European leaders are flocking to African capitals eager to find alternatives to Russian natural gas – Ukraine’s invasion has raised hopes among their African counterparts that the continent’s lopsided relationship with Europe could tip the scales, attracting new gas investments. Despite the push to steer towards renewables.

In September, the Polish president entered Senegal to pursue gas deals. In May, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz came to seek the same, telling the German parliament in recent weeks that Europe’s energy crisis requires “cooperation with countries where it is possible to develop new gas fields” and pledged to reduce it. Greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s a turning point with the war,” said Mamadou Foul Kane, an energy adviser to the Senegalese president. “The narrative has changed.”

A flurry of European volatility has led to new or fast-tracked energy projects, with plenty of talk of what’s to come.

Italian government ministers have accompanied executives from Eni, one of the world’s largest energy companies, to Algeria, Angola and the Republic of Congo, as well as Mozambique, where an Eni-operated natural gas terminal is expected to begin supplying gas. Europe in a few days. Eni is now in discussions with the Mozambican government about an additional terminal.

And in recent weeks, officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo have embarked on an international marketing tour to attract the attention of American and European companies to new oil and gas blocks they have put up for bid. Climate activists have condemned the bid because it includes oil blocks that overlie gorilla sanctuaries as well as fragile soils that store large amounts of carbon dioxide, a planet-warming greenhouse gas.

In interviews, African leaders expressed dismay at taking the war thousands of kilometers away in Ukraine to give them the power to negotiate energy deals, and described what they saw as a double standard. After all, Europe used not only natural gas, but dirtier fuels like coal for centuries to fuel its empire building and industrialization.

Their main complaint is that developed countries should be free to burn more gas in the coming years despite the climate crisis and the need to reduce the world’s demand for fossil fuels because their citizens deserve a higher standard of living and more reliable electricity and more. The basics. But Europeans and international lenders have made it too expensive, African leaders say.

Instead, European leaders appear to be preaching to Africans about reducing carbon dioxide emissions and providing adequate financial support to help build green energy options, all while continuing to emit far more than Africa.

African Union Energy and Infrastructure Commissioner Amani Abu-Zeed said: “Two to three months ago, the Europeans who were teaching ‘no gas’ said we will negotiate.” “We are trying to survive. But instead, we are being infantilized.

A The latest political cartoon Gado, a Tanzanian artist who has gone viral on social media, captured that frustration after US climate envoy John Kerry spoke at an environmental conference in Senegal last month.

In a cartoon explaining his speech, Mr. Kerry stood on stage and made a comment that reflected the lessons many African leaders have received from their Western counterparts. “So guess what, guys?” he says, smiling next to the American flags. “Mother Nature doesn’t measure where her emissions come from. We are all responsible for this.”

A cloud of pollution comes out of his mouth when he speaks.

In his speech, Mr. Kerry noted that Africa has contributed relatively little and noted the need to address global climate change. And, in past comments, he has said that African countries have the right to use fossil fuels to develop their economies.

Some African officials argue that because natural gas is cheaper and cleaner than oil and coal, the continent should be used as a transition fuel for renewables like wind and solar, as it has been in Europe.

In an interview after Russia invaded Ukraine, Mr Kerry said the atmosphere could accommodate some new fossil fuel plants in developing countries as long as the 20 largest economies, which account for 80 per cent of the world’s emissions, did not move away from fossil fuels.

Western governments aim to promote the development of renewable energy in underdeveloped countries through the so-called fair transition and partly by underwriting new projects. Last year, the United States, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union pledged $8.5 billion in aid and loans to help South Africa transition away from coal; This flow of money is huge for renewables on the continent.

However, he was unusual. In general, Western investment in African countries in renewables is much smaller than in fossil fuel projects.

The hope in the capitals of Africa is that the European appetite means that gas facilities are not only for the export market, but also for domestic use. The stakes are huge.

Energy poverty has stifled the growth of job-creating and low-income industries. More than 600 million Africans do not have access to energy, and nearly one billion use fuelwood and charcoal fuels to heat and cook their homes, causing high levels of respiratory problems and death.

According to the International Energy Agency, every African household can be invested with 25 billion dollars by 2030.

They say that the West’s fear of burning more gas domestically in the coming years, and the fear of African countries, are misplaced in terms of climate change. This year, the International Energy Agency predicted that if African countries developed all known gas reserves, Africa’s contribution to global emissions would increase from 3 percent to just 3.5 percent.

Outside of the continent’s biggest emitters (coal-dependent South Africa, as well as established North African oil and gas producers), the 47 African countries collectively emit less than even small European economies like Greece. Those differences are likely to persist as Western investments in gas suddenly grow again.

Just this month, Britain announced up to 100 new domestic gas drilling licenses despite research from its own government saying the best way to cut energy costs in the long term is to move away from fossil fuels. In August, President Biden said he would continue to sell leases for oil and gas drilling on federal land. And in July, the Group of 7, the major industrialized democracies, watered down its pledge to end funding for fossil fuel projects abroad, saying the war presented “exceptional circumstances.”

Recognizing the double standard is just the beginning, African leaders said in an interview. Above all, Europe needs to come around to quickly supporting African gas projects, not just exports to Europe.

Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, said: “We need to move away from the grandeur and act urgently.” “Even Europe’s energy transition would not have been possible without gas. The truth is the truth.”

Lenders like the African Development Bank have been putting money into gas for years, but without an influx of money from Europe, projects could take decades to start.

With gas prices falling in Europe, the continent’s major economies have been able to replace most of Russia’s gas supplies with imports from Norway, North Africa and the United States. With Qatar expected to open the world’s largest gas facility in 2025, experts predict that most of Europe’s gas demand will be met by those countries in the coming years.

Even with the flurry of visits from European leaders to Africa, some projects and proposals face significant hurdles.

Partly state-owned Italy’s Eni has bought a floating natural gas platform off the coast of the Republic of Congo for more than half a billion dollars. After the war, visiting company officials and government officials fast-tracked the project to deliver gas the following year. In the year By 2024, the company expects to double its production through a pipeline across the Mediterranean Sea from Algeria to Italy.

Eni executives are discussing a second floating terminal in Mozambique. Offshore platforms usually provide less gas but are produced faster.

“Suddenly with the war there was a new urgency,” said an Eni spokesman, referring to the company’s policy. “It accelerated the transition to new gas sources that were already in development.”

A Senegalese energy adviser said that the visit of the German government to Senegal has not reached any agreement yet. The Senegalese government has partnered with BP and US company Cosmos Energy to develop the offshore gas field and start production next year, Cosmos reported.

Another country on the German chancellor’s itinerary has sparked talks on the long-dormant trans-Saharan pipeline project that would supply Europe with Nigerian gas through the Niger.

Last month, Mr Kerry traveled to Congo, one of Africa’s most populous and electricity-scarce countries, for a climate conference and called on President Felix Tshisekedi to withdraw blocks in environmentally sensitive areas from bidding.

According to Mr. Tshisekidi’s aide, the blocks are up for auction.

The Congolese president said in an interview in September that his country has no plans to endanger important environmental areas, but that it has every right to use gas and oil, just as the United States has done. “Asking us to change our behavior and protect our forests and not provide our resources and knowledge – it’s delusional,” Mr Tsekedi said.

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