The Rush Towards Renewables Poises To Cripple Africa.

By NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber

African countries are hardly alone in their refusal to accept global pressure to rush their transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydrogen power.

In May 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a report, “Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector ,” calling for a halt to oil and gas exploration around the globe at the end of the year. That dramatic measure, the IEA argued, was the global energy sector’s only hope of achieving net-zero emissions (ensuring the amount of greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere equals the amount being removed) by 2050, a goal outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement.

While some have put their support behind the IEA’s recommendation, a number of oil- and gas-producing nations firmly and unapologetically rejected it.

The Deputy Director of International Affairs at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Akihisa Matsuda, told Reuters that his government had no plans to immediately stop oil, gas, and coal investments.

“The report provides one suggestion as to how the world can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, but it is not necessarily in line with the Japanese government’s policy,” Matsuda said. “Japan needs to protect its energy security including a stable supply of electricity, so we will balance this with our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.”

Norway Oil Minister Tina Bru pushed back against the IEA’s recommendations, too. “It would not if Norway discontinues production,” Bru said. “It would just move to other countries, and then we are no further. This is a complex global problem that requires many solutions.”
And in the Philippines, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said a rush to cut off oil, gas, and coal financing would “set back the Philippines’ aspiration to join the ranks of upper middle-income countries.”

I respect each of these stances and only wish that Africa’s oil- and gas-producing nations would be afforded the same consideration when African leaders express similar viewpoints regarding Africa’s shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.