Chatham House, moderated the event, and noted that the elephant in the room at COP 24 is the role of oil and gas in development in the context of the Paris Agreement. She highlighted global discussions around raising economies out of poverty via oil and gas extraction in order to spur growth and development, and stressed the risks posed by the fossil fuel market in transitioning to a low carbon economy.
Siân Bradley, Energy, Environment, and Resources Department, Chatham House, noted that there is a high expectation from countries on the role of oil and gas in their economies, highlighting a current reassessment of their value in the global economy. She underscored that the linkages between the oil and gas sector and the wider economy may deliver a shared value under Business-as-Usual, whereas they would deliver a shared risk towards the economy under a 1.5-degree goal scenario. She stressed the need to have a joint approach to carbon risks, adding that there is no point in pursuing climate solutions that undermine governance and socioeconomic stability.
Chebet Maikut, Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda, noted that Uganda has prioritized oil and gas as key sectors to spark socioeconomic development in the country. He stressed that his country needs to learn lessons from producer countries and highlighted his countrys commitment to reduce emissions from oil and gas by 22% by 2030.
Rose Mwebaza, African Natural Resources Center of the AfDB, highlighted Nigeria as a good case study for including oil and gas emissions reduction measures in their Nationally Determined Contribution. She noted, however, that the NDC showed what to achieve but not how to achieve it, drawing attention to the lack of a carbon strategy to implement these reductions. She urged for the exchange of knowledge with producer countries on how to extract the resources in the least disruptive manner.
In the ensuing discussion, panelists and participants discussed issues regarding: conflicts between biodiversity conservation and resource extraction, noting that Uganda’s petroleum reserves overlapping with 80% of the country’s protected areas; the implications of transitioning to low carbon development, considering the heavy dependence of transport systems on fossil fuels; whether subsidies for oil and gas compete with renewable energy; and the role of the insurance industry
Rose Mwebaza, African Natural Resources Center of the AfDB