Energy for Growth Hub
Blog Dec 20, 2021

What Will ‘Net Zero’ Mean for Africa? We aim to find out.

‘Net zero’ has emerged as one of the biggest new buzzwords in global climate and energy policy. Multiple…

Shaping Energy Transitions

‘Net zero’ has emerged as one of the biggest new buzzwords in global climate and energy policy. Multiple analyses have laid out potential net zero pathways for the world’s energy systems, and high-profile pledges to achieve net zero carbon emissions have now been made by over 60% of countries and more than 30% of the world’s largest publicly-traded companies. While most of these commitments are vague and often misaligned with demonstrated policy actions, the concept of net zero is already transforming the ways in which we think about energy transformations.

At the Hub, we have been following this global discourse closely, and are struck by the extent to which global models for energy-related emissions scenarios apply a problematic lens to Africa. They typically either:

  • Ignore the region altogether;
  • Rely on anomalous economies (like South Africa) as proxies for the entire continent; or
  • Make very limited assumptions about future energy needs and economic growth.

Because these models are already playing a significant role in shaping the discourse around energy transition planning, these gaps may have enormous consequences for Africa’s energy future.

To remedy this imbalance, the Hub will bring together a working group, co-chaired by Rose and Ken Caldeira, of economists, energy modelers, and climate experts drawn largely from Africa. The group will explore how viable transition pathways to clean, low-carbon power systems can integrate a more comprehensive view of African energy issues, and prioritize local visions of the economic and climate future. In doing so, we aim to strengthen future net zero models, make global transition analyses more inclusive, and enable fairer and more constructive climate negotiations at COP27 and beyond. Watch this space.