‘Just’ energy transitions need more transparency, less gas | Climate Crisis

The spike in energy prices in Europe due to Russia’s war in Ukraine has given a new impetus to the fossil fuel projects in Asia and Africaespecially those related to gas.

Leaders attending the G20 summit that begins in Indonesia today and the ongoing COP27 climate summit in Egypt are expected to spur increased investment in oil and gas exploration.

One sign of this was the failure of the G20 climate and environment ministers to deliver a joint communique on climate action after they met in August. COP27 President-Designee Sameh Shoukry, who attended the meeting, warned that leaders could go against their climate commitments by blaming geopolitical realities and the energy crisis.

Ironically, one of the mechanisms that can be used to facilitate an undesired rotation of the gas is Equity Transition Energy Partnership (JETP)an initiative with a noble purpose.

Indeed, the JETP is a mechanism under which wealthy nations are tasked with helping emerging economies transition to clean energy while being fair and transparent with affected local communities. South Africa was a recipient of Western funding under the JETP last year, and Indonesia could be declared a beneficiary when hosting the G20.

However, the details of the JETP agreement with South Africa remain under wraps, raising concerns about the cloudiness surrounding it. Civil society groups and climate and human rights activists are stressing the need for transparency and fairness in both the procedural and substantive aspects of such agreements.

In September, South African civil society groups – led by the Life After Coal campaign and South Africa’s Financial Equity Coalition – wrote to the President’s Climate Finance Task Force (PCFTT) of country for the second time, asking for their participation and input. into consideration.

It is also unclear whether support for South Africa will come in the form of grants or loans, their total value and the conditions under which they will be awarded. How will the clean energy produced through this initiative be distributed? What role will the private sector play in distribution? These are questions the people of South Africa – and the rest of the world – have no answer to.

Similar concerns are being raised about the Indonesian deal at a time when the two main donor countries, Japan and the United States, are leading the negotiations.

Civil society organizations are calling for increased transparency around those negotiations and prioritizing the interests of workers, youth and affected communities. Moving away from fossil fuels will certainly constitute a labor transition for many communities that rely on coal work to sustain their livelihoods. Any such change that does not include the necessary training, support and compensation for these workers to find new employment cannot be considered a fair change.

Recently, civil society organizations in Indonesia published a list of requirements for the JETP being negotiated. These include the need for Indonesia’s agreement to replace the country’s centralized and extractive energy production and distribution system with a more democratic system reliant on renewable energy. The list also highlights the need for fair, transparent and accountable mechanisms in the agreement; and for human rights, local customs and cultural traditions to be honored and respected during the transition. So far, no response yet.

This lack of transparency and communication with civil society undercuts the idea of ​​a “fair” energy transition. It also raises questions about the purpose of such initiatives, especially at a time when alternatives to Russian fossil fuels are in high demand.

Currently, Indonesia is still planning to build at least 13.5 GW of electricity Charcoal energy sourceand gas development are also accounting for an increasing share of the so-called proposed solutions to today’s energy and geopolitical uncertainty.

While the specifics of Indonesia’s JETP agreement remain to be seen, the government recently announced plans to increase gas production. In Bali, a local movement is protesting the construction of an LNG gas station on a mangrove area with social and environmental implications.

The track records of Indonesia, South Africa and the G7 countries also do not inspire confidence: None of them have met the goals of the scheduled Paris climate change agreement.

We must ensure in advance that mechanisms such as the JETP, which can potentially be used as a template for climate investment in some countries, are not adopted without due consideration and public participation. owner.

In Africa, an argument being used to increase fossil fuel production is that the continent should be allowed to economically benefit from its resources in the way that historically rich countries have. However, the current gas rush in Africa, often fueled by European investments, represents a new form of energy colonialism that will lock Africa into decades with consequences. harmful effects on the front lines of climate change.

It is true that 600 million Africans do not have access to electricity and nearly 1 billion do not have clean cooking. The International Energy Agency’s Africa Energy Outlook for 2022 shows that to tackle this problem, $25 billion a year will be needed between now and 2030. Construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal ( LNG) per year will cost that money.

The reality is that fossil gas will not lead to expanding energy access for South Africa or Indonesia. Even if fossil fuel investment were made today, the infrastructure would not be ready for several years and would tie Africa to unnecessary carbon emissions for decades to come. Furthermore, it is likely that the investing European countries will look to use this gas to secure their own energy needs as a priority, meaning the African market will not see any change. to the current energy security and access landscape.

At a time when the impacts of climate change are increasing worldwide, countries and organizations are looking at the JETP agreements for South Africa and Indonesia as potential models for implementation in other regions. other places. It is important that an undesirable precedent is not set. Instead, justice, transparency and practical solutions must form the central tenets of current and future transactions of this kind.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of Al Jazeera.

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