Villagers in formerly densely forested areas of Africa’s continent are beginning to notice that their land is in great demand.
Enhancing Climate Credentials
Thousands of trees have been planted in Kenya’s Gazi Bay due to nearly ten years of coordinated efforts to offset the carbon dioxide released by foreign governments and businesses looking to boost their climate credentials. This project is arguably the most well-known mangrove restoration project on the continent. This project was one of Africa’s earliest forays into the carbon market, where permits to emit greenhouse gases can be purchased or sold.
Since then, hundreds of related schemes have emerged throughout the continent, and African governments are now attempting to profit from this rapidly expanding international market. Vast areas of the continent are covered with forests, which the U.N. estimates occupy over 674 million hectares of land or 22.7% of Africa. Agricultural and Food Organization. Deep in the Congo Basin, the Cuvette-Centrale Peatlands can store up to 30 billion tons of carbon, or three years’ worth of global emissions.
In areas like Gazi, mangrove forests along the water have expanded. These woods are better at removing carbon from the atmosphere than their equivalents on land. Large international carbon credit companies like Blue Forest and the World Resources Institute sponsor community-led volunteer programs in Kenya, Mozambique, and Ivory Coast to restore thousands of hectares of forest.
Africa is home to many of these carbon credit programs. However, the continent is still largely excluded from the carbon market despite having significantly lower emissions and more severe climate change effects than many other regions.
Only 14% of all carbon credits awarded between 2002 and 2020 come from Africa. Gabon became the first nation in Africa to receive incentives totaling $17 million from the Central African Forest Initiative in 2021 for lowering carbon emissions through forest protection.
Markets for carbon emissions may be free-floating or regulated by global agreements. Companies that want to create carbon credits must hire independent third-party verifiers under voluntary programs, which are more advanced in Africa, to ensure that carbon emissions would have been released regardless of the credit.
According to the United Nations development agency, one tradeable carbon credit is equivalent to one ton of greenhouse gas, typically between $10 and $100 per ton of carbon dioxide. In Africa, a ton of carbon costs roughly $10 or less, whereas in Europe, it costs between $80 and $90, and in the U.S., it costs between $140.
During the upcoming United Nations conference of parties, known as COP27, scheduled for Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt in November, Africa hopes to push for better and more consistent prices on carbon.
It all comes down to bookkeeping, Fotuhi added. He said that to make the most of carbon offset programs, “African governments need to meticulously account for their nature-based carbon stocks as well as their greenhouse gas emissions.”
Since many people in Africa are already experiencing the effects of climate change due to storms, high heat, and drought, most African governments are laying out strategies to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels. According to the African Development Bank, it would cost between $3.5 and $4 trillion to combat climate change by 2030 for nations to adapt and lessen their dependency on fossil fuels.
Agnes Kalibata, head of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, said: “Even though Africa is sucking up carbon from the atmosphere, which is a major global benefit, we cannot afford to be part of the problem.”
She continued that more climate financing for Africa via carbon credits would significantly aid the continent in adapting, especially in the case of food and agricultural systems vulnerable to climate change.
In particular, Kalibata said, “farmers are the custodians and managers of the majority of the world’s carbon stocks” and that carbon markets may and should be “more equitable.”
Jean Paul’s Assumption
According to Jean-Paul Adam, head of the U.N.’s climate division, “carbon offsets present a chance for Africa to tap into the value of its natural assets.” African Economic Commission.
But he continued: “Barriers to this becoming a substantial financing opportunity, however, have remained the relatively low cost of carbon and insufficient capacity in African financial markets.”
Countries must submit their plans for reducing their carbon emissions to the U.N.
Moreover, He added that if there is greater “clarity” regarding these goals, countries will be able to play “a more prominent role in global carbon markets.” in what is referred to as nationally defined contributions, which are a component of the 2015 Paris Agreement and are not legally obligatory.