Africa Can Be ‘at Heart of a Renewable Future’, Says Secretary-General in Remarks to Nairobi Climate Summit

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Africa Climate Summit, in Nairobi today:

An injustice burns at the heart of the climate crisis, and its flame is scorching hopes and possibilities here in Africa.  This continent accounts for less than 4 per cent of global emissions.  Yet it suffers some of the worst effects of rising global temperatures:  extreme heat, ferocious floods and tens of thousands dead from devastating droughts.

The blow inflicted on development is all around with growing hunger and displacement.  Shattered infrastructure.  Systems stretched to the limit.  All aggravated by climate chaos not of your making.

It is still possible to avoid the worst effects of climate change.  But only with a quantum leap in climate action.  The people of Africa — and people everywhere — need action to respond to deadly climate extremes.

First — we need far greater climate ambition, with countries hitting fast-forward and massively accelerating action to limit temperature rises and impacts.  And the largest emitters must lead the charge in line with my Climate Solidarity Pact and Acceleration Agenda.

And here from Africa, I make a very strong appeal to the large emitters, the G20 countries that are responsible for 80 per cent of the emissions that will be meeting this week in Delhi.  Assume your responsibilities.

Developed countries must commit to reaching net-zero emissions as close as possible to 2040 — and large emerging economies as close as possible to 2050, with support from developed countries to do so.

And it’s time to break our addiction to fossil fuels and invest in a just and equitable transition.  We need to see credible plans to exit coal by 2030 for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries — and by 2040 for the rest of the world.

We need ambitious renewable energy goals in line with the 1.5°C limit.  And we must bring affordable electricity to everyone on Earth — particularly in Africa — while simultaneously reaching net-zero electricity by 2035 in developed countries and 2040 elsewhere.

Second — reaching these targets requires climate justice.  Developed countries must present a clear and credible road map to double adaptation finance by 2025 as a first step towards devoting at least half of all climate finance to adaptation.

They must also keep their promise to provide $100 billion a year to developing countries for climate support and fully replenish the Green Climate Fund.  All countries must also operationalize the loss and damage fund proposed at the twenty-eighth United Nations Climate Change Conference this year.

Every person on Earth must be covered by an early warning system by 2027 — by implementing the Action Plan we launched last year.  Six out of every 10 Africans currently lack access to these systems.  The Early Warning for All Africa Action Plan launched yesterday under the leadership of the African Union will be critical to addressing this need.

More broadly, we need a course correction in the global financial system so that it supports accelerated climate action in the context of sustainable development.  We can’t achieve one without the other.

This means an international financial system that is able to provide an effective debt-relief mechanism that supports payment suspensions, longer lending terms, and lower rates.  And it means re-capitalizing and changing the business model of multilateral development banks so they can massively leverage private finance at affordable rates to help developing countries build truly sustainable economies.

The global financial system must be reformed to be an ally of developing countries as they turbocharge a just and equitable green transition that leaves no one behind.

Which brings me to my third point — making Africa a world leader in renewable energy and green growth.

This continent is rich in renewable energy potential.  Africa is home to 30 per cent of the mineral reserves that are critical to renewable and low-carbon technologies like solar power, electric vehicles and battery storage.

Of course, we must not repeat the mistakes of the past.  To truly benefit all Africans, the production and trade of these critical minerals must be sustainable, transparent and just across every link of the supply chain, with maximum added value produced within African countries.

African leadership is also helping to generate innovative green economies anchored in renewable power.  From the Greater Horn of Africa, where over 85 per cent of electricity generation comes from renewables, including massive hydropower projects in Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan.  To wind and solar projects in Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.  To Mozambique, which gets nearly 100 per cent of its energy from green and sustainable sources.  To the increased installation of large-scale solar projects — including in South Sudan.

At the same time, Africa is home to 60 per cent of the world’s best solar resources — but only 2 per cent of global investments in renewable energy over the last two decades.  Now is the time to bring together African countries with developed countries, financial institutions and technology companies to create a true African Renewable Energy Alliance.

With adequate access to financial resources at a reasonable cost and technological support, renewables could dramatically boost economies, grow new industries, create jobs and drive development — including by reaching the over 600 million Africans living without access to power.

Renewable energy could be the African miracle, but we must make it happen.  We must all work together for Africa to become a renewable energy superpower.

Just as the injustices of climate change burn fiercely here in Africa, so do the opportunities.  I’m convinced that Africa can be at the heart of a renewable future.

This Summit and the solutions being discussed here represent a big step forward.  But your countries must not be alone in this journey.

At the end of this month, I will hold, on the way to the twenty-eighth United Nations Climate Change Conference, a Climate Ambition Summit to summon the world’s attention and committed action to climate change and the need to support developing countries as they transition to a renewable future.

Ambition in mitigation must be in parallel with ambition in climate justice.  Now is the time for all countries to stand as one in defence of our only home.  Let’s deliver the climate justice that Africans, the world, and the planet we share demand and deserve.

For information media. Not an official record.