Although Africa has contributed relatively little to the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions, the continent has suffered some of the world’s worst impacts of climate change, from famine to flooding to heatwaves to drought. But despite these challenges, the Africa continent also has enormous potential when it comes to climate action.
Three African countries – Eritrea, Morocco, and Rwanda – and Papua New Guinea shared specific examples of what they are doing to combat climate change during Africa Climate Week, which took place at the beginning of this month in Libreville, Gabon.
The four countries were participating in the 24th round of a technical analysis of their biennial update reports – feeding into collective progress toward achieving the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Biennial update reports, which are submitted by developing countries every two years, include the status of a country’s greenhouse gas emissions, and information on how the country is cutting emissions, as well as receiving support to do so.
During the technical analysis in Libreville, the four countries presented their biennial update reports and emphasized their commitment to use renewable energy and forest resources to combat the climate crisis. The following summarizes some of the key points contained in those reports.
Rwanda: Unleashing the Potential of Solar Energy
In Rwanda, emissions from the energy sector have been increasing by approximately 1% per year since 2015. With an average 5 hours of peak sunshine per day, there is great potential to increase the shares of off-grid to 42% and connect 326,884 households through solar mini-grids. The Government of Rwanda wants to tap into this potential to electrify rural areas with mini-grid solar PVs by creating tax exemptions on solar PV materials. This demonstrates the possibility of reducing the cost of access to electricity for rural households and avoiding government investment in transmission infrastructures. The estimated mitigation potential of the adoption of mini-grid solar PVs could reach 1.3 Mt CO2eq from 2020 to 2030.
Eritrea: Decarbonizing Electricity Generation
In Eritrea, decarbonizing electricity generation remains a priority when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases. The country wants to introduce renewable energy to improve the security of its electricity supply, minimize dependence on unsustainable imported fossil fuel use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the national power generation system. The country plans to introduce 50 MW of solar power, 40 MW of wind power and 30 MW of geothermal energy into the existing national grid by 2030. Additionally, with the implementation of a 15MW mini-grid hybrid system and promotion of individual solar home systems ongoing in rural areas, Eritrea aims to avoid 113 kt of CO2 emissions per year by 2030 from electricity generation.
Morocco: Investing in Sustainable Agriculture
The agriculture sector accounts for the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Morocco. The country is implementing a total of 13 projects, with an estimated cost of US $5.3 billion between 2020 and 2030 to cut emissions by 19% of the cumulative scenario benchmark for the agriculture sector for the same period. Examples include using agroforestry to enhance carbon reserves, using renewable energy in agricultural production and adopting sustainable agriculture practices. These measures are further described in two strategic plans ” Green Morocco Plan ” and ” Generation Green 2020-2030.”
Papua New Guinea: Addressing Deforestation
Papua New Guinea holds one of the largest zones of intact tropical forests in the world. Deforestation and forest degradation are responsible for 90% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Papua New Guinea’s overarching target in the agriculture, forestry and other land use sector is to halt the upward trend of greenhouse gas emissions due to increased deforestation and forest degradation by 2030 through REDD+. The REDD+ programme will address issues of unsustainable commercial agriculture, especially palm oil development, as well as improve the sustainability of timber supply and coordinate land use planning. The estimated emission reductions from the implementation of the REDD+ is 26 Mt CO2 eq by 2030.
While these four countries continue to enhance their efforts to take climate action, they also highlighted the need for financial resources and technical support to scale-up measures to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.