RIYADH: Africa can become a renewable energy powerhouse if rich nations help the continent in the global battle against climate change, according to Minouche Shafik, director of the London School of Economics.
Speaking at the UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on Nov. 7, Shafik insisted the green industrial revolution could become the new growth story for Africa if properly implemented, and added that it could turn the world economy sustainable.
She said: “Africa is responsible for just one percent of the stock of carbon emissions, but it will be the hardest hit by climate change. That cannot be right.
“Many African countries are in the sunshine, wind, rivers and forests. With the support and lower cost of capital, these nations could leapfrog the energy systems of the past.”
During her speech, Shafik noted that the current economy should be changed to create a better future, which should be sustainable and free from carbon emissions.
She added: “Humans are the cause of climate change, and we have the means to stop it by changing our economy. We should change it by making needed investments, and creating cities where can move, live and breathe. The food we eat should regenerate the earth rather than deplete it.”
She further pointed out that transforming the planet to a sustainable home for living, as outlined in the Paris agreement, demands $4 to $6 trillion per year globally.
According to Shafik, both the public sector and the private sector should work together to meet climate goals, and governments should also formulate necessary policy frameworks to make it happen.
“Public sector investments will play a key role while fighting climate change. Despite current fiscal constraints, these investments can be financed, as they will fetch positive returns,” said Shafik.
She added: “The private sector too has an important role in fighting climate change. The government has to provide clear policy frameworks and guarantees.”
She also warned that humanity is going to suffer a lot if climate change issues are not addressed.
“The economy of the future is our choice. Climate change and biodiversity loss are here, and we are already suffering the consequences. We can overcome this climate change by choosing a different economy for the future,” she added.
Earlier during the event, UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged that developed and emerging economies should work together to accelerate the energy transition, as planet earth is already on the verge of irreversible climate chaos.
He also added that the Group of 20 countries should accelerate the energy transition within the decade to avoid the dire consequences associated with climate change.
“Global temperatures keep rising. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator. We are getting dangerously close to the point of no return,” said Guterres.