“Don’t tell Africa that the world cannot afford the climate cost of its hydrocarbons and then fire up coal stations whenever Europe feels an energy pinch,” Mr Buhari wrote.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has called out western countries for hypocrisy and failure to take responsibility in tackling climate change.
“Many of my peers are frustrated with Western hypocrisy and its inability to take responsibility,” he wrote in a Wednesday WashingtonPost article.
The Nigerian leader noted that western governments have repeatedly failed to meet their commitments to the $100 billion fund for climate adaptation and mitigation in the developing world “for the mess their own industries caused.”
He said western countries can no longer dictate to Africa how its resources should be used.
“Don’t tell Africans they can’t use their own resources. If Africa were to use all its known reserves of natural gas, the cleanest transitional fossil fuel, its share of global emissions would rise from a mere 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent,” he noted.
Africa contributes about three per cent to global emissions but is one of the regions worst hit by climate change.
“Don’t tell Africa that the world cannot afford the climate cost of its hydrocarbons and then fire up coal stations whenever Europe feels an energy pinch. Don’t tell the poorest in the world that their marginal energy use will break the carbon budget only to sign off on new domestic permits for oil and gas exploration,” Mr Buhari said.
He said such an attitude “gives the impression your citizens have more of a right to energy than Africans.”
Africa needs gas to transition
Gas has been identified as an important transition fuel which Africa has in abundance. However, it needs finance to maximize the potential of the hydrocarbon.
Admonishing western countries in his piece, Mr Buhari observed that funding for gas that benefits Africa as well as the West is conspicuously lacking even though the continent needs it to pull millions of citizens out of poverty and create jobs for its burgeoning youth population.
Additionally, even as countries stopped funding fossil fuel projects in Africa, “they pursue new oil and gas projects within their own borders.”
“Western development has unleashed climate catastrophe on my continent. Now, the rich countries’ green policies dictate that Africans should remain poor for the greater good. To compound the injustice, Africa’s hydrocarbons will be exploited after all, just not for Africans,” he noted.
Calling on the West to follow its own logic, he said while Africa is told that the falling cost of renewables means it must leapfrog carbon-emitting industries, western governments are effectively paying their citizens to burn more hydrocarbons.
“Lavish subsidy packages have been drawn up to offset spiralling energy bills,” Mr Buhari said.
Africa is paying a price it should not
According to the Nigerian leader, at this year’s COP, negotiation should start with acknowledging that “Africa did not cause the mess, yet we pay the price.”
He deplored western countries’ reluctance to take politically difficult decisions that hurt domestically.
“Instead, they move the problem offshore, essentially dictating that the developing world must swallow the pill too bitter for their own voters’ palates,” he noted.
Making a case for adaptation funds
The Nigerian leader implored rich countries to direct a greater share of funding to assist developing nations to adapt to the effects of climate change.
He noted that most financing currently flows toward mitigation projects.
“While such projects have their uses, far more money needs to go to helping Africa adapt to the effects of climate change which seems only fair for a continent that produces less than 3 per cent of global emissions,” he emphasised.
According to a recent report by the Global Centre on Adaptation, Africa needs $52.7 billion annually in adaptation funds by 2030.
It noted that current annual spending on adaptation across all of Africa is $11.4 billion, representing about 39 per cent of the total climate finance committed to the continent annually.
This amount, GCA notes, is far short of what is needed.
Africa urgently needs investment in adaptation infrastructure to stave off the disasters that destroy communities and cripple economies, the report states.