An open letter to all African Heads of State and Ministers

To all African Heads of State and Ministers,

We are writing with concern about a proposal from a technical committee of the African Union for an “African Common Position on Energy Access and Transition” to be launched at COP27.

For the reasons set out below we, the undersigned organizations, representing movements and civil society groups from across Africa, urge you to reject the proposed “common position”.

We believe that the proposed “common position”, developed by a committee made up of national energy and transportation officials:

  • Has been prepared hurriedly and without adequate consultation with scientists, experts and officials responsible for climate change and, as a result, lacks a proper scientific or evidential basis;
  • Is inconsistent with the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency and the UN Environment Programme; and lacks critical analysis about the causes of energy poverty, the energy transition required, long-term climate policy scenarios, the associated risks of stranded assets, the threat of fossil fuel production to sustainable development and much more.

We believe that the recommendation included in the proposed “common position” to make fossil fuels a “crucial part” of Africa’s short, medium and long-term energy mix:

  • Will not address the Committee’s own aims relating to energy access and transition;
  • Is inconsistent with the Paris Agreement’s climate target of 1.5 °C, the existing African Common Position on Climate Change, and the goals of COP27;
  • Risks levels of global heating with catastrophic consequences for Africa; and
  • Is inconsistent with Africa’s wider development objectives, putting Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals at risk.

We join with other organisations in supporting the Memorandum exposing and rejecting the African Union proposal for a Common Position on African Energy Access and Transition, which describes in further detail the African Union Committee’s position, and details the many concerns listed above.

The Committee’s position has been hurriedly prepared, yet is now being advanced rapidly for adoption by African Heads of State, and for endorsement by AGN, AMCEN and CAHOSCC. Despite focussing on “energy access” and “energy transition” it makes no specific recommendations to scale up renewable energy production or to provide energy to 600 million Africans who currently lack access. Instead, it prioritises the interests of the fossil fuel industry and European governments by seeking to expand fossil fuel infrastructure, production and exports.

This development comes on the back of a recent vote by the European Union to re-classify both fossil gas and nuclear energy projects as “green,” making them eligible for low-cost loans and subsidies. The underlying reason for this is the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with Europe now pivoting to Africa to achieve its own energy security. Read together, we believe there is a risk Africa’s energy investments will be skewed into producing fossil fuels for European consumption, and not energy access or transition for Africans.

In particular, the “dash for gas” in Africa is dangerous and short-sighted. Investing limited resources in fossil gas will strand assets and economies while threatening potential investments into affordable, easily deployable, accessible, much-needed renewable energy for the people.

Rather than provide Europe with more climate-damaging fossil fuels, Africa’s development agenda and the climate emergency call on us to rapidly shift away from harmful fossil fuels-based technologies towards a renewable energy future.

If adopted by our Heads of State, the proposed position could clear the way for COP27 to be used as platforms to justify a massive scaling-up of fossil gas production in Africa, distracting from the clear case for renewables, locking the continent into fossil fuels for decades to come, while also shifting dangerous nuclear technologies that Europeans do not want onto African soil.

This is a moment that requires urgent action. We believe that the AU technical committee has made a serious mistake. We are calling on you as our Heads of State and Ministers responsible for the energy and climate future of our continent to reject the proposed common position, and to instead:

  1. Announce a fossil fuel policy in line with Africa’s development interests and the recommendations of the IPCC, IEA and other scientific organisations that confirms the African Union condemns and does not support new coal, oil or gas related projects on the African continent.
  1. Foster transparent and meaningful dialogue with citizens and policy-makers across the continent to build a shared African narrative and agenda to tackle the linked challenges of climate, energy and development; and
  1. Based on this dialogue, develop a science- and evidence-based African common position on energy access and transition that prioritizes Africa’s need to urgently move away from harmful fossil fuels towards a transformed energy system that is clean, renewable, democratic and actually serves its peoples.

To see the full list of signatories, access:www.dont-gas-africa.org/open-letter

For more information and other materials, visit: www.dont-gas-africa.org

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