MEPs demand a coherent EU approach to the green energy transition in developing countries

Wkimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0 Author: Andrew Owuor
Wind Turbines in Sarima Kenya.

The Development Committee says EU development aid support for renewable energy is crucial for the shift from fossil fuels to a more stable and sustainable electricity supply in Africa.

On Thursday, MEPs from the Development Committee adopted a report on EU development cooperation that supports access to energy in developing countries.

More and better-targeted funding needed

In the report, MEPs say the EU and member states need to increase the amount of development assistance they give to the energy sector, particularly in Africa, to support the clean and renewable energy transitions there. More EU investment in the green energy transition should come, they add, in the form of grants rather than loans so as not to exacerbate existing debt challenges. MEPs also say that the EU should prioritise funding for countries that currently have lower rates of access to electricity.

MEPs want the EU to lead by example in this green energy transition by stopping the financing of fossil fuel projects, encouraging development partnerships that move away from the exploitation of fossil resources and focus on clean energy use, and prioritising investment in sustainable renewable energy infrastructure in Africa. They also want clean cooking to be more prominent as a priority in EU energy cooperation given its significant impact on health, the environment and quality of life – especially for women.

Green Hydrogen

The report emphasises the role of green hydrogen as a tool to decarbonise the energy system and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 worldwide. It can, MEPs say, play an important role in the economic growth of developing countries as long as the costs – infrastructural and transport – and the social and climate impact are taken seriously into account. Any investment in renewable hydrogen should, according to MEPs, be based on international due diligence principles and be in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGs), so that exporters can stand to benefit from it as much as importing countries.

Following the vote, rapporteur Caroline Roose (Greens/EFA, BE) said: “Today we reaffirm that access to energy is a crucial human right. The EU must stop supporting fossil fuels and increase its support for renewable energies in the Global South, notably in decentralised and small-scale renewable energy systems in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The EU must pay particular attention to green hydrogen, the production of which can, despite its potential, lead to land grabbing, affect water consumption and exacerbate poverty. It must also implement a renewable energy regime that respects the rights of local communities as a precondition for achieving energy justice.”

The report was adopted by MEPs by 13 votes in favour, 1 against and 6 abstentions.

The report will now be submitted to a vote in the European Parliament as a whole in plenary.

By 2030, approximately 660 million people will still lack access to electricity and close to two billion will still rely on polluting fuels and technologies for cooking if action is not taken. Africa is home to almost 18% of the world’s population but accounts for less than 6% of global energy use, with 600 million people or 43% of the population having no access to electricity. The EU has a long tradition of energy cooperation in Africa; together with member states, it provided €13.8 billion in official development assistance (ODA) financing for SDG 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all) projects in Africa between 2014 and 2020.

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