Sub-Saharan Africa is at a pivotal crossroads in its development. Its choice of energy for the future will be decisive in achieving its sustainable development ambitions, including clean and affordable electricity access for all.
As recent IPCC reports have shown, sub-Saharan Africa faces very serious risks from climate change, especially with current policy pathways pushing the world towards 2.7°C of warming by 2100.
The IPCC AR6 Working Group II report found with high confidence that limiting global warming to 1.5°C is likely to substantially reduce damages to African economies and ecosystems. Exceeding this level of warming, even by 0.5°C, is projected to result in impacts becoming widespread and severe, including reduced food production, reduced economic growth, increased inequality and poverty, increased human morbidity and mortality and major biodiversity loss.
Conversely, limiting global warming to 1.5°C will likely have a large positive impact on GDP across Africa, with clear benefits from a low emissions pathway emerging by 2030.
But at the moment, Africa’s progress towards achieving critical sustainable development goals, particularly energy goals such as access to clean and affordable energy, are flagging and falling far behind 2030 targets. Universal access to clean and affordable energy is critical for economic development in sub-Saharan Africa to improve livelihoods, overcome gender issues, provide public services, enable industry development and ensure environmental sustainability.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than half of the world’s least developed countries where people earn less than US$1.90 a day.
The current energy crisis and Europe’s search for a replacement for Russian gas has given rise to a trend towards greater interest in developing fossil fuel resources, particularly fossil gas for both domestic consumption and export, across the region.
At the same time, a larger energy system transformation is gaining momentum globally, driven in part by climate and energy policies aimed at meeting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal, and enabled by the ongoing rapid reductions in the cost of renewable energy and storage technologies.
In this sense, sub-Saharan Africa stands at a crossroads: whether to expand investment in fossil fuel resources for domestic use and export, or whether to accelerate investment in clean and affordable renewable energy that can provide distributed or centralised power for rural and urban areas, as well as electrical power for industry, and potentially for export.
Africa has 60% of the world’s best solar resources. The unique opportunity that sub-Saharan Africa has is to find a way of taking advantage of its relatively low level of incumbent fossil fuel infrastructure compared to many other countries, and a large and growing demand for clean and affordable energy.
This paper conducts a survey of the issues involved in taking advantage of this opportunity and looks at further critical work needed to advance this.
When will global greenhouse gas emissions peak?
The IPCC says peaking before 2025 is a critical step to keep the 1.5°C limit within reach. With emissions set to rise in 2023, this leaves limited time to act. To assess if we can meet this milestone, we look at when global emissions might peak, as well as what we can do to get there in time.
Wind and solar benchmarks for a 1.5°C world
This report presents a detailed methodology for determining the amount of wind and solar capacity that is required for a country to align with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature goal. While the focus of the report is the method, it includes illustrative benchmarks for Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Germany, South Africa.
A 1.5°C future is possible: getting fossil fuels out of the Philippine power sector
The Philippines is also one of the fastest-growing developing countries: poverty is in decline, access to energy is rising and, with that, demand for energy services. However, fossil fuels still dominate the energy system, accounting for 78% of power generation in 2022. This report sets out what the Philippines government needs to do to get the country’s power sector onto a 1.5˚C compatible emissions pathway, replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.
State of Climate Action 2023
This report finds that global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C are failing across the board, with recent progress made on every indicator – except electric vehicle sales – lagging behind the pace and scale needed to address the climate crisis.
Production Gap Report 2023
Governments, in aggregate, still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. The persistence of the global production gap puts a well-managed and equitable energy transition at risk.
Emissions impossible: Unpacking CSIRO GISERA Beetaloo Middle Arm fossil gas emissions estimates
This report provides an independent evaluation of the CSIRO and GISERA assessments of the potential greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the exploitation of the Beetaloo fossil shale gas reserves.
Adjusting 1.5°C climate change mitigation pathways in light of adverse new information
This study uses an integrated assessment model to explore how 1.5°C pathways could adjust in light of new adverse information, such as a reduced 1.5°C carbon budget, or slower-than-expected low-carbon technology deployment.
Railway development: lessons for the EU
This paper analyses how EU railway policy for a low-carbon future can be enhanced, drawing insights from Japan and Switzerland.
2030 targets aligned to 1.5°C: evidence from the latest global pathways
Our new method applies sustainability limits and minimises the need for carbon dioxide removal to set key 2030 global targets for renewables, fossil fuels and emissions.
The biogeophysical effects of idealised land cover and land management changes in Earth system models
The dependence of different land cover and land management change options on the background climate are still poorly understood across different Earth system models.
De la CDN 1.0 à la CDN 2.0: qu'est-ce qui a changé dans les CDN des PMA de l’Afrique de l'Ouest?
La présente étude examine les premières et les secondes Contributions Déterminées au niveau National des onze pays les moins avancés de l’Afrique de l’Ouest à savoir le Bénin, le Burkina Faso, la Gambie, la Guinée, la Guinée Bissau, le Libéria, le Mali, le Niger, le Sénégal, la Sierra Leone et le Togo.