African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina on Tuesday unveiled ambitious plans to scrap coal power stations across the continent and switch to renewable energy at United Nations climate talks on Monday.
Addressing a gathering of leaders and officials from almost 200 countries in New York, Adesina outlined efforts to shutter coal-fired power plants and build the “largest solar zone in the world” in the arid Sahel belt.
“Coal is the past, and renewable energy is the future. For us at the African Development Bank, we’re getting out of coal,” Adesina told delegates to the Climate Action Summit in Manhattan this week.
The Bank’s $500 million green baseload scheme will be rolled out in 2020 and is set to yield $5 billion of investment that will help African countries transition from coal and fossil fuel to renewable energy, said Adesina.
Adesina also talked about plans for $20 billion of investments in solar and clean energy that would provide the region’s 250 million people with 10,000 MW of electricity.
“There’s a reason God gave Africa sunlight,” said Adesina.
Presidents, princes and government ministers from around the world attended the UN’s climate summit, as they faced mounting pressure to reduce heat-trapping gas emissions and slow the global rise in temperatures.
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres also took a swipe at the “dying fossil fuel industry” and said it was still not too late to keep the global rise in temperatures below the benchmark figure of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“But it will require fundamental transformations in all aspects of society — how we grow food, use land, fuel our transport and power our economies,” said Guterres.
“We need to link climate change to a new model of development — fair globalisation — with less suffering, more justice, and harmony between people and the planet.”
The UN says mankind must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to about 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures to stave off the worst-case predictions of scientists.
The meeting was part of the run-up to the international climate talks in 2020, which is the next deadline for countries to make significant emissions reduction pledges under the 2015 global warming deal.