Renewable energy access key to climate adaptation in Africa, says UN chief

Xinhua
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres believes that renewable energy is crucial to support climate adaptation in Africa. 
Xinhua

Support for climate adaptation in Africa is crucial, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday in appealing for greater action to provide renewable energy to hundreds of millions who still lack access to reliable and affordable electricity.

"As the continent that has contributed least to the climate crisis, Africa deserves the strongest possible support and solidarity," he told an online dialogue for leaders convened by the African Development Bank.

The top UN official warned that "adaptation must not be the neglected half of the climate equation."

Although Africa has abundant and untapped renewable resources, it has received just 2 percent of global investment in renewable energy over the past decade, he reported.

Old models of development and energy use have failed to provide Africans with universal energy access, he said, meaning hundreds of millions of people still lack reliable and affordable electricity or are cooking with polluting and harmful fuels.

"We can provide universal access to energy in Africa primarily through renewable energy. I call for a comprehensive package of support to meet this objective ahead of COP26," the secretary-general said, referring to the UN climate change conference in November.

"It is achievable. It is necessary. It is overdue. And it is smart: Climate action is a US$3 trillion investment opportunity in Africa by 2030," he added.

However, the secretary-general pointed to "the major finance" gap blocking progress toward this goal. He urged developed countries to deliver on their US$100-billion climate commitment made over a decade ago.

"Developed countries and main financers must ensure a swift shift of the billions to support African green investments, to increase resilience and to create the conditions for scaled-up private finance," he said.

"And the private sector must step up and get organized to provide immediate, concrete solutions to governments. Local authorities can work with unions and community leaders on reskilling and social security nets."

While African governments also can lead the way by committing to ambitious adaptation and mitigation plans, they first need to regain their fiscal autonomy, he said.

The UN chief stressed the need to extend the debt moratorium for developing countries, made last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and even cancelling debts where appropriate.

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