Africa at COP26 : Looking beyond the rhetoric to climate action

Date: 28th October 2021 (2:00- 3:30pm ) SAT

Platform: ZOOM

REGISTRATION

Background

In a few days global leaders, scientists and climate activists will gather in Glasgow for COP26 climate change negotiations. This meeting comes at a time when the world is just starting to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic, in addition to numerous extreme weather events. Climate negotiators at COP must therefore come prepared with ambitious goals to dramatically reduce global CO2 emissions, to curtain the devastating impact of climate change.

This COP also needs to ensure that the Paris Climate Agreement signed in 2015, can be effectively implemented, by ensuring that countries set ambitious targets in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This is important because, as it stands now, the world is off track to limit global warming to below 1.5 to avoid catastrophic climate change.

In Copenhagen in 2009, developed countries pledged to raise $100 billion annually for developing countries to undertake climate action by 2020. Unfortunately, that target has not been met. This is extremely worrying as developing countries require the resources to adapt to the impact of climate change, as they will be disproportionately impacted.

What are Africa’s expectations at COP26?

There is no doubt that Africa is already being negatively impacted by climate change, with increasing incidences of extreme events such as flooding, droughts and wildfires. Africa is already warming faster than the global average, a clear indication that the worst impacts of climate change are yet to be felt.

As leaders converge in Glasgow, what are Africa’s expectations? As a youthful continent, what are young people’s expectations? Can this COP unlock opportunities for young people to address the systemic challenges of unemployment on the continent?

Invitation to dialogue

The African Centre for a Green Economy invites you to a webinar entitled ” Beyond rhetoric: How can COP26 deliver real climate action on the ground for young people in Africa?”

Expected Outcomes

  • Unpack Africa’s expectations and and specifically youth at COP26
  • Outline key the opportunities for Africa to unclock climate finance to support youth engagement
  • Identify key policy measures required for African countries to accelerate climate action
Moderator: Dr. Mao Amis– Executive Director, African Centre for a Green Economy
Opening Remarks: Dr Martha Melesse – Senior Program Specialist, Inclusive Economies Program, `IDRC
Panelists:
  • Ms Karishma Ansaram – YOUNGO Finance & Market Working Group Contact Point
  • Ms Natalie Mangondo, Researcher, Climate Activist & COP26 youth delegate
  • Ms Rose Kobusinge – Climate Activist, PhD candidate (Coventry University)
  • Ms Elizabeth Gulugulu – Programs Manager · African Youth Initiative on Climate Change Zimbabwe

Drivers of inclusive energy access in Africa

Sub- Saharan Africa has the lowest access to electricity globally, with more than 592 million people without electricity. Debates around improving energy access in sub-Saharan Africa advocate for investments in off-grid renewable energy, to close the large energy gap. Despite these assertions, financial constraints, gender inequality and the exclusion of local communities remain major challenges in ensuring sustainable and inclusive energy access for all.

Secure  financing  from the private sector 

Despite the fact that African governments have put in place policies aimed at increasing public revenue to boost renewable energy funding, public funds are still inadequate to cover all necessary investments for achieving the sustainable energy access capacities for all. This therefore calls for more private investment and the adoption of models that can be used to ensure sufficient access to energy for all. Noting with praise the enormous work carried out by Green Climate Fund in unlocking private funding and supporting countries to realize their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) towards low-emissions and climate-resilient pathways, it is still critical that governments and other key actors (such as financial institutions like banks) work jointly to create a conducive environment free from political instabilities and stringent regulations which act as barriers to private investments. This in turn will extensively enhance financing from the private sector to support energy access projects that in the long run safeguard inclusive  benefits across populations. Adopt more innovative ways to unlock financing for promoting energy access. 

Promote local participation in all energy access efforts

There is a need to involve indigenous and local communities as well as poor households in designing and implementing energy access response mechanisms intended to solve energy related challenges on ground. For example, there are emerging efforts centered around enhancing and promoting local community participation in South Africa’s renewable energy sector. Initiatives such as Life After Coal have attracted other actors  using an open agenda benchmark to promote and advocate for environmental justice , a transformed, sustainable and just energy system that benefits everyone.This has been used as a pathway to guarantee that if local people are given an opportunity to voice their experiences, interests and priorities related to issues around energy accessibility , inclusivity can be achieved ultimately. 

Mainstreaming gender in energy access program design  

Lack of access to energy affects everyone irrespective of gender even though women are disproportionately affected since they are more dependent on energy to fulfil their domestic roles. There is a need to understand the impacts of energy poverty across genders so as to aid in tabling sustainable energy access solutions that benefit both men and women in equitable ways across communal and household levels. Most importantly, acknowledging women’s needs and their role in designing efficient and just renewable energy systems aids  in preventing dysfunctional policies and measures that would rather be gender insensitive and exclusionary.

Consequently, effective, and sustainable energy accessibility policies and initiatives call for inclusive and collaborative efforts among key stakeholders but most considerably bring on board the private sector that has the ability to boost funding for renewable energy projects. However, for these efforts to be just and equitable, it calls for prioritizing the needs and interests of indigenous and local communities as well as recognizing the active role that women play in energy accessibility discourses and processes. 

Author : Damalie Tebajjukira

Marketing & Communications Intern

African Centre for a Green Economy

Greening urban spaces is critical for climate change adaptation

Globally, urbanization is advancing at unprecedented pace, with an estimated half of the global population dwelling in urban areas, this trend is projected to increase by over 60% by 2050. The trends are typified by stark contrast between Northern and Southern Urbanisation, with most of the contemporary and projected growth occurring in the Global South. These dynamics, accompanied by massive socio-technical and ecological transitions — consumer and production practices, culture, green and grey infrastructure, policies, business models, air and water quality — present both significant opportunities and challenges for sustainable urban present and futures.

In the context of Africa, emerging pressures that occasion the need to purposively harness the socio-technical and ecological transitions include: 1) the high rates of production to meet the ever increasing consumption; 2) the pervasive environmental imprint of urban production and consumption in the ‘urban’ and its hinterlands; 3) growing population and its need for healthy and amenable environment; 4) the rapid proliferation of informal urban settlements presenting new governance challenges — maintaining the status quo, an estimated 3.5 billion people will live in slums in the global south by 2050; 5) climate change and urban heat island effect. 

The urban pressures are already causing shifts in the socioeconomic and environmental fabric, further entrenching the deep inequalities that exist within the ‘urban’. Southern urbanism should not only harness its own consumption and production systems, but also recognise the pluralistic nature of its development — presupposing flexible solutions that are sustainable and generate socioeconomic and environmental co-benefits for the multifaceted development trajectory — the imperative of urban forestry.

For a long time, urban forestry has been somewhat a ‘step-child’ of urban development — more so in the global south where urbanization is dominated by built infrastructure. However, with the emergence of policy responses such as the New Urban Agenda, the SDG on cities and initiatives such as Tree Cities of the World, the mainstreaming of urban forestry is gaining momentum.  

During the 1st African Forum on Urban Forestry, participants highlighted the value of urban forests in shaping socio-technical and environmental transitions. Some benefits of urban forests include the following: –

  1. Urban household livelihoods: Urban forests — integrated with fruit trees among others — open up opportunities for boosting food security, biomass energy supply among other consumables. This has  the potential benefits of enhancing household income by reducing expenses on energy and food, that  normally underpin urban household expenditure. This is particularly relevant for southern urbanism where a significant fraction of urban development is associated  with the entrenchment of household income inequalities and poverty.
  2. New business opportunities without threatening existing ones: Complementing the exigency for green jobs and employment under the just transitions discourse, urban forestry and green spaces open up opportunities for new sustainable consumptive and non-consumptive business modalities — especially in green urban parks that are accompanied by a pay-per-entry approach. This not only generates revenues for the urban governments but also for private owners of such parks. To boot, It also adds value to existing commercial amenities dominated by built infrastructure — a potential opportunity to attract private sector investment.
  3. Climate change, health and wellbeing: With cities emitting over 70% of greenhouse gases and responsible for the highly polluted environment — urban forestry creates an opportunity to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration and offsetting the environmental imprints of the ‘urban’ such as air pollution. Green infrastructure also presents an opportunity to mitigate the risk and threats of urban heat islands occasioned by climate change and the engineered infrastructure. Thus, urban forestry effectively creates a healthy environment for the urbanites — there is a lot of research demonstrating the value of urban forests to human health and wellbeing, physically, mentally and culturally. Contrary to many grey and built infrastructure options, Green infrastructure significantly precludes the risk and possibility of maladaptation. 

Despite the immense contributions of urban forestry to urban transitions, there  are still significant challenges that hinders the realization of the full potential of urban forestry in shaping transition to sustainable urban futures. Addressing some of these challenges requires tailored approaches that recognise the contextual disparities in urbanization between the south and north, and the plurality of urbanization in the south — both informal and formal dimensions — without which inequalities in planning, design, benefit sharing and power dynamics will be exacerbated.

Harnessing urban forestry to ensure a transition to sustainable urban futures requires a number of solution-oriented policy and non-policy based instruments woven through planning, design and implementation for any successful urban forestry ventures. First, there is a need to demonstrate the imperative and benefits of green infrastructure in urban spaces and the tragedy of an urban space dominated by grey infrastructure to both investors and urban dwellers. Secondly, an inclusive multi-stakeholder approach is needed in the planning, design, implementation, maintenance and evaluation of urban forest ventures. This owes to the central status of urban spaces as contested landscapes with multiple conflicting priorities and rationalities. Such an inclusivity should capture the influence of the pluralistic nature of the ‘urban’. The multi-stakeholder approach creates a platform to build trust among stakeholders and co-produce knowledge on the needs, possibilities and barriers to mainstreaming urban forestry in urban development plans.

Author: Amanubo Amos

Research Associate — African Centre for Green Economy+

Disclaimer: Some of the views expressed here are those of the author, and are not in any way meant to represent the views of African Centre for Green Economy.

 

Energy access is still a dream for majority of women in Africa!

Improving access to energy is on the frontline of the global development agenda geared towards achieving SDG 7 that envisages a future where everyone is able to access affordable, reliable, sustainable  and modern energy. The global 2019 statistics reveal that the total number of people without access to energy dropped to 770 million from 860 million, a record lower when compared to previous figures. Despite the recorded progress, the sad reality is that access to energy remains uneven between and within regions particularly for sub-Saharan Africa. 75% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa is without access to energy, a percentage projected to increase exponentially with time. While the lack of access to energy affects everyone, women have continued to be more disadvantaged than their male counterparts. This has raised the need for policy frameworks and alternative energy choices to be more inclusive and focus on addressing the challenges faced by women in the quest for energy access.

The development and adoption of off grid energy solutions across Africa is suggested as a way to effectively address the challenges of energy poverty faced specifically by women. Studies indicate that women in rural communities spend at least 3 hours per day  looking for firewood for home consumption. The concept of biomass cooking crisis, a labor-intensive activity where women rely on the use of firewood and charcoal for cooking, illustrates how women are at a greater risk of inhaling toxic gases. Also, the  human energy crisis affects women in rural areas as they spend most of their time on more manual unpaid household labor such as grain grinding and firewood collection. Such experiences that women have to put up with, affect their health, education attainment, life skills development and their ability to start up small businesses to generate their own income, thus the need for off grid energy solutions such as the use of solar energy.

The promotion of  gender sensitive  renewable energy projects in Africa’s remote areas will contribute to improved standards of living for  women as they will encourage them to take up green jobs in solar energy engineering, energy risk assessment and management. This  will also catalyse economic empowerment that will immensely reduce the gender inequality gap that exists  in most African countries. With an objective of spiraling green jobs and boosting the inclusion and participation of women through Just Transition pathways,  the African Centre for a Green Economy has embarked on a renewable energy access project in South Africa and Uganda’s most vulnerable communities.  This project has been designed with an aim that 60% of the target population will be women in the quest to ensure that women are the primary beneficiaries. It is also envisioned that the project will enable energy access for all as well as act as a case study to guide local leaders in setting up and implementing structures that tackle  energy poverty issues.

The immediate improvement in accessibility to energy among women will further aid in curbing cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in rural communities. Based  on  research findings, women with a sustainable source of energy are less prone to GBV compared to  women with no access to energy. This theory is based on the understanding that electricity  increases women’s access to information through televisions and radios, which exposes them to various global views on issues around GBV. This thinking is also supported by the view that with more information, women are enlightened and empowered to defend their rights and guard themselves against any form of violence. This also quickens and makes GBV response measures more feasible especially to women in rural areas. For example, with Africa’s general increase in GBV cases, it is projected that the extension and adoption of off grid energy solutions in rural communities will help in responding to the present energy crisis that has deterred the majority from information and response mechanisms.

Manufacturers of renewable energy solutions that fail to consider the needs of women can be assured that they will massively miss out on a large potential market for their products. Energy policymakers and analysts who ignore women’s needs will be failing to make use of an influential pool for renewable energy development. Energy researchers who side-line women in their  energy research and analysis will be intentionally failing to understand a large section of energy consumption and production. Ultimately, funding entities or investors who do not support gender-sensitive energy projects will be under looking one of their key target groups. As such, the inclusion of women in renewable energy strides in Africa cuts across all stakeholders starting from manufacturers of renewable energy solutions, policy makers, analysts, researchers to investors.

Let’s strive for renewable energy efforts that are gender inclusive to drive Africa to a sustainable development trajectory!

 Author – Damalie Tebajjukira

Communications and Marketing Associate Intern – African Centre for a Green Economy

Africa day: A call to achieving Africa’s post Covid-19 Green recovery.

While we celebrate Africa day in light  of our continental unity, solidarity, diversity, successes and economic potential, this year’s Africa day comes at a time when the world is still battling with a pandemic that has affected livelihoods, especially in Africa. It has affected Africa’s food systems, energy access and further worsen the impacts of climate change.

As African countries scramble to recover from the debilitating impact of the pandemic, the solutions being put forward need to be more strategic to address the systemic challenges the continent faces. For Africa to achieve a meaningful and inclusive economic development, a green post Covid-19 recovery is required. This would enable recovery efforts to be more equitable and sustainable in the long term.

Through the adaptation of these 4 steps, a  green post covid-19 recovery can act as  a clear pathway to attaining Africa’s sustainable green recovery:

  • Prioritise natural capital; Since African economies predominantly rely on biodiversity, it is imperative that key economic actors  take up immediate action against biodiversity loss. Through steering biodiversity conservation and protection campaigns across the continent, a communal mission to restore and protect biodiversity will be achieved.
  • Accelerate energy access for the most vulnerable; Energy access has significant impacts on social economic outputs. Accelerating  renewable energy access in rural economies is critical since it will improve on rural economies and therefore hasten recovery efforts.
  • Implement market-based incentives to reduce deforestation; Africa has lost 45% of its forest cover due to deforestation and forest degradation that have also endangered the continent’s biodiversity. The application of REDD+ in which people are rallied and paid to reduce forest loss and degradation through planting more  trees will help boost and protect Africa’s forest cover.
  • Improve access to sanitation and safe drinking water; Having access to safe drinking water is paramount for public health and sustaining healthy livelihoods. Boosting Africa’s water accessibility will  require channelling funds into directly  supporting vulnerable communities  through implementing household water treatment and storage initiatives and promoting safely- managed rainwater harvesting.

These  steps not only reduce the vulnerability of communities to pandemics but also have the potential to create more green jobs, ensure environmental sustainability, reduce  inequalities  and catalyse economic growth across the continent. On the other hand, a sustained green Covid recovery,  will require collective effort from citizens, private organizations, and all stakeholders in order to achieve effectiveness.

Enhancing access to renewable energy

There is no doubt that COVID19 has caused a devasting impact on people’s lives, businesses and the economy as a whole. As countries grapple with recovery efforts, all the fundamentals need to be in place for an accelerated transition. However, lack of reliable electricity supplies to drive economic activity, remains a major challenge, as exemplified by the recent blackouts in South Africa. Elsewhere on the continent, more than 600 million people have no access to reliable energy to meet their needs.

Off-grid energy solutions such as Photovoltaic (PV) solar, provide an excellent opportunity to build a resilient energy supply system, that can transform people’s lives and build a more equitable society. However, despite significant investments in off-grid energy solutions, their wide uptake is still relatively limited.

The African Centre for a Green Economy, convenors of the NEA are delighted to announce a new partnership with the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC), to undertake a comprehensive 3 years research aimed at building the ecosystem to scale up investments in off-grid energy solutions.

Among other things, the project will assess the effectiveness of different renewable energy technologies in accelerating green jobs creation and a low-carbon trajectory in Uganda and South Africa; analyze the equity and distribution implications of energy transition in vulnerable communities across gender, age, and income groups; develop potential financial and business models to deliver a just transition.

Here is what the IDRC’s project manager Dr Bhim Adhikari had to say “we are delighted about this opportunity to partner with the African Centre for a Green Economy, on building the evidence base for low carbon development trajectory in Africa. Off-grid energy solutions remains the most important solution to addressing Africa’s development challenges”

The Founder of African Centre for a Green Economy Dr Mao Amis says “For the last 6 years the NEA has been supporting green entrepreneurs in South Africa, we are thankful to the IDRC for enabling us continue doing this important work. We are even more excited about creating the platform for South
African green entrepreneurs to collaborate with their colleagues in the rest of the continent, especially Uganda that is regarded as one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the World”.

Repost: Exploring opportunities for investing in water and sanitation

South Africa is a water scarce country, with very high variability and unpredictability in water availability. The rainfall is highly variable and is characterised by incidences of extreme weather conditions leading to droughts and flooding. As a result, the water management context of this is driven by these prevailing conditions, which has led to a demand for water exceeding demand by a large margin.

The availability of water resources is also not equitably distributed, with most economic hubs of the country located in geographic locations with very limited water resources, leading to high dependence on physical infrastructure to move water from very far locations.

The country has very old infrastructure, posing a major challenge to basic service delivery. The average age of water infrastructure in 39 years, with poor maintenance records, frequent disruptions in service delivery have become commonplace, leading to drastic measures such as water rationing, especially during drought.

Water management in South Africa has also been characterized by significant lack of capacity among water professionals. Many water professionals have been lost to the private sector, as a result of better working conditions, and South Africa generally suffers from inadequate engineering skills, which is key for infrastructure development.

We conducted a study aimed at develoing understanding on the perceived challenges and constraints faced by the private sector, which prevents them from harnessing the opportunities of investing in the water and sanitation sector in South Africa. The key headline messages from this study are summarised below: –

  • There are significant investment opportunities: Various studies have estimated that the total cost of
    funding requirement for the water sector in South Africa is around R700 billion.
  • Too much focus on new water infrastructure. Financiers are biased towards projects that focus on delivering new infrastructure projects. Such projects are perceived to be more profitable and less risky, as they are often ringfenced or guaranteed by the public sector;
  • Inadequate capacity leading to under spending of allocated funds: Even though the sector is experiencing significant funding challenges, under spending has been reported in some cases, partly attributable to the lack of capacity both at local and national level
  • Private sector is too risk averse to effectively invest in the water sector: The high level of private sector risk aversion in relation to the water sector has hindered their effective participation;
  • More innovative funding mechanisms urgently needed to unlock investments: The traditional mechanism of private sector participation in water management under the private-public-partnerships (PPP), have not yielded any effective outcomes;
  • Insufficient evolution in the political landscape in South Africa poses a challenge. The political landscape in South Africa has not evolved sufficiently enough to allow the private sector to confidently partner with Government in delivering water infrastructure;
  • The absence of an Independent Regulator is a barrier to unlocking private sector investments: The potential establishment of an independent regulator would be an extremely useful mechanism to bolster private sector confidence in investing in water infrastructure

You can download the full report here: [download id=”10172″]

 

Building resilience of rural communities against climate change

Not a drop of water to drink

The Orange- Senque river basin is one of the most important river basins in southern Africa, powering the economies of at least 4 countries. With its origins in Lesotho, it encompasses half of South Africa, a quarter of Namibia and a significant portion of southern Botswana. The Orange river is crucial for the region. The upper reaches of the river is a major water supplier to the industrial hubs of South Africa, namely Johannesburg.

The middle reaches of the river is key for agricultural production especially grains, a staple crop in South Africa. The significance of this river is even much more pronounced in the semi-arid Northern Cape Province of South Africa, where most agricultural activities take place along the river bank.

Reliance on the river as a primary source of irrigation has been seriously threatened as a result of a changing climate, with a resultant significant reduction in water levels. This has, in turn, intensified the competition for scarce water between different water users. For example, the region is currently experiencing extreme drought conditions that have hampered rainfed agriculture, prompting the government to declare the region a disaster zone.

The stories emanating from the ground as a result of the drought are extremely sad. Many farms are closing down because the cost of operation has become prohibitive. Livestock are succumbing to the extreme heat, lack of water and inadequate pasture.

Impact of drought on vulnerable communities

The toll of the drought is not only impacting commercial farmers, but also the livelihoods of many rural folks and smallholder farmers in particular. In rural communities, the skills base is very low, so many members of the local communities are employed as labourers on farms while others manage their own small scale farming activities. However, due to the harsh conditions many of these local community members have been forced to abandon their livelihood activities, resulting in significant vulnerability in poor households.

Harnessing local capital

There is an urgent need to build the adaptive capacity of the most vulnerable communities, because extreme events such as droughts, will be exacerbated by climate change. The main question is, how do you build the resilience of highly vulnerable and under-resourced communities, with a poor skills base and often very isolated?

Based on our experience, the key opportunities for building resilience are based on developing a good understanding of the local context and using the principles of co-creation and co-learning to harness local resources. A key component of this process is understanding indigenous knowledge systems. For example, most vulnerable communities, have been exposed to some of these challenges before and have developed coping strategies to manage their situations. Such coping strategies may include post-harvest management and livelihood diversification.

 

Catalytic interventions

To ensure that vulnerable communities develop the adaptive capacity to respond to climate change, its often critical to implement catalytic interventions, such as awareness-raising, training on new farming and livelihood practices and to invest in the local economy.

This is what we will be doing over the next couple of months in selected communities in the Northern Cape Province (pictured left). Our interventions will focus on creating an enabling environment to unlock investments but at the local and landscape level. We will also build the capacity of local communities members on climate-smart practices so that they can adopt farming practices that improve productivity, supply nutritious food and bolster household incomes.

 

Carbon tax revenues could be harnessed to help South Africa’s poor

By Harald Winkler & Andrew Marquard, Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town**

Climate change needs urgent action by all countries, and by all means. All countries agreed in the Paris Agreement to keep temperature “well below 2℃” and pursue efforts to keep global temperature increase below 1.5℃. Virtually all countries have nationally determined contributions, but currently these are on a path to 3℃ or more. The negative impacts of climate change increase as the temperature increase – and the poor suffer the most.

As part of its contribution to the global effort on climate change, South Africa is introducing the Carbon Tax Act. It comes into effect on 1 June 2019 and is a great step for the country; it also puts South Africa in the company of a steadily-increasing number of countries that are pricing carbon. There are 46 national jurisdictions and 28 subnational jurisdictions that have implemented a price on carbon, or are scheduled to do so, according to the Carbon Pricing dashboard created by the World Bank

Companies in South Africa will now pay a small amount each time they emit a ton of greenhouse gases. Putting a price on carbon is a key way of responding to the climate emergency. It will also raise awareness and improve reporting on emissions. The tax revenues should be used to ensure benefits to poor communities, and the tax will need to be increased over time to provide a long-term price signal to decarbonise the economy.
How it works

The carbon tax is being introduced at a much lower rate than needed in the longer term. The nominal amount of carbon tax that a company will pay is R120 per ton CO2-eq.

But multiple allowances, including a 60% “basic” tax-free allowance, means big emitting companies pay at most R48/ton. The tax is payable by companies which exceed the threshold of carbon emissions. Other further “allowances” mean that several of South Africa’s major emitting companies will pay a minimum of R6/ton. At current exchange rates, that is as little as $0.42/ton, much lower than required globally.

The High Level Commission on Carbon Prices recently reported that by 2030, countries should be looking at a carbon price of US$50–100/tCO2. Given the rate of change of key technologies for mitigation, the appropriate tax level will have to be periodically assessed. But there is no doubt that South Africa’s current tax rate is too low to transform the economy.

The tax will be paid by companies to the South African Revenue Services (SARS). As for other taxes, SARS collects the revenue for the general fiscus. Revenue should be used for two purposes, which should be funded on budget.

To fund programmes that provide access to cleaner and safer energy to the poor. Poor households should pay less for energy under a carbon tax-revenue scheme, rather than more.

Energy-intensive firms should be able to claim transitional assistance if they pay the full tax, contribute to socio-economic development, and agree to reduce where they can. The assistance would be money clawed back by the company, to fund lower-carbon activities – until this is no longer needed.

How the tax could be used

Most important from an ethical point of view is that the tax should be implemented in a way that ensures poor communities pay less for energy. This can be done by using revenues to fund programmes to reduce energy poverty.

Various scenarios exist for carbon tax revenues, depending on whether companies on average pay R6 or R48 per ton CO2-eq. The revenues could fund the national budget for electrification – if companies paid a “medium” carbon tax of R30 per ton.

Another option is that hundreds of thousands, and up to tens of millions, of households could be given 5kg liquified petrolum gas free each month, extending free basic electricity to other energy.

A few hundred thousand better houses – warmer in winter with better insulation and with fewer health impacts due to use of cleaner fuels indoors – could be funded from carbon tax revenue. Or the country could decide to subsidise at least 100 000 rooftop solar systems per year for poor households.

The carbon tax should be complemented by other mitigation measures, such as carbon budgets for companies and a cap on greenhouse gas emission from electricity in the integrated resource plan, the country’s national electricity plan.

Given the climate emergency, all these measures need pursuing and the understanding of how they best relate to one another. Many other countries have carbon taxes, emissions trading, indirect carbon pricing and regulations, and South Africa could learn from their experiences. These countries include the EU, Scandinavian countries, China, India and increasing numbers of developing countries.

Whatever approach it takes from here, South Africa’s decision to introduce a carbon tax should be hailed as an important milestone in the transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient economy and society.

** Published under Creative Commons License. Original post can be read here

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We need a sustainable African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

Last week marked an important milestone for Africa, when the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), came into effect on 30th May. AfCFTA has major implications for Africa’s development, if its is well implemented. AfCFTA could potentially create a single market for goods and services for Africa’s 1.2 billion people, with a combined GDP of $ 2 trillion. At this scale, Africa could truely be on its way to realising its potential.

One of the major challenges hampering Africa’s development is the poor intra trade on the continent, which is at a dismal 16%. This figure might just seem like a statistic, until you try to cross any African border, whether its from Tanzania to Zambia or from Nigeria to Benin, the chaos that you encounter, corrupt officials and general insecurity is just all too stark to ignore.  So the the AfCFTA is way more important than one could imagine.

From a purely economic perspective, according to UNECA (UN Economic Commission For Africa), AfCFTA could raise trade on the continent by 15% to 25%. This could truely signal Africa’s prosperity, or is it?

Much as improved intra trade on the African continent is highly desirable, the potential for it to revolutionarise the Africa has to be tappered against other barriers and negative externalities the continent faces, like climate change.

Agriculture is Africa’s main economic driver, with very few countries having diversified into other sectors like manufacturing and services. As a result, alot of the intra-trade in Africa will still be based on agricultural goods and services as the main offering of some countries. Agriculture on the hand will be highly impacted by climate change, as increase in temperature will result in reduced yields, prevalence of diseases and extreme events such as drought and flooding. Agriculture also uses a very large amount of water, which is going to be even more scarce.

Therefore for AfCFTA to be effective, it needs to promote sustainable trade on the African continent, to enable businesses effectively adapt to the impact of climate change, while ensuring that its impact on the environment are minimised. It will be extremely callous to ignore the need for sustainable trade in promoting a united Africa, as the continent will be one of the hardest hit by climate change.