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France Doubles Investments in Renewable Energy in Africa

The French President will double the investments in renewable energy across Africa up to €2bn by 2020. Following the climate agreement reached in Paris last week, this shows the country’s dedication to tackling today’s biggest challenges - of creating a safe world and protected planet for the next generation.

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By the time you read this COP21 will be over, but hopefully as the ink dries the commitment made in Paris will resist fading in time. For the French Government this was an important event and as such it had to make a headline grabbing pledge.

Et voila: by 2020 it will double investments to €2bn in renewable energy – including wind farms, solar power and hydroelectric projects – across Africa. It will also triple to €1bn its contribution to the continent’s fight against desertification and other climate change challenges, and work to preserve Lake Chad.

Already the hottest continent its temperature is expected to heat up to 1.5 times faster than the global average. But it accounts of less than 4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The UN’s International Panel on Climate Change, the recognised global authority on climate science, says, “No continent will be truck as severely by the impacts of climate change as Africa. Given its geographical position, the continent will be particularly vulnerable due to the considerably limited adaptive capacity, exacerbated by widespread poverty and the existing low levels of development. Africa’s human existence and development is under threat from the adverse impacts of climate change – its population ecosystems and unique biodiversity will all be the major victims of global climate change. “

This pledge hopes to do something about it. Undeniably most of the money is going to western Africa where as The Guardian points out, “Paris has significant security interests and has deployed thousands of troops to fight Islamist militants” but Hollande argued, “France wants to set an example and show that it does not simply support African forces.” Africa will also get a “very substantial part” of the overall financial effort made by France to combat global warming which should itself be increased from €3 to €5bn by 2020.

The continent is not merely saying thanks. It has plans. It has identified what it needs. Guinean President Alpha Condé said they required not just “generalities” but “concrete proposals.” One such example is a precise budget for hydroelectric dams. It also wants a “Great Green Wall” erected from Senegal to Djibouti to prevent the desert’s dusty, dry, deathly spread. Lake Chad, a third project, is now 2.500 km². 60 years ago it was 25.000 km².

Hollande gave a moving speech to the delegates, just weeks after the horrors of the Paris attacks; “I can’t separate the fight with terrorism and the fight against global warming,” he said. “These are two big global challenges we have to face up to because we have to leave our children more than a world free of terror, we also owe them a planet protected from catastrophes.” Climate change activists still wanted to see the country shut down its 46 coal plants.

David Cameron, a man who has not been neglected by the sharp tongues of global warming campaigners, told those gathered at COP21 that the leaders of the world would fail to find the answers to their grandchildren’s questions if they didn’t reach agreement. “They would reply,” he told the conference, “What was it that was so difficult when the earth was in peril? When the sea levels were rising in 2015, where crops were failing, when deserts were expanding, what was it that was so difficult?”

Friends of the Earth hit out immediately accusing the Prime Minister of giving a speech “riven with hypocrisy because of the complete incompetence of his government on climate change at home.” Its chief executive Craig Bennett said he hoped other countries saw the UK as irrelevant rather than took their cue from it.

Cameron issued a statement after the deal was done saying, “What is so special… is that it puts the onus on every country to play its part.”

Good words. Let’s watch for action..