Africa can become world leader in renewables, green growth – UN chief

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New York.

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has said Africa is rich in untapped renewable energy with the potential to become a world leader in renewables and green growth.

Guterres, who said at the ongoing three-day Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, described the continent as “a renewable energy superpower.”

According to him, the continent has nearly a third of the world’s mineral reserves for solar power, electric vehicles and battery storage.

“To truly benefit all Africans, the production and trade of these critical minerals must be sustainable, transparent and just across every link of the supply chain,” he said.

He said the flame of injustice was “scorching hopes and possibilities” across Africa as the world grappled with the climate crisis, with the continent suffering some of the worst impacts of global warming.

The UN chief noted that despite extreme heat, ferocious floods, and tens of thousands dead from devastating droughts, the continent was responsible for less than four per cent of emissions.

“The blow inflicted on development is all around with growing hunger and displacement.

But amid the climate chaos he said it was still possible to avoid the worst, “but only with a quantum leap in climate action,” he said in a statement.

He said far greater climate ambition was needed from all countries led by the largest emitters, in line with his Climate Solidarity Pact and Acceleration Agenda.

He called on the G20 advanced economies meeting in Delhi this week, to take responsibility and commit to reaching net zero emissions as close as possible to 2040.

He also called for “climate justice” to reach goals on renewable and affordable energy, particularly in Africa.

This means operationalising the agreed loss and damage fund, universal early warning systems, and a “course correction in the global financial system.”

The UN chief pointed to the Greater Horn region where over 85 per cent of electricity comes from renewable, noting that Mozambique gets nearly all its energy from green and sustainable resources.

And wind and solar projects are already helping power Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and South Sudan.

He called for a collective effort to create “a true” African Renewable Energy Alliance.

“Renewable energy could be the African miracle but we must make it happen. We must all work together for Africa to become a renewable energy superpower,” he said.

Guterres told the conference of African leaders and stakeholders hosted by Kenya and the African Union Commission that he was convinced the continent could be at the heart of a renewable future.

He said now was the time for all nations “to stand as one in defence of our only home. Let’s deliver the climate justice that Africans, the world, and the planet we share, demand and deserve.”

Speaking at a press conference in Nairobi after his speech, the secretary-general said it was time to end the injustices that were holding the continent back.

He pledged to work closely with African leaders and organisations such as the AU, to accelerate progress.

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