In the currently dominant narrative, Africa is essentially ‘along for the ride’ as a victim of environmental injustice.
Through this lens the continent is mostly irrelevant to both the global emissions equation (with smaller economies and carbon footprints) and to climate solutions (with less capacity for technological innovation). This story frames Africa’s primary relevance as a pressing humanitarian concern: though the Global North has created climate change, its impact will be particularly brutal in poorer countries that need to be supported through extensive adaptation.
As CAP-A, we believe this narrative misses the mark. In fact, climate action in Africa is indispensable: the world needs climate action in Africa to achieve net zero global ambitions by 2050 – and Africa needs climate action as a driver for economic transformation and job creation at scale.
The 3 assets (Renewable Energy Potential, Land and Natural Resources and Youngest and Fastest Growing Workforce) could be deployed against 3 major levers for global climate impact:
- Meeting Africa’s own growing demand for energy, goods and services without increasing the continent’s current low emissions footprint by leapfrogging to widespread adoption of green technologies and practices across the entire economy
- Utilizing that green manufacturing capacity to provide climate friendly production (expansion) capacity for the world as an increasingly competitive green manufacturing and energy hub that accelerates the greening of global industry
- Ramping up Africa’s potential for carbon removals at scale through a combination of land use, ecosystem management and application of energy and natural resources to various emerging engineered removal technologies. This recognizes that if some countries will not be able to get to net zero by 2050, that requires some part of the world to go substantially net negative in order to keep any hope of global net zero alive