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Climate justice groups back African renewables proposal

Climate justice advocates today expressed their support for the African Group proposal to advance energy transformation in developing countries even before the new climate deal is expected to take effect in 2020.

In their press conference held today in the midst of the UN climate talks, the advocates said that the collective proposal of the 54 African countries is appealing because it can truly change the dynamics of the climate negotiations and set the course towards real solutions, granted that there are strong social and environmental safeguards and commonly agreed rules with no link to offsets or carbon trading.

“From the perspective of Least Developed Countries and African civil society, concerted efforts by the global community to enable people-centered, locally-relevant energy solutions in our countries is key and exactly what is needed,” said Azeb Girmai of LDC Watch, while noting that more than half of the LDCs are in Africa.

“However, a global programme also needs to put the spotlight on the radical emissions reductions that need to take place in developed countries. They need to immediately move to 100% renewable energy within their own countries, while providing the necessary finance and technology to enable a renewable-energy based development model in our countries,” she added.

The proposal, which is gaining traction among civil society organisations and developing country governments alike, is for a support system within the UN climate framework that can enable globally-funded feed-in tariffs, minigrid support and other incentives for renewable energy, and which would be funded by the Green Climate Fund.

“We need the funds to be made available immediately through the GCF for distributed renewable energy systems so we can see them advance on the ground,” said Brandon Wu of ActionAid. “People-centered, locally controlled renewable energy initiatives and projects are an ideal target for GCF support. These types of activities will fulfill the Fund’s dual mission to address climate change and contribute to sustainable development – as opposed to any possible support for fossil fuels, which would run counter to both.”

“Such a programme has the potential to really change the current distrust in the negotiations. Rather than play a blame game while the world burns, we could be exploring a bold solution to address the need for both energy access and climate mitigation. Such a mechanism could deliver electricity to the 2 billion currently with limited or no energy access in only 10-15 years.

It would help developing countries avoid the fossil fuel dependent model of development we have seen in the global North and instead find their way onto a resilient and climate-friendly development path,” said Niclas Hällström, director of the What Next Forum in Sweden.

Although recent technological breakthroughs and falling costs for renewable energy prove that the energy transformation is underway, much still needs to be done. Advocates assert that pre-2020 action has not been anywhere near ambitious enough – either in terms of emissions reductions in the industrialised countries or in terms of their transferring the finance and technology needed for emissions reductions in the global South. As a result, the window for opportunity to avoid catastrophic climate change is rapidly closing.

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