AFRICA – African Development president Akinwumi Adesina unveiled ambitious plans to scrap coal power stations across the continent and switch to renewable energy, reports ITWeb.

Addressing leaders and officials from almost 200 countries at the gathering in New York Adesina at the United Nations (UN) climate talks, he outlined efforts to shutter coal-fired power plants and build the largest solar zone in the world in the arid Sahel belt.

The investment will include US$620 million in infrastructure spending on the Medupi power plant to meet global emission standards and about US$100 million to support power transmission in Mpumalanga.

“Coal is the past, and renewable energy is the future. For us at the African Development Bank, we’re getting out of coal,” Adesina said.

The bank’s US$500 million green baseload scheme will be rolled out in 2020 and is set to yield US$5 billion of investment that will help African countries transition from coal and fossil fuel to renewable energy, said Adesina.

He also talked about plans for US$20 billion of investments in solar and clean energy that would the region’s 250 million people with 10 000MW of electricity.

“There’s a reason God gave Africa sunlight,” said Adesina.

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 scientists’ worst-case predictions.

Meanwhile, Bukelwa Nzimande, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Africa, comments: “The South African government can no longer ignore the climate crisis.

“There is no debate and the science is crystal clear: our reliance on coal means that our air is toxic, greenhouse gases are out of control, and we are killing our oceans. We need acts of unprecedented political courage from our leaders to prevent the most severe consequences for our planet by staying below 1.5-degrees Celsius.”

South African coal exports are approaching long-term decline, according to a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis that was published this month.