Response: The International Energy Agency underestimates the risks of gas expansion for African communities, jobs and the climate

JUNE 20, 2022

Contact: Bronwen Tucker,

Today, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released a new special report on Africa. The Africa Energy Outlook 2022 suggests potential for increased gas production on the continent through 2030, even in a “sustainable” scenario – despite highlighting clear and growing risks of these assets being stranded and disrupted by climate-related disasters , and despite the IEA’s conclusion in 2021 that there is no room for further oil and gas expansion beyond existing fields and mines under a 1.5°C aligned trajectory.

The IEA also points out that African oil and gas producers have been more exposed to recent crises than others, with revenues falling the most as a result of COVID-19 and companies benefiting the least from the current surge in prices. fuel price. The new research also reveals that previous progress towards universal energy access has been reversed since the start of the pandemic with 25 million people losing access, a setback that has been exacerbated by wealthy countries that failed to meet their commitments to provide climate finance.

In response to the report, experts from Oil Change International, Earthlife Africa and Justiça Ambiental released the following statements:

Thuli Makama, Africa Program Manager, Oil Change International, said: “The IEA is wrong to suggest that more fossil gas production is part of a ‘sustainable’ future in Africa when it said no new gas beyond 2021 is aligned with 1 .5°C in the rest of the world. This narrative is dangerous, especially in light of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Africa is being transformed into a trading center for fossil fuels by the countries of the North. From the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Senegal to LNG in Mozambique, there is already unwanted pressure for Africa to fill the fossil fuel shortage. Investment models show that this rush for gas and oil has nothing to do with improving energy access for Africa. It has everything to do with supporting the fossil fuel dependent economies of the North. Africa and frontline communities will once again have to deal with the stranded investment, pollution and human rights abuses that are the hallmark of extractivism. African leaders and financial institutions must avoid this trap of the resource curse. It is a myth that fossil fuels are good for development. A fair and managed phase-out of gas production opens a much brighter path for Africa than allowing new, decades-old extraction projects to proceed.

Makoma Lekalakala, Director of Earthlife Africa, said: “With this report, the IEA has singled out Africa as the only place where gas expansion is still compatible with sustainable development. This will overwhelm frontline communities with deadly impacts and delay needed energy transitions. Resources and profits from gas production in Africa have left the continent en masse rather than providing access to energy or public goods, and the new IEA report shows that recent global crises have not only exacerbate these tendencies. Today’s new research shows that African fossil fuel producers have been the first to suffer and the last to benefit from volatility in global fuel markets over the past two years. As the outlook for fossil fuels becomes even riskier, the advice to invest in new gas infrastructure does not match the evidence provided by the IEA itself. The IEA should work to pressure Northern countries and public financial institutions to pay their fair share for the switch to renewable energy in regions like Africa, in addition to climate finance, cancellation of the debt and the losses and damages due to them.

Anabela Lemos — Director JA! Justiça Ambiental, said: “Mozambique and its people find themselves in the tragic situation of being devastated by both the causes and the effects of the climate change crisis. One of the main causes of the climate crisis is the fossil fuel industry, and right now the gas rush in Mozambique is causing land grabs, destruction of livelihoods, rights violations rights, militarization and conflict. At the same time, Mozambique is one of the countries most affected by the impacts of climate change, with an increase in floods, cyclones and droughts which have already killed, displaced and affected hundreds of thousands of people among the most vulnerable and the poorest. We must break this cycle of injustice and inhumanity, by stopping gas projects in Mozambique and around the world.

David Tong, Global Industry Program Manager, Oil Change International, said: “The IEA must clarify its message. Now there is more evidence than ever before that new oil and gas expansion is incompatible with 1.5ºC. The IEA recognized this reality in last year’s World Energy Outlook. The IEA should not have bowed to political and industry pressure and excluded an exception from its own conclusion that the expansion of new fossil fuels beyond existing fields and mines is incompatible with 1.5°C. It is critically important that the IEA does not seek to justify any further oil, gas and coal expansion with other dubious exceptions.

More background:

  • The Africa Energy Outlook 2022 analyzes recent energy trends and includes two major scenarios up to 2050: a Declared Policies Scenario (STEPS) and a Sustainable Africa Scenario (SAS), which the IEA says aims to show pathways to achieve the goals Africa’s development agenda, including universal access to energy by 2030 Notably, SAS is not aligned with the 1.5°C climate target.
  • In SAS, the IEA expects coal and oil production to decline, but gas production to continue to increase, increasing by 15% by 2030 (Figure 2.27). The IEA notes that Europe’s efforts to reduce imports from Russia could further boost their SAS production, increasing exports by 33% or 30 billion cubic meters by 2030 (Box 3.6).
  • By contrast, the IEA’s 1.5C-aligned Net Zero Emissions (NZE) scenario, which it placed at the heart of its global energy outlook in fall 2021, would see no further gas expansion. after 2021.
  • Oil Change International October 2021 Report, Sky’s Limit Africa, found that most oil and gas expansion projects in Africa are not structured to deliver local development or economic benefits, noting that:
    • 71% of new oil and gas production planned for Africa over the next three decades is at additional risk of being stranded, as it is either destined for more expensive production methods or located in a region of “new incoming”, where there are additional infrastructure costs. to start mining.
    • 66% of new oil and gas production projected in Africa by 2050 is owned by multinational companies outside of Africa.
    • Gas infrastructure is largely designed for export rather than addressing energy poverty on the continent, with 83% of LNG terminal capacity coming from operating projects or planned for export.
  • One March 2022 report of the Tyndall Center found that the window for a globally just phase-out of fossil fuels is closing fast. It showed that rich countries must phase out their extraction by 2034 for the world to maintain a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C, and that to make this outcome as equitable as possible, these countries must also dramatically increase their climate finance. to southern countries.
  • The IEA points out that rich countries are falling short of their climate finance or sustainable development targets, with poor results on energy access in particular. The article points out that: “Achieving full access to modern energy in Africa by 2030 would require an investment of $25 billion per year – about a quarter of total energy investment in Africa before the pandemic – but just over 1% of the total energy investment globally and comparable to the cost of a single large investment in an LNG terminal.
  • Alarmingly, it appears that the IEA did not consult with organizations or communities on the front lines of the impacts of fossil fuel extraction and expansion in Africa, although some fossil fuel companies and industry associations are on the list of experts who reviewed the report. .
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