US climate envoy John Kerry advises against long-term gas projects in Africa

  • Mr Kerry said those investing in long-term gas projects would be unable to recoup their investments beyond 2030.
  • That’s because the world is transitioning away from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources.
  • But African countries need as much energy as they can get to fast-track their development.

John Kerry, who currently serves as the United States’ special presidential envoy for climate, has argued against the viability of long-term gas projects in Africa.

According to him, those investing in such gas projects would struggle to recoup their investments beyond 2030. He advised on the need to be cautious about such long-term investments.

Mr Kerry stated this while speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of the African environment ministers’ conference in Dakar, Senegal.

“We do not have to rush to go backward, we need to be very careful about exactly how much we are going to deploy, how it is going to be paid for, over what period and how do you capture the emissions,” he said.

He further clarified that he is not totally against oil and gas. Instead, oil and gas should only serve as a transition to cleaner energy, especially now that the world is trying to do away with fossil fuels.

Note that Mr Kerry’s argument is coming at a critical moment in the energy transition conversation.

Whereas many countries in the Western world are vocal about the need to transition to cleaner energy, many African countries are just getting ready to start harnessing their oil and gas reserves to generate electricity that would power their industrialisation.

Meanwhile, the West is worried about the negative impacts this would have in the long term, given greenhouse emissions and climate change.

African countries currently account for a small proportion of global carbon emissions. And that’s because industrialisation on the continent is just picking up pace, unlike the reality in many Western countries.

Unfortunately, many African countries have been suffering disproportionately from the devastating effects of climate change, be it in the form of chronic drought in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia and northern Kenya) desertification in the Sahel or flooding in South Sudan and elsewhere.

Regardless of the challenges, many African countries are determined to make adequate use of their oil and gas reserves to power their industrialisation.

In the same vein, they have shown interest in cleaner energy sources and are willing to work with developed countries to build climate resilience projects across the continent.

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