ECA’s “just transition” message gets nod from Nigeria

Addis Ababa, 01 June 2021 - The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) core message of “just transition” which will be the main theme in the forthcoming Ninth Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA-IX) Conference slated for Sal Island in Cabo Verde has received a major nod from Nigeria. This took place recently when the Nigerian Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, urged developing countries to adopt just transition, climate action and future prosperity to power their development pathways.


“A just energy transition for developing economies is central to the right to sustainable development and poverty eradication as enshrined in relevant global treaties including the Paris Agreement.”  Osinbajo said these in his keynote speech at the Columbia Energy Forum as he reiterated on fairness and justice as beacons of the adaptation measures deployed by the developed countries. “Globally, we are seeing wealthier nations and institutions banning all public investments in fossil (fuels), including natural gas. These moves do not appear to sufficiently take into account the principles of common but differentiated responsibility and leaving no one behind, that are enshrined into global treaties around sustainable development and climate action.”  Osinbajo noted.


In late April this year, the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of ECA announced that “Towards an African Framework for a Just Transition” would be the theme for the continent’s CCDA-IX Conference. Osinbajo’s remarks resonate with the CCDA theme and echoe the position taken by the ECA which has been advocating for support from the developed nations to boost the just transition of African economies as a key pathway for the continent’s green recovery.


“Efforts aimed to advance climate goals must first and foremost create carbon space for growing economies that have historically made negligible contributions to global emissions, and have an obligation to their people to provide access to energy for electricity, cooking, and productive uses.” Osinbajo said. “Most countries on the African continent are low emission, energy poor countries. Even tripling electricity consumption in the countries, barring South Africa, solely through natural gas would add just 0.6% to global emissions. So, limiting the development of gas projects, poses dire challenges for African nations, while making an insignificant dent in global emissions.”


While announcing the venue of the CCDA-IX slated for Cabo Verde in August, Vera Songwe the UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the ECA had urged Africa to embrace just transitions in both word and deed.


“Transformative actions should not only be about just transitions in a few sectors, but should be based on broad approaches to address the underlying causes of vulnerability and put in place mechanisms to ensure that no one is left behind.” Ms Songwe said in April. “African countries should strive to avoid the pitfalls of the past and encourage resource processing rather than simply resource extraction whilst delivering the materials the world requires for the low carbon transition. Capitalizing on this to deliver green industrialization allows Africa to bypass traditional carbon-intensive industries and instead future-proof their economies.”


This will be the first time for CCDA, which has become Africa’s premier climate forum, to be held in an African island state amplifying Africa’s ambitious adaptation action agenda that accommodates the diversity of vulnerable islands states, least developing countries, middle income and emerging economies. A post COVID-19 recovery dispensation to address health, biodiversity conservation and climate change challenges has been the critical thematic approach adopted by ECA delineating radical and audacious transformative actions.


“Such a transition is possible, but requires social, sectoral and economic transformation on a scale and within a time frame faster than any in human history.” James Murombedzi who leads the ACPC explained the quest for Africa’s just transition. “The terms of this transformation, including the requisite timelines, are heavily contested. This ‘Race to Zero’ has set the overarching objective of mobilizing all actors towards net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.”


Indeed, the Nigerian Vice President’s remarks have added impetus for the momentum for the Cabo Verde climate conference and serve as a clarion call on Africa’s voice on global climate change action agenda.  “The voices of wealthier nations are better heard, more frequently heard, that is the power configuration. There is a need for African countries to more articulately present their position at the various global fora. We might be able to get a better hearing than we’re getting.” Osinbajo noted.


The full video of Vice-President Osinbajo's speech is available here.


Issued by:

Communications Section

Economic Commission for Africa

PO Box 3001

Addis Ababa


Tel: +251 11 551 5826