Africa must overcome Western-climate hypocrisy

Feb 23, 2024

Global oil and gas mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity topped USD 350bn in 2023, outpacing 2022' total by 83%, the highest level in the past five years (Dealogic Data)  

Andrew Bakoraho Kakura

NewVision Reporter
Journalist @NewVision

By Andrew Bakoraho Kakura

Last year, global warming reached worst levels, recording 1.2 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels.

In the same year, the world witnessed record breaking multibillion dollar deals in energy sector especially in the global North.

Global oil and gas mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity topped USD 350bn in 2023, outpacing 2022' total by 83%, the highest level in the past five years (Dealogic Data)  

Admitting the enormous challenge at hand, International Energy Agency, recently noted that for decades, the share of fossil fuels in the global mix remained extremely high around 80% but fell short of directing 'super' global polluters to reduce emissions to acceptable levels or begin paying for their 'sins' through carbon credits and taxes.

With major global economic powers embracing Carbon  markets - programs and projects (Emissions Trading Systems) aimed at taming global warming, USA as signatory of UNFCC, 1992 - doesn't have one of its own save for ones initiated by her two west coast states of California and Washington ( World Economic Forum).

USA remains the second worst global polluter and number one oil producer (12million BPD) since 2012 which registered the biggest corporate purchase of 2023 as Exxon Mobil signed a $60bn deal to acquire Pioneer Natural Resources which previously made its fortune through fracking.

Recorded as the biggest oil deal not seen in the last 25 years, Experts insist the deal signaled an expensive bet that fossil fuels which climate activists want ended by 2050, will remain integral part of the global economy for a foreseeable future. Few weeks after news of the said Exxon Mobil deal, another USA based oil giant Chevron announced the purchase of Hess at $53bn.

Outside USA, Guyana which emerged as the new world's fastest oil growing country in a decade with discoveries of more than 11bn barrels of oil is another place where US consortium led by Exxon Mobil Corp that controls all oil production will this year pump about 645,000 BPD compared to 400,000 bpd in 2023.

In Africa, where for centuries, costly imperial covert operations known to curtailing and stifling African efforts to exploit and develop her natural resources are currently hiding under climate crisis, to ensure fossil fuels all over Africa remain idle by frustrating foreign investments.

Canada, the fourth world's oil producer, in its wide bid to export oil beyond USA, is soon celebrating the completion of a multipurpose 1,150km Trans Mountain Pipeline worth $23bn as Western government functionaries - legislators, multilateral lending financial institutions, Law firms, and CSOs gang against investment in a $20bn EACOP ( East African crude pipeline), regardless of the fact that Africa emits less than 5% of total global harmful green house emissions but  with 750m people living without  electricity and  clean cooking energy. Save for the high unemployment rates, income inequalities, trade and budget deficits, currency fluctuations, low rates of tax to GDP, high debt burden, poverty levels, and high rates of donor dependency, all of which must remain unchanged in the event natural resources like oil and gas are not exploited.

It's also worth noting that the majority shareholders in $20bn EACOP (East African crude pipeline) are facing several lawsuits (both civil and criminal) in domestic, East African, European Judicial courts brought largely by foreign parties to stop foreign investors save for one ruled in the favor of one majority shareholders by Paris Judicial Court in March 2023.

Endorsed amid court battles and protests from environmentalists, Canadian multipurpose infrastructure is designed to transport 890,000bpd compared to our regional $20bn EACOP meant to transport 246,000 bbls/day of Uganda's crude oil for a distance of 1,443km from Kabaale - Hoima in Uganda to the Chongoleani peninsula near Tanga port in Tanzania. 

Still strange, fighting to break the dominance of China and Russia on rare earths minerals, Norway becomes the first country in the world to approve commercial scale deep sea mining to extract minerals from the seabed amidst protests from environmentalists and scientists who condemned the move, labeling it unprecedented and extremely destructive, likely to send terrible signals to the rest of the world

Like many other controversial western countries, Germany whose total energy subsidy reached EUR 290bn in 2022, recently abandoned the planned oil subsidy cuts for farmers following the two-week protests. Such a decision from government whose representative in EU parliament has been central in fighting oil developments in Africa is a huge embarrassment not only to western governments but also to their multilateral and multifaceted lending financial institutions like

World Bank and IMF which have severally pressured African countries such as Ghana, Angola, Nigeria, Kenya and many others, to cut oil subsidies without appreciating it's net effect on inflation and cost of living.

In Kenya, oil subsidies were reinstated after violent protests that caused deaths. In Nigeria, protests caused unrest and still ongoing since late last year. 

Responding to Western indifference towards crisis, other major economic heavy weights in Asia and Middle East are slowly developing similar approaches.

Despite being the biggest investor in renewable - solar energy and wind turbines, China remains the biggest Coal builder responsible for construction of 96% of all coal power plants in 2023 (Bloomberg)

United Arab Emirates (UAE), the host of Cop 28, left climate activists enraged when it announced shortly before the climate conference that it will continue to produce oil at the same rate as long as the world demands it (UN COP28.)

Saudi' state oil giant, Aramco in twist of things, halted its plans to increase production capacity from 12bpd to 13bpd but at the same time it is investing USD 10bn into South African Richards Bay Refinery with capacity to produce 300m BPD.

In Brazil, Brazilian state oil company, Petro Bras announced plans to spend more than $100bn to boost offshore oil production in an area regarded as environmentally sensitive due to its closeness to the mouth of Amazon River (IEA)

Globally, green house gases have been accepted as the major cause of global warming and its adverse effects but how come major global economies (G7) known to have polluted the globe since the second industrial revolution in 1870 (150 years) are reactant to implement climate smart initiatives agreed under several climate conferences held since United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change –UNFCC of 1992?

And worse still, the non-compliant Global North instead pushes less industrialized Africa to comply! Why?

Do they (the economic heavy weights under G7) know something fishy about green energy revolution still unknown to Africans?

Like American farmers (USA TODAY’s) once asked; does this climate crisis exist or it's a hoax?

Accordingly, if it does, why is it that countries most affected by deadly weather calamities like extreme cold weather, strong hurricanes, cyclones, severe cloud bursts, storms, droughts, large wild fires, landslides, pollution, continue to undermine renewable energy sources earmarked as replacement of fossil fuels?

In case of USA, recently deep freezing knocked 15% of refinery in gulf coast of the country; Then the deep-sea mining to extract rare earths minerals in Norway; The deadliest landslides and violent hurricane in China and India; Europe' continuous funding of oil and gas exploration and production in Africa, Middle East, and South America.

Lastly, how about the increasing support of fossil fuels coming from key non-state actors engaged in production of non-emission technologies such as Electric Vehicles, Carbon capture technologies, Carbon credits, and Nuclear energy development!

“It is important to reduce carbon emissions to preserve the planet, but oil and natural gas should not be demonized in the medium-term, Elon Musk,” the founder of electric car maker Tesla, said during COP28 Conference.
The Continuous use of nuclear energy in Europe also undermines efforts to reduce carbon emissions elsewhere in the world.

Originally hailed as silver bullet to reduce harmful emissions, Carbon markets programs have been faulted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for failure to guide investors, corruption ridden, likely to benefit middle men as was the case with Peruvian Amazon (WSJ).

Former US President, Trump once told a political rally that solar energy is too weak to run factories as wind turbines which found to kill birds only last for 10years. Large chunks of land required for solar panels and wind turbines raised concerns as it denies farmers space for their crops.

Some of the proposed alternatives touted as replacement of fossil fuels such as solar panels and wind turbines have been associated with several risks ranging from shortened shell life, too weak to run factories, dangerous to ecosystem. 

According to USA TODAY’s, a number of counties (15%) especially ones strategically located in windiest and sunniest regions of USA are opposed to to establishment of renewable energy facilities - solar panels and wind turbines.

Citing waning demand for EVs, 3,900 auto dealers penned a letter to President Joe Biden, cautioning him to reconsider the pace of unrealistic government electric vehicle mandate (WJS) 

Reechoing concerns of EVs manufacturers, Toyota chairman and former CEO, Akio Toyoda, recently offered a dose of reality those EVs not the future but instead hybrid vehicles singling the mistrust of lithium - ion batteries.

Being tracked and traded like any other commodity, Carbon as the main product in ETS, met skepticism from key stakeholders. Commenting on the future of ETS, 

Several experts underscores they are overrated and insufficient to address the problem of climate change (Massachusetts Institute of Technology- MIT)

Reacting to carbon capture technology, “carbon capture tech a 'complete falsehood,” says Andrew Forrest, Chairman and Founder, Fortescue Metals Group during the Global Energy Transition 2022 conference in New York City, (June 14, 2022. REUTERS)

"I say for policy makers everywhere do not be the next idiot waiting for the old lie to be trotted out and say I believe in carbon sequestration. It has only failed for 75 years...It's a complete falsehood."

For African transition to clean energy, it's required to produce 300million carbon credits annually by 2030.

However, not everything is rosy with Emission Trading System (ETS) as fraud, manipulation and other forms of green washing including mispresentation were found central to the initiative hence causing skepticism among investors.

Critics on the left further insist ETS are unregulated, lack transparency, risky and less competitive, and full of falsehoods as found to misrepresent the amount of carbon reduction and only good at encouraging green washing. ('2023 World Economic Forum).

Challenges notwithstanding, the value of both compliance and voluntary carbon credits, according to Boston Consulting group, are projected to reach $850bn and $40bn by 2030.

Conclusively, given the double standards of the global north and energy crisis in Africa, our continent which is a home to the second largest ‘lungs’ of the word in the name of Tropical rain forest of Congo, we remain the lesser emitter and thus not vulnerable as westerners are found of portraying us.

Irrespective of Western position, Africa should develop her 21.5% of the world share of fossil to cause the badly needed social economic transformation on the continent. Africans lobbyists should turn to china when Western functionaries withhold funding and technology and equipment.

In terms of poor response to hostile weather, we just need to utilize our resources efficiently. The importation of old cars from Asia and Asia should stop as we move to direct our oil generated revenues to manufacture new cars on the continent.

Considering also the biblical story of Noa and floods, the world needs to possibly borrow a ‘leaf’ from the story regarding the cause of some disastrous calamities which are actually called acts of God in the context of Law subject.

Reflecting on the Noa story, disastrous floods are not only caused by human activities but also man’s behavior towards all God’s creatures.

Africans must not settle, construct factories, industries in wetland and fertile soils meant for food production. There is need for proper planning and effective enforcement of these plans by African leaders.

The writer is a Pan- Africanist Researcher and Executive Director, Safety Watch Initiatives Africa (Sawa)






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