US warns against long-term oil, gas projects in Africa, pledging support to Nigeria’s clean energy
Investing in long-term gas projects in Africa as countries wrestle with powering their development with clean energy may not be a very good idea, United States’ special envoy on climate John Kerry has noted, as African countries denounce developed nations’ pledge to curb fossil fuel investment is unfair.
“We are not saying no gas,” he told the media on the sidelines of an African environment ministers’ conference in Dakar, Senegal, last week. “What we are saying is, over the next few years, gas replaces coal or replaces oil,” Kerry said, adding that gas can be used as a transition to cleaner energy sources, though after 2030, it will be important to capture the emissions from gas too.
Almost half of Africa’s population, or more than 600 million people, lack access to electricity, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the International Energy Agency. Therefore, in order to boost their electricity production, power industries and curb energy poverty, Senegal and other African countries in the region aim to start producing oil and gas. And continued financing of oil and gas projects on the continent is also expected to be a hotly contested issue during a United Nations climate summit in Egypt in November.
Meanwhile, Kerry has also pledged US support to help Nigeria mitigate the effects of climate change, saying Africa’s most populous nation would benefit from a $12 billion fund for climate action. During his recent two-nation West Africa visit in the Nigerian capital, the former US secretary of state said the agreement allows the US government to assist Nigeria in developing technologies for cleaner fuel sources, including gas, wind and solar energy.
“Nigeria is a very important, if not one of the most important, countries in terms of the direction of dealing with climate for all of Africa, because Nigeria is a major producer of gas and oil and how Nigeria approaches the climate crisis will send a message to the rest of the continent, will help set the direction of our dealing with the climate crisis,” Kerry said.