African leaders have opportunity to embrace a high growth, low emission future, FTI Consulting
African leaders have an opportunity to achieve long-term economic growth while minimizing environmental harm, according to a new report by FTI Consulting.
Entitled Energizing Africa: How The Continent Can Chart A Low Emissions, High Growth Path, the report notes that widespread population access to energy is fundamental to economic prosperity.
This correlation poses a particular challenge across the African continent, where leaders must find the balance between encouraging growth without increasing the climate change risks already facing the region.
The report introduces FTI Consulting’s Growth-Emissions Matrix, which shows the potential path that African nations could follow in order to achieve this ambition. The matrix ranks countries and regions into one of four groupings:
1. Established Emitters: Countries and regions with high GDP and high CO2 emissions (e.g. United States, Australia, UAE)have typically relied on CO2 intensive growth paths to drive development and improve electricity access for their citizens, using local, cheap resources on a mass scale.
2. Climate Change Champions: Countries and regions with high GDP and low CO2 emissions (e.g. EU, Sweden, Japan) have managed to successfully transition to lower-emission economies without sacrificing economic growth, mainly due to the higher use of renewable energy and nuclear power generation.
3. Potential Renewables Revolutionaries: Countries and regions with low GDP and low CO2 emissions (e.g. South Africa, Greece, China) are usually less economically developed and have lower energy consumption and access rates.
4. Problematic polluters: Countries and regions with low GDP and high CO2 (e.g. South Korea) are few in number, since the electricity generation that causes CO2 emissions typically correlates with economic development. These nations must prioritize low emissions electricity and power generation to drive growth.
With electricity and heat production contributing almost half of all CO2 emissions globally, Sub-Saharan governments will need to find a path to secure long-term economic growth and improved living standards driven by a sustainable, affordable and secure low-emission energy network.
The 2015 Paris Agreement stipulated that USD$100 billion in climate financing from developed nations would support emerging economies, and that the goal for African countries would be to use existing renewable energy and emissions reduction opportunities to achieve sustainable industrial development with minimal to zero emissions.
The report states that African leaders have a window of opportunity in which to act and must take decisive actions, including:
(a) Creating an attractive environment for foreign direct investment in the power sector;
(b) Updating all energy generation, transmission and distribution policies to increase electricity access across the continent, and;
(c) Reducing fuel subsidies in favor of lower-cost new build renewable power generation facilities.
Claire Lawrie, a Senior Managing Director in FTI Consulting’s Energy practice in South Africa, said, “There doesn’t have to be a dichotomy between economic growth and climate change. Africa is a prime location for renewable energy development, which can bring wider access to electricity and improved living standards across the region whilst at the same time mitigating the negative effect on the environment.”
Petrus Marais, a Senior Managing Director and Head of FTI Consulting South Africa, added, “Nowhere in the world is the need to balance the security, access and sustainability of energy resources with the desire for economic development more pressing than in Africa. These tough decisions can’t be put off any longer, and African governments and business leaders must now urgently work together to solve this challenge, for the good of the region and the world.”