Africa’s vast forests, mangroves and peatlands currently store years of global emissions. The peatlands of the Congo Basin, for example, store nearly 30 Gt of CO2e – as much as the amount emitted globally through the burning of fossil fuels for 3 years. (Vera Songwe’s TED talk about Congo River Basin peatlands), and can continue to store CO2 every year.
They need to be protected so what they currently store, does not get released. They need to be managed so that they keep adding to that storage as much as possible every year. And they need to be expanded, restoring the vast degraded landscapes.
New business and finance models are needed to make this work and to create inclusive benefits for African communities – and carbon markets play an important role in that. Two examples of models that use carbon markets to protect and restore Africa’s natural treasures, are KOKO Networks and Ngorongosa National Parks. Farmers can play an active role in carbon removal through land management practices like on-farm tree planting, biochar and soil carbon management. These mechanisms are extremely labour-intensive, and in Africa, where many youths are looking for meaningful employment, this opportunity is a win-win.
These natural treasures are not only key in controlling our planet’s temperature, but also hold unique and important biodiversity, and provide essential so-called ecosystem services – for example, they play a vital role in the water cycle across Africa, driving rain patterns that are key to humanity.
Africa’s potential is meaningful on a global scale – and can be economically significant for the continent. Many climate-action activities are labour intensive and thus most efficiently executed where labour is abundant. Reforestation, creating biochar and managing mangroves are some examples.
CAP-A has developed a data tool to estimate the number of jobs that climate action could create across the continent. The tool uses globally leading scientific insights to show, for Africa as a whole and for individual countries, Africa’s potential to remove CO2 with nature-based approaches. It shows this potential in tonnes of CO2, but it also shows the number of jobs created and the expected related revenue at different carbon prices – and thus quickly shows the potential for inclusive economic growth from this type of climate action.
According to that tool, nature based solutions alone have the potential to create more than 86 million jobs and improved livelihoods when receiving $ 50 per tonne of carbon. This would be equivalent to almost 10% of Africa’s labour force in 2050, a huge boost for the economy of the youth.