Africa needs technology, not money from China and others for climate action

A climate change and environmental researcher, Mr Raymond Aitibasa Atanga has explained in clear terms what Africa and probably other developing countries need from their rich and powerful friends, China, the United States and Europe. Africa and other developing nations have been dependent on external funding to drive climate action. However, the funding has been multiple times slower than the promises to provide the funding.

President Xi Jinping 2015 during a state visit to the USA pledged to make available 20 billion Yuan (approx. US$3.1 billion) to developing nations, otherwise known as the Global South to tackle climate change. The administration has only made available 2 billion yuan ($310 million), just 10% of that so far.

Xi Jinping and Barack Obama in California in 2015
Xi Jinping and Barack Obama in California in 2015 Source: Climate Change News

The United States together with several other developed countries in 2009 during COP15 pledged to mobilize 100 billion USD per year by 2020 for climate action in developing countries. Floated by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown months before COP15, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced the pledge. She said the fund will be for the “poorest and most vulnerable”. During COP21, the signatory countries reaffirmed their commitment and agreed that the fund should be made available each year from 2020 to 2025. Beautifully planned, the fund would be divided into two; 50 per cent for mitigation efforts and the remainder for adaptation per the agreement.

Not to fault them, the funding has not been up to expectations so far. Since 2013, the target of 100 billion USD has not been met even once. The closest was in 2021 when they mobilized 89.6 billion USD, according to OECD. This has left developing countries including those in Africa grappling uncontrollably with the grave impacts of climate change.

Responding to a question on how Africa can stand up to take action against climate change given that the developed nations have not shown enough commitment to helping countries such as those in Africa to combat climate, Mr Atanga said Africa does not need to wait for anyone though the continent can demand climate justice.

“Floods don’t wait for Europeans. African floods don’t wait for Europeans. African droughts don’t wait for Europeans. African heat do not wait for Europeans so why should African leaders wait for Europeans? This thing about dependency is killing us. For the sake of justice…Africa emits less. We have not played [part in] any way to the current problems that we have in the world regarding climate change. It is from American and European emissions, industrialization that has taken us to where we are.”

He said Africa needs to take advantage of what it has. According to him the Sahara desert which generates so much wind during the harmattan season can be used to generate energy to power the many homes in Africa that do not have electricity. Africa could also tap into its clean energy potential and seek technological partnerships with others such as China to tackle climate change.

According to him, climate change has no national borders so it is time for Africa to consider climate change from a regional perspective and develop regional infrastructure which would have greater influence than efforts of individual nations. “We have so much potential, they are telling us that alone can produce enough electricity using wind and solar to power itself, the entire Africa and also power the entire Europe. So we have the potential and I think that this quest to seek assistance from the Europeans and Americans and even the Chinese should be technology, we want technology transfer. Let us transfer the best technologies for adaptations so that we can do things by ourselves,” he stated.

A brief about our guest, Raymond Aitibasa Atanga

 Mr Raymond Aitibasa Atanga is a lecturer at the Department of Environmental Science at the C. K. Tedam University of Technology and Applied Sciences and a researcher with interests in environmental planning, climate change, social policy and sustainable development which you can follow at Atanga’s publications. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE), Beijing, China and has authored several papers centring on Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Mr Atanga appeared as a guest on the maiden edition of a yet-to-be-aired series by africansonchina which discusses issues around the world with a specific focus on the African-China space. He was speaking on the theme: Navigating the Intersections: Climate Change, COP28, and China-Africa Relations.

Editor Notes:

Africa has a vast potential for green energy resources. While much of it is untapped, the continent has already started exporting green energy to some European countries with plans underway to construct more submarine cables to ship power to Europe.

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