Africa ready to embrace a low-carbon future

April 20, 2012

Carbon reduction can be combined with development and rising incomes

(Addis Ababa, 20 April 2012) With a record number of 1,200 registered participants, this year’s Africa Carbon Forum (ACF) demonstrated that Africa represents a golden opportunity for a green future.
The annual forum is the leading knowledge-sharing and carbon trade platform in Africa. The event, which this year was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, brought together project developers, service providers, buyers and sellers of carbon credits, and various other private and public sector stakeholders. All are hoping to tap the potential of carbon finance to promote low carbon development on the continent.
Judging by the success of the conference, Kai-Uwe Schmidt, team lead of Carbon Finance Assist at the World Bank, called the ACF one of the key climate events in Africa.
“This conference definitely exceeded our expectations.” he said, “especially in terms of the remarkable increase in the breadth and depth of the interactions among policymakers, experts, and practitioners from the public and private sectors. It has been a great place to see peers exchanging knowledge and collaborating on major issues, including low-carbon development strategies, action plans, climate, and carbon finance."
Participants attended workshops and lectures highlighting emerging approaches for low carbon development in Africa, topics ranging from Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), new market mechanisms and the possibilities and challenges of the CDM on the continent. There was also ample opportunity for side discussions and networking.
John Kilani, Director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Sustainable Development Mechanisms, said the conference showed that Africa is ready to actualize its potential toward a green growth economy.
“My wish is that participants will leave this conference knowing that Africa is now ready to participate actively in the CDM, while also remaining engaged in any discussion or consideration for new market approaches,” he said.
The high number of participants at the Forum, and the active interest and engagement shown by these participants, confirmed the statement made by Kurt Lonsway, Manager at the Environment and Climate Change Division of the African Development Bank, during the opening Plenary session, namely that increasing economic development on the continent means that “There is no better time than now to promote green and low carbon growth in Africa.”
Africa currently has 85 registered CDM projects, representing just over 2 percent of the more than 4,000 projects registered. Recent data from the UNEP Risoe Centre shows that in the last three years there has been a significant increase in the number of CDM projects initiated in Africa compared to other regions of the world, a trend that is likely to continue.
The ACF clearly demonstrated what was signalled during the Conference of the Parties in Durban, namely that the carbon markets and climate finance will continue to be part of the global response to climate change. “As a founding member of the Nairobi Framework Partnership it was very rewarding to witness the growing interest in the CDM and the commitment to low-carbon development in Africa from all participants” said Miriam Hinostroza, Head of the Energy and Carbon Finance Programme at UNEP Risoe Centre.
Youba Sokona of the African Climate Policy Centre said the forum highlighted the desire of carbon market actors to delve deeper into a discussion on how to develop the continent’s green economy. “These are fundamental issues…and for the next forum, I feel we should have more discussion to better inform the green growth perspective,” he said.
In addition to government representatives, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), universities and private sector actors also contributed to the event. The presence of the private sector can’t be underestimated, said Henry Derwent, President and CEO of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA).
“Africa Carbon Forum 2012 has shown that Africa has now enthusiastically absorbed the message that carbon reduction can be combined with development and increased income,” he said. “The world now needs to translate that enthusiasm into economic demand.”
This sentiment on the importance of the private sector was echoed by Yannick Glemarec, Executive Coordinator, UNDP-GEF, and Director of Environmental Finance, EEG. “It was promising to see the continuous private sector engagement in carbon finance and the high interest in scaled-up programmatic CDM. We are confident that Africa will be able to deliver climate change mitigation at scale.”
The Africa Carbon Forum is organized under the auspices of the Nairobi Framework, an initiative launched to help developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, increase their participation in the CDM. This year’s event was organised by the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), the African Development Bank, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and its UNEP Risø Centre, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the World Bank and its World Bank Institute. In addition, this year’s Forum was kindly and very effectively supported by the Ethiopian Environmental Protection Agency.
About the CDM:
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) allows projects in developing countries that lower their greenhouse gas emissions to earn certified emission reductions (CERs), each credit equivalent to one tonne of CO2. These CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialized countries to a meet a part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
The mechanism stimulates sustainable development and the reduction of greenhouse gases, while giving industrialized countries some flexibility in how they meet their emission targets.

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