COP27 At Sharm El Sheikh: Africa’s Chance to Break from Climate Colonialism

Reposted from Forbes

Tilak Doshi

I analyze energy economics and related public policy issues.

How refreshing! Africa’s top energy official, Amani Abou-Zeid, the African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, said earlier this month that African countries will use the UN’s COP27 climate talks in Egypt next month to advocate for “a common energy position that sees fossil fuels as necessary to expanding economies and electricity access”. No longer can it be taken for granted that countries in sub-Saharan Africa – where 600 million people lack access to electricity and use fuelwood and charcoal for cooking and heating indoors with horrendous impacts on respiratory health and mortality — will follow the International Energy Agency’s and the World Bank’s policy advice on pursuing renewable energy which is best described as magical thinking.

Shun fossil fuels, African policy makers are told, since the wind and the sun will power the continent’s quest for industrial development and higher standards of living. This policy advice is backed by coercion via vetoes in public finance and investment in fossil fuel projects by multilateral development agencies including the World Bank. But there is every hope that African countries, like China and India, will not be thwarted in their climb up the very same energy ladder from wood and coal to refined oil and natural gas derivatives that the West used in its ascent to human betterment.

Africa Awakening

Climate change models that predict an impending apocalypse with absolute certainty lack credibility among policy makers in the developing countries where the real environmental problems are linked with poverty and the lack of economic development. The West’s carbon imperialism, the corollary of the climate alarmist and Net Zero movements that has reigned in Western capitals over the past two decades, is increasingly challenged by the developing countries.

As COP26 held in Glasgow last year headed for its final day, a negotiating group of 22 countries including China and India called the “Like-Minded Developing Countries” objected to the “mitigation centric” approach of the US and EU. Diego Pacheco, Bolivia’s lead negotiator representing the LMDC said that “the developed countries are pushing this narrative of 1.5 degrees CelsiusCEL -3.3% very hard. We know that this narrative will lead them to control the world once again”.

N. J. Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber, is forthright in his view: “Africans don’t hate Oil and Gas companies. We love Oil and today we love gas even more because we know gas will give us a chance to industrialize. No country has ever been developed by fancy wind and green hydrogen. Africans see Oil and Gas as a path to success and a solution to their problems. The demonization of oil and gas companies will not work.”

European Hypocrisy

Asking Africans to leave their fossil fuels resources in the ground in return for charitable handouts and “development finance” from virtue-signalling Western governments and multilateral agencies such as the World Bank to invest on unreliable solar and wind power is not only immoral and unconscionable but plainly unworkable. As the work of Vaclav Smil has irrefutably demonstrated, no country in the world has developed without the dense energy available from fossil fuels.

Claims to the contrary by the likes of the IEA’s chief Fatih Birol seem little more than exercises in propaganda on behalf of a compromised institution that cannot be relied on for even the most basic energy policy intelligence. In a recent op-ed, Birol said “I talk to energy policymakers all the time and none of them complains of relying too much on clean energy. On the contrary, they wish they had more. They regret not moving faster to build solar and wind plants, to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and vehicles or to extend the lifetime of nuclear plants.”

Perhaps Mr. Birol needs reminding that the decimation of German industry seems all but assured by the fait accompli presented by the sabotage of both the Nordstream pipelines last month and what could be a permanent loss of the bulk of Europe’s piped gas imports from Russia whatever the outcome of the Russia-Ukraine war. No amount of solar and wind can save Germany from an ignominious retreat from its quixotic Energiewende as its citizens look for fuelwood to keep warm this winter as the shortage of natural gas tightens. Last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that five lignite-fueled power plants – the dirtiest means to produce electricity — will be reopened, “temporarily” of course.

But most revealing of all is the sheer hypocrisy of Western European governments in doing a complete about-turn in their approach to African energy projects when faced with an energy crisis of their own making, having self-sanctioned the EU from Russian gas supplies. According to the New York TimesNYT +1.8%, no slouch in the push for renewable energy and the climate crusade, “European leaders have been converging on Africa’s capital cities, eager to find alternatives to Russian natural gas.” So now that Europe needs natural gas, it is perfectly alright to override the World Bank’s refusal to fund fossil fuel investments in the continent (as elsewhere).

What Goes Around Comes Around

The critical awareness of the fossil fuel-development nexus among African leaders such as Amani Abou-Zeid and N. J. Ayub has been quickened by the energy crisis besetting the West, especially in Europe and Great Britain. Political leaders who were once spouting their virtuous commitments to the net zero policies now worry about keeping the cost-of-living crisis at bay and their citizens warm (by using fuelwood even) while asking for voluntary “demand reduction” and planning mandatory energy rationing policies. Newly installed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is standing by predecessor Liz Truss’s decision to stop climate zealot King Charles from attending the COP27 climate summit despite the King’s ‘champing at the bit’ to go. The Prime Minister himself will also not attend due to “pressing domestic engagements”.

European leaders are now clamouring for favoured trade and pricing terms in global gas markets. French President Emmanuel Macron lashed out recently at U.S. trade and energy policies which he said have created a “double standard”, with Europe left paying higher prices for its natural gas. Meanwhile, nearly a dozen US Senators are calling for the Biden administration to curb liquified natural gas exports as Americans face a surge in home heating prices this winter. EU leaders are now faced with the prospects of the Biden administration considering a moratorium on oil and gas exports to Europe to contain price pressures at home. Some might call this being “pushed under the bus” or “thrown to the wolves”.

If the depressed economic conditions during the Covid lockdowns posed profound challenges for the COP26 negotiators, the proxy war between Russia and Ukraine’s NATO backers has pushed COP27 into the geopolitical whirlwinds. As global prices for fuel, fertilizers and food surge to unprecedented levels on the back of the anti-Russia energy sanctions and decades of green energy policies, the siren song of the climate crusade against fossil fuels will dissipate at least while hard times prevail in the West. Whether it loses its grapple-hold over the affluent West’s angst-ridden psyche remains to be seen.

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Tilak Doshi

I have worked in the oil and gas sector as an economist in both private industry and in think tanks, in Asia, the Middle East and the US over the past 25 years. I focus on global energy developments from the perspective of Asian countries that remain large markets for oil, gas and coal. I have written extensively on the areas of economic development, environment and energy economics. My publications include “Singapore in a Post-Kyoto World: Energy, Environment and the Economy” published by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (2015). I won the 1984 Robert S. McNamara Research Fellow award of the World Bank and received my Ph.D. in Economics in 1992.

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October 31, 2022 6:18 am

And if they flee their poverty towards Europe, they will be “climate refugees”..

George V
Reply to  E. Schaffer
October 31, 2022 7:46 am

In 20 years, perhaps Europeans will flee to Africa as “climate policy refugees”, seeking a better living standard.

Reply to  George V
October 31, 2022 7:52 am

Yes. Global governance is colonialism on steroids.

Reply to  George V
October 31, 2022 12:54 pm

You assume they will be allowed to leave !

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  b.nice
November 1, 2022 3:34 am

“No-one wants to build a wall.”
– Walter Ulbricht, Berlin 1961

October 31, 2022 6:42 am

Against the backdrop of the war in East Europe anything is possible –  

“Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday that British navy personnel blew up the Nord Stream gas pipelines last month”

Do the Russians view the UK capability through some weird gravitational lens? We can’t stop small boats ‘escaping‘ from France.

For the moment we’re in a climate crisis limbo – until we get the ‘results’ of the CoP 27 beanfeast. My guess is the demands for climate justice cash will fall on some very near bankrupt ears.

Reply to  strativarius
October 31, 2022 1:17 pm

The RN isnt involved in policing the ‘Channel border’ with France. Theres some sort of small boat border Force and the RN just there for ‘rescues’

Reply to  strativarius
October 31, 2022 10:56 pm

Climate Justice isn’t even on the agenda for COP27 so you aren’t going to get a result on it from COP27

Len Werner
October 31, 2022 6:54 am

‘Climate Colonialism’ is one of the best terms to be invented so far in this craziness; preventing third-world development in exchange for alms on which they will become dependent is quite accurate. I will use this in any further arguments to provide the arguer with the opportunity to see themselves in that light. It just might provide the best embarrassment yet and stop this mass delusion.

Reply to  Len Werner
October 31, 2022 7:10 am

“Climate Colonialism’ is one of the best terms to be invented so far in this craziness”

Call it what it is: a new entry in the Newspeak dictionary.

Climate Justice… have you got a spare quid/dollar etc

Last edited 29 days ago by strativarius
Reply to  Len Werner
October 31, 2022 11:07 am

Yes, ‘Climate Colonialism’ is one of the best terms yet invented. And here’s another, invented by the ‘Wharf Review’ satire team in Australia: Gang Green.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
October 31, 2022 3:16 pm

How about FFS——: “Fossil Fuel Starvation”. Popped in in right places.?

Reply to  Alasdair
October 31, 2022 3:22 pm

And I’ve just thought of: NZE—-: “Net Zero Emissions” Has rather nasty connotations attached to it like Denier.
The two, of course, rather stand together.

Reply to  Len Werner
October 31, 2022 3:55 pm

I like the terms ‘Ruinables’ or ‘Unreliables’. More suitable than renewables.

Reply to  Len Werner
October 31, 2022 5:47 pm

The developing countries have always been skeptical of the whole environment movement starting from the first international conference on the environment called the Stockholm Conference presided by Maurice Strong. Indira Gandhi then prime minister of India was the leading voice of the developing countries that environmentalism (not just climate change) is just colonialism repackaged with all the virtue signaling. Most of the delegates at Stockholm were shocked to hear from the recently deposed colonial administrators lecturing them on the virtue of saving the environment when a few months back those same people in the defunct colonial office were doing the contrary. Notice how the movement are lead by kids of the privileged in both developed and developing countries?
AGW and now climate change under the UNFCCC was put on the table in 1992 at the Rio conference on Environment and Development. Practically one generation of officials from the developing countries. Skepticism was still strong on the environment agenda especially on the control of energy resources but the promise of large sum of financial and technological transfer soften the resistance.
Where is the money,? Where is the technology ? Where is the market ?
Maybe it is not as electrifying as Indira Gandhi speech at Stockholm but the developing countries are not waiting for the promises at various COPs but are demanding that the promises are fulfilled and some wiser than the rest are questioning the real motives.

ron long
October 31, 2022 7:36 am

Wow! Human beings evolved and expanded out of Africa, now maybe they lead the way out of the CAGW Jungle? Good luck to them.

Reply to  ron long
October 31, 2022 1:21 pm

Stop Oil Now comes to Africa?

October 31, 2022 8:34 am

A touch of reality, send us your money and coal. Like the word quixotic, it defines the mindset of Western leadership.

Dave Andrews
October 31, 2022 8:43 am

In terms of population Africa is the fastest growing continent and its share of world population, according to the UN, will rise from 17% to 40% by the end of this century. At that time more than 8 in 10 people will live in Africa and Asia. African and Asian natural resources are huge and by the end of the century the centre of ‘world power’ is likely to have shifted from the West, certainly from Europe and perhaps from the US, to Africa and Asia. They are not going to forgo the benefits of fossil fuels which have given the West its current dominance.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Dave Andrews
October 31, 2022 12:16 pm

Neat switch from “Africa” to “Africa and Asia”. But hardly following the logic of your argument. And of course, that depends on the strength or weakness of the Green Gang in Africa. Maybe they will be as stupid as they have been in Europe!

Nick Graves
Reply to  Mike Lowe
November 1, 2022 1:19 am

A lot of African nations suffer from government corruption.

Since Gang Green is all about corruption, one can imagine where that might lead.

Hopefully, most African nations will evolve what we in the West have devolved – commonsense.

October 31, 2022 8:58 am

“ The stakes are high: researchers have estimated that the methane in Lake Kivu could be worth up to US$42 billion over 50 years.”

This points to why trying to restrict CO2 is futile. The good people of Africa need supplies like this. We should be assisting them not hampering them.

October 31, 2022 8:59 am

Life going full circle.

October 31, 2022 9:00 am

Smart African nations will say whatever they have to say to get green loans or green handouts.

London Broil
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 31, 2022 9:41 am

Smart African nations… Good one.

Reply to  Richard Greene
October 31, 2022 12:21 pm

You mean those leaders seeking an outside $$$$ edge on political power plays locally? Aid Dollars and Euros being misused to steer elections can now use the alternate route of green $$$$.

Smart Rock
October 31, 2022 9:33 am

The Congo River has potential for 100 GW of hydro electric power, and it’s barely been tapped. Clean electricity for a large part of Africa, and no fossil fuel involved! If the climate colonialists really cared about CO2 and if they really cared about the well being of Africans, they could be promoting this instead of solar panels that can power a light bulb while the sun is shining.

Richard Page
Reply to  Smart Rock
October 31, 2022 10:40 am

Several hydro dams were built on rivers in Africa after similar projects in China were found to be a success. They quickly found out that the climate of Africa is different to the climate of China and, although the Chinese dams allowed for both hydro power and water use, in Africa there was a buildup of toxic algae that rendered the water practically undrinkable. Water is precious in Africa, too precious to be wasted on generating power when they have abundant coal, oil and gas.

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Smart Rock
October 31, 2022 11:43 am

A friend who has been involved in provision of electricity in various African countries told me one of the biggest problems of hydro on the Congo River is corruption of politicians and chiefs in every tribal group who will have power lines going through their areas wanting bribes. The problem is not logistical but corruption, crime, mismanagement and incompetence.

Honest and competent African engineers – if they ever get appointed – will not be allowed to get on with the job without political interference and kickbacks. Technological advances have showed surprising success in dealing with problems like toxic algae. The best solutions are to use all available resources that are economically viable in Africa – renewables like wind and solar are the worst being unaffordable and unreliable.

Last edited 28 days ago by Michael in Dublin
Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
October 31, 2022 8:21 pm

Those very factors you highlighted, corruption, crime, mismanagement and incompetence, are all right now destroying what was once the beautiful country of Australia.
Most of the destruction is coming from people who have realised that they are not beautiful, in the sense of attracting the opposite gender for normal procreation, especially queer folk and plain female university professors. That is observed reality, nothing to do with hate speech.
Geoff S

James Snook
October 31, 2022 9:39 am

COP’s now have elements of many of the hundreds of thousands of annual religious festivals which evolved since Homosapiens experienced what Yuval Noah Harari calls the cognitive revolution and began to create myths. 

The faithful make pilgrimage, there are ritual addresses, feasting, a bit of self flagulation and afterwards life returns to normal and nothing substantive has changed.

Reply to  James Snook
October 31, 2022 2:08 pm

Sounds like Mardi Gras, without the beads and costumes.

Andy Pattullo
October 31, 2022 10:25 am

Governments in Europe, especially northern states, have suppressed their own fossil fuel production and use, shackled their economies with massive wind and solar subsidies and protections for what amounts to unreliable and prohibitively expensive electricity, and have chased much of their heavy industry away by making their economies uncompetitive. At the same time they have worked had to prevent the least developed nations from overcoming existential problems with food, energy and development by blocking access to international capital markets for the single most important mitigating resource – cheap reliable energy.

Africans are waking up and collectively raising their middle fingers to the developed hypocrites and rightly so. I feel I should be sympathetic for the Europeans who will suffer through a long, hard, cold winter without many of their usual services and comforts but, when I think of the utter neglect for the welfare of those in less developed countries, I have a hard time summoning any empathy for the soon to be formerly-wealthy Europeans.

Reply to  Andy Pattullo
October 31, 2022 1:53 pm

I have to agree with your sentiments Andy P.
Why has it taken so long for populations in Europe to understand that the attack on fossil fuels is an attack on living standards.
Trying to go nut zero will only lead to lower living standards and poverty .
The lack of affordable energy in Africa shows every one that this is an undeniable fact.
Heavy industry is moving to Asia and the majority of the energy is powered by coal.
Europe can go to COP out 27 in Egypt and all the worlds green Nut ministers can have a talk feast .
This will make not one bit of difference and it certainly won’t help people in Europe from freezing in the coming winter when the power blackouts hit .

October 31, 2022 10:26 am

And how many coal fired power stations is China building in Africa?

Michael in Dublin
October 31, 2022 11:23 am

Notice how the pro COP27 promoters like Luke Murphy (IPPR) cannot answer straight questions and reason logically. This guy is like a stuck long playing vinyl record. His political blinkers will not allow him to look around and see reality.

Julia Hartley-Brewer rips into policy researcher over climate change

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
October 31, 2022 3:45 pm

The most important fact on the topic of wind and solar is that they consume more energy in their manufacture and system implementation than they can possibly recover over their operating life.

Anyone disputing this is ignorant of system requirements to incorporate them into a power grid. That is a long list of things that carbon demonising academics have no clue about.

At least Julia H-B tried but hard to convince zealots of anything.

Climate believer
October 31, 2022 11:43 am

“Sheer hypocrisy of Western European governments”

… knows no bounds.

October 31, 2022 12:06 pm

the visual association of COP27 banner art at the beginning of the article to “Survivor” where the best liars win is purely coincidental.

October 31, 2022 12:19 pm

With help from China debt and Russian security from Wagner

Bruce Cobb
October 31, 2022 12:49 pm

#Sham El Sheikh? Or Shamalot?

michael hart
October 31, 2022 3:31 pm

“Birol said “I talk to energy policymakers all the time and none of them complains of relying too much on clean energy. On the contrary, they wish they had more. They regret not moving faster to build solar and wind plants, to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and vehicles or to extend the lifetime of nuclear plants.””

Methinks Birol talks to himself a bit too much. While I am wholly in favour of nuclear power plants for Africa there is currently only one, in South Africa.

Ashok Patel
October 31, 2022 4:15 pm

Efficient economical progress for African/Asian countries requires more emissions to provide basic electricity to Millions that are without the same. Many Countries in Africa have very small footprint of CO2 emissions that is less than 50% of the average world per capita emissions of 4.79 tons. U.S. CO2 emissions are 15.52 tons per capita, while India’s CO2 emissions are 1.91 tons.
All developed Nations have had their share of fossil fuel use for basic progress. Now they can afford to try renewable forms of energy although that may not be reliable as standalone energy !

Last edited 28 days ago by ugaap
Reply to  Ashok Patel
October 31, 2022 4:34 pm

The heart of darkness bristles with green colonialists greedy for authoritarian control and ultimately the natural and Human Resources of this mysterious continent.
Someday: Free at last, free at last, free at last!

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Ashok Patel
October 31, 2022 5:03 pm

Nobody can “afford” worse-than-useless “renewable” energy. All wind and solar do is impoverish those foolish enough to waste their resources on it.

October 31, 2022 6:02 pm

Governments have become a real problem, they have entirely too much power. We have to find a way to take some of that power back. I don’t know what the right balance is but clearly the scales have tipped to far in the government’s favor.

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