The Climate Agenda is our Development Agenda, says AU Commissioner Abou-Zeid
African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Dr Amani Abou-Zeid (2nd from right) at the Consultation Meeting

23 May 2024    

ParisCOP29 Presidency has convened the first high-level consultation meeting on energy transition. The Dialogue – which was co-chaired by COP29 President-Designate Mukhtar Babayev and IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol – gathered over 70 energy and climate leaders from across the world at the IEA’s headquarters in Paris. 

Participants included UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell; African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Dr Amani Abou-Zeid; Germany’s State Secretary and Special Envoy for International Climate Action Jennifer Morgan; and Ireland’s Minister for Transport, Climate, Environment & Communications Eamon Ryan – as well as Malawi's Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola; Sierra Leone’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jiwoh Abdulai; Togo’s Minister for Energy and Mines Mila Aziablé; Uganda’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu.

The consultation meeting aimed at discussing ambitions and desired outputs of COP29 in Baku Azerbaijan and implementing of the energy commitments made at COP28 as well as building on the success of the five Dialogues held last year by COP28 Presidency.

The consultation meeting, held at IEA headquarters in Paris, provided an important opportunity for the COP29 Presidency to share its vision and emerging priorities and to receive the priorities and concerns expressed by a diverse range of global energy and climate leaders with the aim of building consensus ahead of COP29 in November 2024.

H. E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Energy and Infrastructure indicated that the meeting was key to ensure Africa contributes to shaping and influencing COP29 priorities and outcomes adapted to realities in the Continent.

The AU Commissioner delivered powerful messages emphasising the fundamental needs of the Continent in achieving sustainable development and climate resilience. She highlighted the importance of recognising that addressing climate priorities in tripling renewable energy capacity in Africa is not just an environmental issue but as a fundamental priority of the continent’s development trajectory. She insisted that it is critical that climate action becomes catalytic to wider social and economic development in Africa by availing jobs and promoting manufacturing of equipment and promoting industrial transformation and beneficiation of critical minerals in the Continent. She added “the climate agenda is our development agenda".

AU Commissioner Abou-Zeid underscored that access to finance remains Africa's biggest challenge, highlighting the stark reality of minimal share for Africa from global climate finance and investments, despite the serious energy poverty in the Continent and calling for a comprehensive reform of the global financing architecture, encompassing climate, development, and investment finance. “It is unfortunate that this critical issue is being raised in every COP, but progress remains slow. Africa received less than 3% of the investments of US$3 trillion in renewables over the last decade," Commissioner Amani Abou-Zeid stated. She further highlighted that available financing for climate and development at the global level is out of reach for most African countries, mainly due to unfair credit ratings and high cost of capital.

Fast-tracking technology transfer is another major priority for Africa. Commissioner Abou-Zeid called for frameworks and initiatives to encourage technology innovation and transfer, technical cooperation, and technical capacity building and training. She urged to “maintain the momentum and calls towards access to technologies at COP29 and encourage the creation a manufacturing base for energy equipment and systems in Africa which will be crucial for reducing costs and favour production at scale”.

Commissioner Abou-Zeid also tackled the issue of clean cooking in Africa which has gained global momentum over the last 2 years, culminating in the first Summit on Clean Cooking Africa on 14 May 2024 in Paris, the day before the COP29 consultation meeting.

She insisted on the importance of keeping this momentum by including this central issue at the top of the agenda at COP29. “Almost a billion people still rely on traditional biomass for cooking in Africa, with very low efficiency. The global calls to double energy efficiency in this decade must also ensure that efficient cooking technologies are at the forefront of interventions”, she stated.

Commissioner Amani Abou-Zeid underscored the pressing need to revisit the process of mining and extraction of critical minerals for the energy transition. "The extraction of critical minerals for the energy transition is vital, yet the current processes are deeply flawed," Commissioner Amani Abou-Zeid stated. She called for an urgent need to revise these processes to ensure they meet environmental, social, and governance standards, and contribute positively to local communities and ecosystems.

She also asserted the need to confront the issue of green investment and greenwashing as well as develop robust frameworks for green investment that prioritise transparency, accountability, and genuine environmental and social impact saying that “it is imperative to scrutinise investments labelled as 'green' to ensure they genuinely contribute to sustainability goals and do not perpetuate harmful practices under the guise of environmental responsibility."

African Union Commission

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