Phasing out fuel fossils a major debate

Phasing out fuel fossils a major debate

By Johnson Qobo

As the famous saying goes, “stone age did not end because we ran out of stones, but a new era was ushered in” the globe is at logger heads on the phasing out of fossil fuels due to its impact on climate change. The major debate is whether we abandon fossil fuels immediately, or we phase it out gradually.

Given the devastating results of climate change, like the unpredictable weather patterns and floods, the scorching heat and landslides which are disrupting economic activities and costing governments billions in trying to restore destroyed homes, washed away roads and collapsed buildings.

The call to move away from fossil fuels makes sense, especially when you look at it from the disaster point of view. The global carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are having serious damaging impact on the environment, which is killing our planet. As Richard Branson says in his book ‘Screw it, Let’s do it again’ is either we stop polluting the planet or it will kill us.

The call is urgent, but there is a tinny big problem; the global North is pushing for an immediate shift from fossil fuels and implement green technologies for production, however, the global South argues for a gradual phasing out of fossil fuels.

Africa is the lowest contributor to global carbon emission at 4 percent, and most of its economies are reliant on fossil fuels, the immediate abandonment of fossil fuel will hurt the continent. The Arab nations are also highly reliant on oil; an immediate shift without proper preparation could be devastating.

The introduction of renewable energy will impact on many industries that still use fossil fuels, such as the automobile, aviation, mines, power utilities just to mention a few. COP28 also discussed the doing away of biomass fuel for cooking and introduce clean energy for cooking, most Africans are still using wood for cooking but due to deforestation, which is a contributor to climate change, billions have been committed to phase it out by 2030.

Though it is a noble move to preserve the planet and cut down on carbon emissions, global leaders also need to be conscious about the immediate abandoning of fossil fuels; because it will lead to serious costs and possible loss of jobs.

The situation is urgent, but Africa needs space to transition out of the era of fossil fuels; a gradual migration towards green energy will be beneficial for most economies. There are technologies available in the global North that can capture carbon emissions, even though the equipment may be expensive, it can certainly help country that are heavily reliant on fossil fuels and keep their economies afloat.

Therefore a rush for Africa to migrate to green energy immediately does not make economic sense. In the meantime, Africa can apply methods of cutting down on carbon emissions while gradually phasing out fossil fuels. The South is not rejecting the phasing out of fossil fuels, but its argument is, let it be gradual.


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