25.1 Joint Action on Climate Change Is Africa Part of the Problem or the Solution

Jamidu Katima , Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Dar es Salaam, Da es Salaam, Tanzania
Colin Pritchard , Institute for Energy Systems, The Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Full Papers
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  • Abstract


     Climate change and the associated global warming are a major challenge in the world today: extreme weather events such as flood and droughts; food insecurity and famine; disease etc. Climate change threatens mostly the weakest economies and disadvantaged poorest people. GHG emission is considered to be responsible for this (IPCC 2007). The energy contributes about ¾ of the CO2 emissions, 1/5 of the CH4 emissions and a large quantity of N2O. It also produces NOx and CO, which are not themselves GHG, but influence chemical cycles in the atmosphere that produce or destroy GHGs (IPCC 2007).

     Although Africa is predicted to be more vulnerable to climate change than any other continent (Glantz 2005), it is the least producer of GHGs (Table 1).

     Table 1: Per capita GHG emissions in 2000 (Houghton 2003)



    with land-use

    without land-use

    Middle East & North Africa
    Sub-Saharan Africa
    North America
    Central America & Caribbean
    South America

    In order to mitigate the impact of climate change, the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol were crafted. The Kyoto Protocol legally binds Annex 1 countries to reduce their collective emissions of GHGs by 5.2% compared to the year 1990 (UNFCCC 1998).  It provides a CDM as one of the vehicles for mitigating GHG emissions, whereby Annex 1 countries may earn certified emission (CER) credits through investment in non-Annex 1 countries. Other initiatives that are similar to CDM are the World Bank’s Prototype Carbon Fund, Community Development Carbon Fund and the Bio-Carbon Fund.

     Performance of Africa in the CDM
    CDM has two purposes: (i) to assist Annex 1 countries to meet their GHG reduction commitments, and (ii) to contribute to sustainable development of the recipient non-Annex 1 country. So far Africa has 87projects with 98,577 kCER potential by 2012 compared to the rest of the developing world which have 4,185 projects with 568,254 kCER potential i.e. more than 96% of all CDM projects. The key question is why Africa is not featuring well? Will the CDM model work for Africa in the Post-Kyoto era? Or do we need a different model for Africa?

     Performance of Africa in the Prototype Carbon Fund  
    The PCF was established in 1999 as a public-private partnership aimed at catalysing the market for project-based GHG emission reductions (ERs) within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol, while contributing to sustainable development (World Bank, 1999).  Table 4 shows geographical distribution of carbon fund projects.

     Table 4: geographical distribution of CF projects (World Bank 2007)


    PCF (%)

    CDCF (%)

    BioCF (%)





    Europe and Central Asia




    Latin America and Caribbean




    South Asia




    East Asia and Pacific





     Again it can be seen that Africa is not doing well under the PCF. The same questions may be asked. Among the constraints mentioned by the World Bank Report on CF is “Low capacity of poor developing countries to identify and develop projects. Priority countries, in Africa in particular, suffer from weak business environments, and high project-related currency and country risks.” This fact will remain true post Kyoto.

     Performance of Africa in the Community Development Carbon Fund
    CDCF was created in 2002 to extend the benefits of CF to the poorest countries and to poor communities in all developing countries, which would otherwise find it difficult to attract carbon finance because of country and financial risk (World Bank, 2002). The main aim was to assist developing countries reduce their CO2 emissions and earn carbon credits. It combines community development attributes with emission reductions to create development plus carbon credits; and aims to improve the lives of the poor, and their local environment, significantly. CDCF supports a wide range of projects, such as crop residue to energy conversion, cooking stoves, biogas, mini hydropower,  waste management, wastewater treatment, fuel switching, efficient brick making etc.  By 2007 (?), 85 projects had been identified and cleared for Carbon Finance Document (CFD) preparation, for a cumulative purchase of 33.6 million tCO2e of ERs, representing a commitment of $300 million.
    Africa features strongly under this fund (38%) (Table 4). This may be attributed to a number of reasons:

    • The combined objectives of carbon credits plus community development make this particularly attractive to African counties
    • Relaxation of the constraints of country and financial risk on disbursement
    The question to as, should this be the model to follow for Post Kyoto activities?  
    Performance of Africa in the BioCarbon Fund
    The BioCF was designed to provide carbon finance to demonstrate and test projects that sequester or remove GHG in forest, agricultural, and other ecosystems (World Bank 2002). The BioCF has been set up to buy carbon credits from forestry and agriculture projects. The goal of the BioCF is to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and to improve livelihoods through the production of (non-timber) forest products. The BioCF Participants’ Committee has approved 33 projects giving an estimated $41.5 million worth of emission reductions.

     One risk involving the use of biological sinks to comply with Kyoto targets is whether the sequestered carbon will remain sequestered indefinitely. To cover this “non-permanence risk”, it is intended that the BioCF will replace the temporary carbon credits (issued from land use and forestry projects) with permanent credits generated by non-sequestration projects that are under development by other carbon funds managed by the World Bank (World Bank, 2007).

     Again under this fund Africa features prominently (Table 4). However, CO2 sequestration projects may not bring about rapid economic development in the short term, particularly when compared with CDM projects which involve multimillion dollar capital investment. 

     Performance of Africa in other carbon funds
    The performance of Africa in other funds is as follows: Netherlands CDMF (3%), Italian CF (12%), Danish Carbon Fund (15%) (World Bank, 2007)
    Although Africa's contribution to GHG emissions is very small, Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change since widespread poverty severely limits the capabilities of communities to adapt to such changes. Because of its significant capacity as a sink, Africa needs to be part of the solution to climate change problems. However, interventions that lump together Africa with other developing countries seems not be working for Africa. This fact needs to be taken into consideration when the world is negotiating post-Kyoto climate change mitigation measures.