Fossil vs Renewable?
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Fossil vs Renewable? Cloud Forests & Hydro Africa

Fossil vs Renewable?

For the world's poorest countries economic growth, including access to energy, is essential to reducing their poverty and for building resilience to climate change. Although they have generally been least responsible for climate change, many of them are experiencing some of the worst of its effects.

To achieve this most need low-cost financing, but this is increasingly being linked to climate adaptation and mitigation. This means that they are often faced with choices that are not helpful for them or for the planet overall. These choices usually include the use of fossil fuels, which often provides the cheapest way to achieve - for example - higher crop yields. Fossil fuels are also needed to build roads and to develop the infrastructure needed to support an increase in prosperity and a decrease in poverty.

For example, as this article explains, Africa has strong renewable energy options - including hydro and geothermal - but it also has huge amounts of natural gas available. However, restrictions on financing that prohibit funding of fossil fuel projects severely restrict the ability of many poorer African countries to make use of their own resources.

This study from Christian Aid desribes in more detail the drastic economic damage cause by climate chnage in Africa.

So, we have a dilemma. Do we prohibit poorer countries from using some of their own resources but not others? Should we allow some use of fossil fuels to enable pooer countries to take early steps away from poverty? Should we take more generous steps to enable them to use renewable sources wherever possible? Must we accept that some of the requirements to move away from poverty require the use of fossil fuels, whether we like it or not?

Cloud Forests & Hydroelectric Power

Much existing and planned hydroelectrcity capacity is dependent on threatened forests. Protection of these forests is a fundamental requirement for continuing viability of that hydroelectricity (hydro).

In this report Earth Security describe how cloud forests not only provide fresh, clean water but also the flow of water needed for this hydro.

A major concern highlighted in that report is the risks these forests face. With potential income from various options that involve deforestation, countries will find it increasingly difficult to prioritise climate and biodiversity in the face of their growing economic challenges.

The report proposes that cloud forest countries should be enabled and encouraged to turn the protection of their forests into "... an income-generating initiative by creating new sustainable income streams that can bundle carbon sequestration with the water services that cloud forests provide, something that has not been attempted or achieved at scale successfully before.

Cloud Forest

Renewable Energy in Africa

BloombergNEF issued this report in November 2022.

The report looks at clean energy deployment in Africa. It finds that most African countries now have long-term clean power targets, but progress towards these is often being severely delayed, and that often this is due to financing issues.

Amongst the main findings in the report are

  • Clean energy investment in Africa has reached the lowest level since 2011;
  • Investment is highly concentrated in a handful of markets;
  • Over half of Sub-Saharan Africa still lacks access to electricity;
  • Fossil fuels meet three quarters of Africa's electricity demand.


Africa solar panels