The world of climate change mitigation and mitigation has spawned too many concepts that Generation Z. and Millennials have played a role in promoting and advocating. With 70% of Africa’s population being youth, we must continue to educate youth to participate and advocate for a greener, more equitable, and sustainable Earth.
As we adapt to a new environmentally conscious world, we need to stay abreast of the role Africa will play in the green and sustainable world by understanding what a just transition is and what drive we as youth should have as we advocate for smarter and greener ideas.
One of the most promising outcomes of the COP27 climate conference last November was the launch of the African Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI). Many may be asking, “What is this initiative all about?”
This African-led initiative aims to significantly increase the continent’s participation in voluntary carbon markets are platforms for carbon trading: the buying and selling of credits that allow companies to release a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse cases. Essentially, carbon trading allows countries (or companies) to finance projects that reduce emissions rather than reduce their emissions.
Climate projects that benefit from this system range from reforestation and forest conservation to renewable energy and carbon-storing agricultural practices.
This could encourage investment in green technologies and projects, especially in developing countries such as Africa. The prospect of the carbon trading scheme leading to more investment in African climate projects could help Africa. The prospect of the carbon trading scheme leading to more investment in African climate projects could help Africa revenue necessary to build a renewable energy sector.
However, we are concerned that Africa is not being included in global carbon trading to the extent that it should be. According to, to Good Governance Africa, only about 2% of global climate projects funded through carbon trading were on our continent, and most of these took place in South Africa and the North Africa region.
In a newly published book, ‘A Just Transition: Making Energy Poverty History with an Energy Mix’ by NJ AYUK, some argue that we simply do not have the political will to pursue this option, which seems a rather a helpless excuse in the name of a developing continent. Others say that we lack the necessary technology or that we need a legal framework to move forward.
The creation of ACMI is very promising, but much remains to be done to ensure that Africa takes full advantage of carbon trading opportunities. And that should start now!
Rather, this should be the time when Africa ‘s participation in the carbon market is high and more youth-led startups lead the way. Technology has taken us so far that we simply cannot afford to miss this opportunity.
How carbon can simplify Africa’s path in 1997, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted the Kyoto Protocol to reduce global carbon emissions by requiring countries to limit greenhouse gas emissions according to individual targets. The protocol requires participating countries to first try to meet their hydrocarbon targets through domestic action, but if they fail to do so, the protocol allows them to meet their targets through the market.
If a country emits more than its target, it can buy ‘excess credits” from countries that have met their targets. The basic concept is that it does not matter where emissions are reduced, only that they are removed from the atmosphere one way or another.
From an environmental perspective, carbon credit trading supports emission reduction goals, by promoting a win-win situation: a hydrocarbon emitter can exceed its targets as long as it buys permits or credits that come from emission reduction projects. A typical transaction involves a developed country investing its credits in environmental projects in developing countries, which also accelerates newer, greener infrastructure that those regions might otherwise never have access to or the resources to implement.
The implications are profound. In 2019, for example, the International Emissions Trading Association commented on the potential of emissions trading to cover the cost of African countries’ National Climate Change contributions (NDCs), i.e., the actions they have pledged to take under the Paris Agreement combat climate change.
“Cross- border coordination in the form of carbon trading could cut the cost of meeting NDCs in half by 2023, making it possible to reduce emissions by 50 percent without incurring additional costs.
And from an economic perspective, carbon trading is a brilliant mechanism because it works with the reality of the world: Some nations or regions of the world (usually the developed world) are unable or unwilling to reduce their emissions far enough, while others (especially the developing world) are emit far less.
Trading carbon credits as a commodity support the needs and goals of both developed and developing countries. Africa must capitalize on carbon trading. In addition to the environmental opportunities, carbon trading is also a cash cow. The carbon trading market has grown significantly since its inception, with the value of traded carbon credits reaching $851 billion in 2021. There are now about 70 carbon pricing instruments around the world including taxes and emissions trading schemes, affecting about 23% of global emissions.
It is fascinating that carbon emissions reductions are now tracked and traded like any other commodity. And it clearly a huge market.
Unfortunately, much of Africa has so far missed the boat when it comes to participating fully in global carbon market on fair terms. In a recent report the founders of ACMI identified some of the obstacles that must be overcome for Africa to realize its potential in the carbon market. The list is extensive. Among the obstacles are;
A limited number of project developers, about 100, are operating in Africa.
There is a significant need for capital to launch carbon credit projects.
There are regulatory challenges that vary from country to country.
Fragmented assets make it difficult to implement large-scale projects.
Fostering community buy-in can be challenging, but it possible with greater influence.
Ease of doing business varies by country and community.
The Methodology for designing carbon credit projects is not always appropriate for African countries, where infrastructure may be limited, and the required validation and verification of carbon credit projects can be expensive and have long lead times.
African lacks capacity for projects verification.
The path to overcoming these obstacles will be complex and multi-faceted. One important step, I believe, will be cross-border cooperation on carbon market.
We can see the positive outcomes of such cooperation in other regions of the world. For example, the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), has expanded to cover nearly half of all European emissions since its inception in 2015. China launched its own ETS in 2021. The EU is currently planning to link its system with the independent Swiss market, while China is working to link its ETS with a regional market of Southeast Asian countries to improve cooperation for greater efficiency.
Now it time to call on leading developed countries to increase their cooperation with their African counterparts. Major emitters must be encouraged to channel investments into African environmental initiatives through the Emissions Trading Mechanism.
We should follow the example of Sweden and Rwanda. They are negotiating their own government- to-government climate finance system which in Rwanda has already restored 100,000 hectares of damaged ecosystems, created 176,000 jobs, and provided 88,000 households with off-grid renewable energy. This partnership has the potential to fund Rwanda’s ambitious 38% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. We need more African participation in collaboration like this.
African leadership in carbon trade is a MUST! African would be remiss if it did not embrace carbon trading and discuss with rich nations directing more investment to African climate projects. But more importantly, African need to take a leadership role in this area.
If they wait for an “invitation” and are not pragmatic enough to adopt carbon trading in it’s entirely, it will be difficult for Africa to catch up later.
This means that we African need to drive these discussions. We also need to make sure and have made sure that investments in African climate projects are equitable. We have already seen examples of projects where African have been shortchanged. A few years ago, for example, Kenyan farmers were promised payments for storing carbon in their soils and trees. But the market price for carbon dropped, and farmers received little.
This last thing we need is to be forced into a narrow market that victimizes Africa by allowing investors to exploit us. We need to set a fair value investment in African projects and ensure that rich countries actually pay us what is fair.
This bring us back to ACMI which was launched at COP27. It is committed to developing a transparent, practical and sustainable approach to carbon markets in Africa. This is expected to unlock billions of dollars in revenue for African climate projects and create more than 100 million jobs by 2050.
I believe that African governments, businesses, institutions and organizations should support this initiative and do everything they can to expand Africa’s role in carbon trading.
This offers the prospect of a massive contribution to the African economy, not only through job creation but also by expanding access to energy through the renewable energy projects that are being supported. At the same time, we are supporting the environment by protecting biodiversity and advancing climate action.
These benefits are too important to miss.