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Africa’s revolt against Net Zero The continent is choosing growth over Western imperialism

'Africa is starved of the energy it needs for economic development' (LIONEL HEALING/AFP FILES/AFP via Getty Images)

'Africa is starved of the energy it needs for economic development' (LIONEL HEALING/AFP FILES/AFP via Getty Images)


October 13, 2023   5 mins

For the past two centuries, human prosperity has correlated with one factor: energy, released through the burning of fossil fuels. This is a self-evident global truth. Europe and North America, the wealthiest regions on the planet, are also those with the highest per capita CO2 emissions (along with the oil-producing Gulf states); Africa, on the other hand, has the world’s lowest levels of per capita energy use — the average African consumes less electricity than a refrigerator and around 600 million people live without access to to electricity. In this sense, it’s the “greenest” continent on the planet. It’s also the poorest, with almost half a billion Africans living in extreme poverty.

More than any other resource, Africa is starved of the energy it needs for economic development. This isn’t for lack of natural endowment. Africa possesses vast reserves of coal, oil and natural gas. But extracting those resources and using them for domestic development requires money, infrastructure, expertise and institutional capacity — which Africa’s poorest nations, especially in the sub-Sahara, sadly lack. One solution is partnering with foreign energy companies — until recently, mostly European and American firms — but that means that much of the domestically produced gas and oil is then exported rather than used for local development.

Yet beyond practical difficulties, in recent years an ideological force has also come to stymie potential development: the global political creed of Net Zero.

While the phrase is already associated with straitened living standards in the West, in the developing world Net Zero threatens to lock countries into perpetual underdevelopment. So far, it has mainly taken the form of Western countries limiting overseas fossil fuel investments. As early as 2014, one study found that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the main US development finance institution, had started “to invest principally in solar, wind, and other low-emissions energy projects as part of the [Obama] administration’s effort to promote clean energy technology”.

Then, at the COP26 climate summit in 2021, the US and several European countries pledged to stop funding oil and gas projects in developing countries. The Biden administration has since gone even further, ordering a halt to investments in “carbon-intensive”, fossil fuel-based energy projects globally, and issuing new guidance for multilateral development banks such as the World Bank, “aimed at squeezing off fossil fuel financing except in certain circumstances”. The US also vowed to oppose all new coal- and oil-based projects, and to offer only “narrow support” for natural gas projects. Prior to that, the World Bank had already said it would no longer financially support oil and gas after 2019. Other international funding groups, such as the European Investment Bank, have started linking finance to climate adaptation and mitigation, curtailing or halting their funding of fossil fuel and even nuclear projects.

Meanwhile, across Africa, the Western climate-industrial complex, composed of NGOs and state development agencies, has started pouring vast amounts of money into wind and solar projects. And this combination of carrot and stick was a clear injunction to poor countries in Africa and around the world: if they want to develop, they have to do so in a “green” and “sustainable” manner. Advocates and policymakers started pushing the idea that this was totally feasible — that poor countries can generate all the energy they need from renewable sources, primarily wind and solar power. That, in other words, Africa can achieve Net Zero and industrialisation simultaneously. This claim is a delusional fantasy — and a dangerous one at that.

As Vijaya Ramachandran and Seaver Wang of the Breakthrough Institute recently observed: “No matter what advocates and policymakers say, these cheap, renewables-only scenarios remain theoretical and unproven even for wealthy countries.” And it is obviously absurd to expect some of the world’s poorest countries to achieve in a short time what even the world’s most advanced countries have failed to do in a decade. Despite trillions spent on wind and solar, solar panels and wind turbines still deliver just over 3% of global energy, while fossil fuels still account for over 80% of the global energy mix — the same as three decades ago.

The fact is that fossil fuels remain the quickest and cheapest way to kickstart economic growth, as the Chinese miracle of the past three decades shows. Even though renewables (ideally in combination with nuclear energy, which is fully carbon-free) have a role to play in the development of Africa and other poor regions, many African countries have no choice but to rely on fossil fuels in the coming years (coal, oil and natural gas) if they want to raise living standards. It will, of course, initially mean higher emissions, though not significantly: were sub-Saharan Africa to triple its electricity consumption overnight using natural gas, it would add only 0.6% to global carbon emissions. But it will also mean fewer deaths from poverty, destitution and indoor pollution, which in turn will make African countries more resilient to the effects of climate change. Conversely, demands from rich-world advocates and policymakers for developing countries to abstain from using fossil fuels “are very likely to perpetuate the extreme poverty that many Africans face”, as Ramachandran and Wang write.

Forestalling development in the name of Western middle-class luxury beliefs, themselves a product of affluence built on fossil fuel consumption, is not only immoral. It’s also a form of ideological imperialism, as the continent’s leaders have made clear to those willing to listen. In 2021, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni wrote a scathing article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Solar and Wind Force Poverty on Africa”, arguing that “Africa can’t sacrifice its future prosperity for Western climate goals” and that “Africans have a right to use reliable, cheap energy, and doing so doesn’t prevent the development of the continent’s renewables”.

Last year, the Senegalese President and former President of the African Union, Macky Sall, went further, saying that “Africa must be able to exploit its large gas reserves for another 20 or 30 years to further its development and provide access to electricity to the 600 million people who are still deprived. It would be unfair to stop us.” Yemi Osinbajo, former Vice-President of Nigeria, made the same argument: “Limiting the development of fossil fuel projects and, in particular, natural gas projects would have a profoundly negative impact on Africa.”

This isn’t just rhetoric — the African rebellion against the demands of the West has already taken material form with several new energy projects, established with or without the West’s support. For instance, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline is intended to transport crude oil from Uganda’s oil fields to the Port of Tanga on Tanzania’s eastern coast, where it will then be sold onwards to world markets. The project’s opponents include the US-based Climate Accountability Institute, France’s Friends of the Earth, and the European Parliament, who say that it will breach global emissions targets. And many Western banks — including Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC, Barclays and major French lenders — have publicly said they won’t support it.

But the governments of Uganda and Tanzania say they intend to move forward with the project regardless, arguing that they can’t afford not to exploit their natural resources while the world still runs on fossil fuels. Across the continent, part of the reason for the pushbacks is that they know that, if necessary, they can turn to an alternative superpower for funding: the China National Offshore Oil Corporation is one of the main investors in the Uganda-Tanzania pipeline. Meanwhile, other African countries — Algeria, Nigeria, Mauritania, Senegal and others — are pursuing or considering new energy projects, mostly in the field of natural gas, a relatively clean fossil fuel which could provide “transitional energy”. Several countries are also exploring nuclear energy, despite multilateral development banks’ refusal to support nuclear power plants.

The good news for Africa is that the tide has started to change in the West as well, even if for purely selfish reasons. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Europe’s decision to decouple from Russian gas have sent EU countries scouring the world for alternative supplies of gas — and Africa is the obvious choice. It has 13% of global gas reserves, only slightly less than the Middle East, and 7% of the world’s oil, as well as vast renewable energy potential. “Africa may be the answer to Europe’s immediate gas problem and its longer-term carbon one,” according to The Economist. And this is probably why, in March, the World Bank announced that it would be supporting the development of Mozambique’s massive natural gas resources, signalling an important shift in the institution’s policy.

Ultimately, we should be grateful to Africa for resisting the dangerous and inhuman ideology of Net Zero, arrogantly imposed by the West upon a world that no longer trusts them. The next step, however, is ensuring that Africa’s resources are employed first and foremost to promote the development of Africa itself, rather than to perpetuate their plundering — be it from the West, China or anyone else.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

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Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
9 months ago

Fossil fuel development is one of the best things to happen to mankind. We shouldn’t ban it; we should celebrate it.

Adam Bacon
Adam Bacon
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

Well said..

Andrew H
Andrew H
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

Hear hear!

Joe Deegan
Joe Deegan
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

Try peddling this low grade debating society nonsense as rising sea levels capsize economic growth – and not just in the Global South. https://fortune.com/2023/02/15/rising-sea-levels-death-sentence-united-nations-antonio-guterres-mega-cities-every-continent/#

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
9 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

Is that before or after the global freeze promised in the 1970s, or the population explosion? or any one of the other catastrophic ends-to-the-world that “scientists” have been warning about in order to end the current world order and bring in their idea of utopia? It’s all models, Joe. It’s all models. It’s a theory. Climate alarmism keeps millions of scientists engaged and paid for by the billionaire corporate elite who want to rule the world in perpetuity by destroying upstart nations who have the temerity to climb the economic ladder their own way.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
9 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

I’ve been waiting for any sign of this sea level rise for as long as activists have been going on about it. That’s more than twenty years! The places I visit are all sandy beaches or salt marshes, both very vulnerable to rising waters. Guess what. Not a sign!

Joe Deegan
Joe Deegan
9 months ago

Not all theory methinks Simon. And Laurence, to borrow a truism from another context: you may not be interested in stories of rising sea levels, but rising sea levels are interested in you…
https://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/is-sea-level-rise-exaggerated-ocean-fact-check/#:~:text=Scientists%20have%20been%20tracking%20sea,a%20rise%20in%20sea%20level.
https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/

Last edited 9 months ago by Joe Deegan
laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
8 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

I’ve seen this before. And much more.
As to the graph from NASA, it’s a bit dishonest. The extremely short time period makes the increase look quite large. In reality the rise is right in line with the rise that’s been going on for centuries now, long before the rise in CO2. The French port of Brest has records going back to 1807. Check out https://tidesandcurrents.NOAA.gov/sltrends/ ; hundreds of records from all around the West. We’ve been dealing with a rise of approx. 1ft/100years for a very long time. Why the sudden panic?
Even if I wasn’t interested in sea level rise I still wouldn’t like it when people try to pull the wool over my eyes.

Last edited 8 months ago by laurence scaduto
Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
9 months ago

Yes, the Maldivian atolls are doing very nicely thank you with huge investment on the Islands despite warnings they would be under water now.

Thomas Clark
Thomas Clark
9 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

These sea rise level claims come from models. Models are only ever as good as the assumptions built in to them. What we are seeing from sea rise levels so far is that the models are incorrect. The IPCC report AR6 WG1 reports a medium level confidence of some sea level rises by 2050. The extreme claims come from using a model called RCP8.5 which is an unlikely scenario well above where the world is headed.

Paul T
Paul T
8 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

Sea levels have risen 400 feet since the last glacial maximum around 28,000 years ago. Why is this last 3 foot of rise incontrovertibly down to man?

Ernesto Candelabra
Ernesto Candelabra
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor
David McKee
David McKee
9 months ago

All hail, the new colonialism! Who cares about poverty in Africa, when there’s some lovely virtue-signalling to be done? In the West, we adore what the Australian politician Paul Keating calls ‘the politics of the warm inner glow’.

These poor Africans, well, you can’t really expect them to understand climate change, can you? So we just have to give them a little pat on the head and do the thinking for them. They’ll thank us for it in the end.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Yeah, do they know it’s Christmas soon?

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
9 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

I would prefer them to be both poor and fewer in number if its better for the planet

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
9 months ago

It’s the richer countries that have the falling birth rates. There’s a lesson for you there if you’re willing to open your ears.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
9 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

And who are we to call them impoverished if we are only using Western standards? They may feel very wealthy according to their own standards.

Andrew H
Andrew H
9 months ago

This is absolutely spot on. Glad to see the West’s patronising neo-colonialism being called out for exactly what it is. Some UK-based aid organisations such as Oxfam and Comic (sic) Relief spearhead this ideology, encouraging guilty westerners to give the gift of a goat (!) – because that’s what an African will be grateful for, after all. And the only power poor Africans should be allowed is the Oxfam-friendly kind: wind and solar, i.e. intermittent and unreliable, but that’ll do for those Africans. Meanwhile, ever pragmatic China continues to pursue enlightened self-interest and ignore these hand-wringing idiots by supporting projects that deliver useful, reliable energy.

Joe Deegan
Joe Deegan
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew H

The only idiots and ideologues in this conversation are the wishful thinkers who insist that business as usual is sustainable. The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming, and the lack of seriousness on display here only strengthens the case for shutting down the global market for fossil fuels. Mudslinging won’t help Africa or stop rising sea levels.

Andrew H
Andrew H
9 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

OK, business as usual isn’t going to help. But a massive expansion of fossil-fuelled energy most certainly will help those with minimal access to energy and therefore condemned to poverty.

Last edited 9 months ago by Andrew H
Joe Deegan
Joe Deegan
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew H

Not if their homeland becomes unliveable as a consequence of extreme heat or rising sea levels.

Jane H
Jane H
9 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

The evidence to the contrary is most certainly not overwhelming although media organisations will try to convince you it is. If you’d care to do serious unbiased research, scientists certainly are not unanimous in their support of the climate catastrophe rhetoric. Quite the opposite in fact as the cracks begin to appear in the current scientific narrative.

Joe Deegan
Joe Deegan
9 months ago
Reply to  Jane H

As usual, the “cracks” objection – that a very large (yes, overwhelming by any reasonable standard) majority view doesn’t amount to consensus – betrays a failure to understand or accept what constitutes scientific evidence: the most inclusive explanation of the available data. Your idea of “serious and unbiased” clearly differs from mine. (Hint: I’m not a Daily Mail reader.)

Last edited 9 months ago by Joe Deegan
Jane H
Jane H
8 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

Resorting to insults during debate displays the lowest form of intellect.

Last edited 8 months ago by Jane H
Paul T
Paul T
8 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

Gallileo Gallilei refused to accept that he was wrong despite everyone doing their best, including by killing him, to convince him he was wrong.
He was right. The infantile argument “everyone agrees with me so there” has not won a debate in yonks, you need a new approach.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
9 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

“business as usual” in the West has meant funnelling huge resources to inadequate wind and solar farms while trying to destroy the hydrocarbons industry. That will lead to worse outcomes than any climate apocalypse.

Joe Deegan
Joe Deegan
9 months ago

The resources currently invested in renewables are dwarfed by the subsidies, incentives and short termist political cowardice that keep the fossil industries in business. Redirect investment and hydrocarbon profits on the basis of polluter pays, and green economics wins hands down.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
9 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

Please detail the subsidies given to hydrocarbons. Every time somebody posts a link to justify that claims it’s to some idea that anything less than 100% tax is arguably a subsidy. Or that energy price caps for domestic consumers are somehow a subsidy to producers. Meanwhile in the UK oil and gas companies pay a supertax on profits of 75% which has already led to cancellations of projects and thousands of job losses. Not to mention the vast compulsory and voluntary subsidies oil and gas companies invest in wind and solar. Or the legal obligation of power stations to take wind and solar generated power electricity before any other source. Very expensive for consumers as you may imagine, given the intermittency and unreliability of wind and solar.

Joe Deegan
Joe Deegan
9 months ago

It’s certainly true that a transition would/will be expensive but I think a gradualist approach is viable; more particularly, the cost need not be shouldered by the consumer. The various sources below indicate current financial flows and potential for redirection (and what should count as a subsidy). If some of these sources don’t usually make it onto your reading list, I hope you’ll give them a chance!
 https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2023-03/global-stocktake-shifting-public-financial-flows.pdf
https://www.oecd.org/fossil-fuels/
https://www.brookings.edu/articles/reforming-global-fossil-fuel-subsidies-how-the-united-states-can-restart-international-cooperation/
https://www.bbc.com/news/59233799

Last edited 9 months ago by Joe Deegan
Paul T
Paul T
8 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

Subsidies – the never-ending fentanyl dependancy of the renewables industry.

Peter Dawson
Peter Dawson
9 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

The problem you have is Scientism – “the science is certain and we own the science” – science is never certain but contingent – if the facts change scientists change their minds – and should never depend on “authority” if what they see in their investigations leads them to alternative – provable – explanations.
But of course most of them “just follow the money” and toe the line – a state of moral turpitude and corruption.

To the detriment of us all-in so many nefarious cases.

I do not take my climate science advice from a $billionaire who flies about the world in private jets – while at the same time telling the biggest and Most brazen lies in all of history – to deny us a warm and well fed comfortable life – now that we know New York was not inundated by 39ft flooding in 2012 – research your own facts – own your own opinions and you WILL be truly happy

Paul T
Paul T
8 months ago
Reply to  Joe Deegan

CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has risen from around 300 millionths to 420 millionths. When the dinosaurs were wiped out the concentration was 6,000 millionths. Are you sure CO2 is the culprit here and not changes in solar activity?

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
9 months ago

Very good and perceptive article which comes to exactly the right conclusions on the economic and moral imperative for Africa making full use of its reserves of fossil fuels.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Fazi is wrong, again. The problem is that they won’t use these reserves in a constructive manner. Corruption is a way of life in Africa, so where there is fossil fuels they will be sold and exported for cash, just in the same way as starving nations grow and export crops instead of feeding themselves.
This can’t happen with renewables.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Rather condescending, Robbie. And, of course, renewable energy can indeed be exported to the West.
Octopus Energy backs mega solar farm in Morocco to power 7 million heat pumps with cheap green power | Octopus Energy

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago

Extraordinary, they are still exporting it however!

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
9 months ago

Does the World Bank have an estimate for when an Africa-wide EV recharging network will be in operation?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
9 months ago

“the future”

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
9 months ago

This article presupposes that because Africans consume little energy, and because so many Africans are in poverty, the absence of energy must be the cause of the poverty.
This has it all backward: people consume little energy because they are poor.
They are not poor because of no fossil fuels but because of four things rarely discussed these days: 1. Incompetent governance, 2. Theft of resources by government and 3. Runaway population growth that puts downward pressure on wages and 4. The absence of education, which means that there is little value added by those who do work.
I can assure you that as someone who lives in Zimbabwe that I have never once heard anyone show any concern for net zero energy at all. Any shortages, where they exist, are not because of the Western Bogeyman but because the government have stolen the money that was supposed to be used to build new power stations and they’ve neglected and ruined the ones that still remain.
South Africa’s Eskom, likewise, has one of the dirtiest carbon footprints on the planet with 1kW of electricity producing 1kg of CO2. Do they ever talk about decarbonising it? Is South Africa’s energy woes down to net zero panic induced by pandering to Western climate activists?

No, it’s about the fact that Eskom has systematically fleeced South African tax payers of about 140 billion dollars since 2009, and built nothing with it. Nothing.
Pull the asparagus out of your ears Thomas.

Last edited 9 months ago by hayden eastwood
Chipoko
Chipoko
9 months ago

Amen! Great to have you back, Hayden!

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
8 months ago
Reply to  Chipoko

Thank you Chipoko, let’s see how long I last!

Chipoko
Chipoko
9 months ago

“Africa possesses vast reserves of coal, oil and natural gas. But extracting those resources and using them for domestic development requires money, infrastructure, expertise and institutional capacity — which Africa’s poorest nations, especially in the sub-Sahara, sadly lack. One solution is partnering with foreign energy companies — until recently, mostly European and American firms — but that means that much of the domestically produced gas and oil is then exported rather than used for local development.”
What is meant by “partnering with foreign energy companies”? How is this a solution? It seems to me a trite statement: all the more so for the follow-up point that about the oil being exported and not used for local development. Why should foreign energy companies partner with corrupt African entities (nations and businesses) in order to fund local energy needs? Africa itself needs to exploit it vast natural resources, which include the trillions upon trillions of dollars over decades of foreign aid, not to mention the trillions invested during the colonial era. But all that massive wealth has been plundered, squandered and squirrelled into overseas bank accounts by the continent’s Big Men, who’ve left the majority of their fellows to scratch a subsistence living from the earth beneath their feet. The huge population explosion in Africa (forecasts predict one billion people by the end of the 21st Century) is another disaster in that nobody anywhere, in Africa or the wider world, is acknowledging let alone addressing.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
9 months ago
Reply to  Chipoko

Africa’s own oil companies, and I have dealt with many, are hopelessly corrupt and incompetent. Especially the nationalised ones, which are the majority.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
9 months ago

“This is a self-evident global truth. Europe and North America, the wealthiest regions on the planet, are also those with the highest per capita CO2 emissions”

How meaningful are such statistics? Maybe you find out that Lichtenstein is the state with the highest per capita emission.

Actually I have looked it up and the UK is about 60th for per capita usage.
https://www.worldometers.info/co2-emissions/co2-emissions-by-country/
ahead of China which is ahead on that statistics too.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
9 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

And per capita emissions is not the only correlation.

David McKee
David McKee
9 months ago

The irony is that Africa is rich in renewable energy. The Grand Inga Dam on the River Congo should provide hydro power for almost the entire continent. Should. Problem is that Grand Inga is Africa’s equivalent of HS2. The reasons are different, but the delay’s the same.

Last edited 9 months ago by David McKee
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
9 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

I know many environmentalists. but not a single one that is in favour of dam-building. Many would rather do whatever they can to oppose and obstruct such projects.

William Shaw
William Shaw
9 months ago

The unasked question is “If Africa is so rich in natural resources why is it so poor and why are so many people living in poverty.”
I don’t mean today with the excuse of colonialism, I mean why did relatively resource poor Europe advance so spectacularly during the agricultural and industrial revolutions while Africa remained a backwater?
During the past 1000 years what has prevented Africans from developing their resources to become rich and successful?

Last edited 9 months ago by William Shaw
Bret Larson
Bret Larson
9 months ago

Which of course is the reason why per capita emissions convey no information beyond, “they may be more productive per person. What you do with those emissions, eg provide commodities for other people or go on vacations, is of the import. Course, per capita allows governments to buy votes in populous districts, so it’s not going away soon. And yes, net zero is just as dangerous for “advanced” economies.

Last edited 9 months ago by Bret Larson
Tom Condray
Tom Condray
9 months ago

A century from now historians will weigh the depredations of colonialism practiced by European countries against the benevolent energy dictatorship now practiced by our wiser heads who know best how to provide energy to Africa.
I suspect a rudimentary accounting of the deaths attributable to 19th and early 20th Century imperialism will be dwarfed by the tens of millions of African citizens who already have, and in the near future will, perish from malnutrition, disease and the other scourges of poverty while those wiser heads withhold the very means to rescue them from their wholly avoidable fate.
Pol Pot, Mao and Stalin were just amateurs compared with this crowd.

Last edited 9 months ago by Tom Condray
laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
9 months ago

So,in effect, if the Africans develop and empower themselves using gas, instead of the more problematic oil, especially considering the increases in general mechanical efficiency realized over the last hundred years, they will be far “greener” than the rest of us. Any wind or solar power they toss into the mix will just be frosting on the cake.
What a delicious irony!

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago

Excellent article and I would like to particularly endorse the point that Western opposition to hydrocarbon development in Africa is an offence to reason and decency. All on its own it disqualifies any western diplomat or politician from any entitlement to be taken seriously.

If we in the West end up importing hydrocarbon or renewable energy from Africa we are going to be very lucky that we’re even able to do so, given the disgraceful dismissive arrogance we’ve displayed towards the wholly legitimate ambition of African nations to achieve the living standards we ourselves take for granted.

Paul T
Paul T
8 months ago

There is a sleight of hand that always goes with these discussions of who exactly is “really” emitting. They will say “but we have exported our emissions so we should include those of China as our own”. This misses a large part of the whole discussion.
Did China actively seek to increase its share of global manufacturing? Yes
Did China receive fair payment for that manufacturing? Yes
Has China become rich and used that money to alleviate poverty in its own country? Yes.
Is China a grown up country, able to feed, house and employ its people; Yes.
Is it able to answer for itself and its decisions? Yes.
Is China keeping a big list of self-loathing westerners that will be rewarded for putting the west down and infantilising everyone else? No, it really isn’t.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
9 months ago

Further proof of the proposition that ”decarbonising” the economy will not happen by diktat but only by innovation leading to green technologies that are cheaper than their fossil fuel equivalents e.g. solar power has dropped in cost by 95%+ and now undercuts coal, oil and gas. It only makes sense of course if energy can be stored but fortunately lithium ion batteries have also dropped by 95%+ and other innovations suggest further falls are likely. Even in those sectors where these breakthroughs have yet to be commercialised e.g. air travel, cement or transmission promising innovations encourage long term confidence.

Africa will switch away from fossil fuels when the economics are attractive not because they are coerced or preached at.

The surprising hero of this story is George W Bush who argued for an innovation based approach twenty years ago. Those who have been proven wrong were the activists who argued for a crusade against consumption, cars, meat etc since technological solutions were unproven and improbable.

Let us be green but not dumb green.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
9 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

We look forward to these massive savings from 95% cheaper solar and batteries filtering through to our domestic bill. So far they have been illusory.
Or is it that the remaining 5% is still too expensive?

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
9 months ago

Nuclear energy is not ‘fully carbon free.’ A common misconception- the operating phase of a reactor might be (might…), but a full life cycle analysis will show that getting the fuel out of of the ground will make a nuclear reactor less carbon-efficient than a natural gas plant, and that’s before you DCO sided the carbon load of pouring the concrete for the beast itself, and the virtually unknown impact of decommissioning and making the ‘spent’ fuel safe.
You might want to build one anyway, but nuclear reactors are not carbon free over their lifecycle, nor do they run uninterruptedly to produce ‘baseload’ energy.

Mark Cook
Mark Cook
9 months ago

Neither are wind (steel , concrete and transmission infrastructure) and solar ( smelting quartz ) ….

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Cook

And the use of at least 6 18-wheel, diesel burning tractor trailers to deliver the 3 massive blades and huge pole sections to each and every installation across the land.

Howard Royse
Howard Royse
9 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Indeed, plus the carbon cost of shipping those blades and poles halfway round the planet.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Cook

Quite right! Nor did I make that claim.

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
9 months ago

This is wrong. Once the production of electricity from nuclear ( fission or fusion) becomes self sustaining it becomes carbon neutral.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
9 months ago

So you don’t believe in “cradle to grave” analysis? If so, then you would most likely have no issue with using a diesel powered electric generation station to charge automobiles, which is complete insanity.
https://cowboystatedaily.com/2023/09/30/largest-ev-charging-station-in-the-world-uses-diesel-powered-generators/

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
9 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I believe most of the early Teslas were in fact coal-fired rather than diesel-powered, but things have moved on…

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
9 months ago

And your drink in the bar this evening is free. After you’ve paid for it.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
9 months ago

Oops – ‘DCO sided’ was typed as ‘consider’, but my correcting edit didn’t take.

Peter Dawson
Peter Dawson
9 months ago

Can you link me to some data to support your assertion please? If you can’t – then don’t waste our time by posting nonsense.

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago

Your argument is intellectually dishonest if presented as a defence for renewables because renewables also present a very large CO2 emissions cost as part of their construction, maintenance and decommissioning.

As for the mining costs, I would like to see some proof that this is so large as to reduce the emissions efficiency of nuclear to below natural gas on a lifecycle basis. I simply do not believe this. I accept that in a mixed-source energy system the mining and processing of fissile reactor feedstocks will emit CO2 simply because most of our energy presently still comes from hydrocarbons. But the context of this debate is the replacement of hydrocarbon energy with alternatives, and nuclear energy has the capacity to do this at a much faster rate than renewable energy does (which is effectively never, in my opinion).

Last edited 9 months ago by John Riordan
Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago

Inhuman ideology? You’ve surpassed yourself this time Fazi.
I’ve said it many times, economic protectionism will be our undoing in this matter.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Then stop protecting inefficient renewables

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago

I’m an advocate of nuclear energy, but we still need renewables on a large scale for a balanced portfolio.

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I disagree. Given the enormous scale of development in nuclear energy required to actually displace hydrocarbons, it would be better to just go full-on nuclear.