Harare – The Green Deal clinched by the African Union and European Union this year is more than a boon for the climate agenda, but is also a big trade opportunity, analysts have said.
The deal was arrived at after the April 2021 High Level talks.
In a recent paper on what the deal means for the parties, analysts at the European Think Tanks Group (ETTG), the African Centre For Economic Transformation (ACET) and other institutions say the deal will contribute to sustainable economies, energy and food systems as well as preserving biodiversity and a clean environment.
The Green Deal was first proposed before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the European Commission has made it a prominent reference framework for the EU’s COVID-19 recovery package, for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and for the EU’s relations with Africa and other regions.
“Green transitions have recently taken a more prominent place in African policy debates as well. African countries have contributed almost nothing to global warming, and their per capita emissions remain low,” the European analysts say. “At the same time, many countries across the continent are particularly severely affected by climate change. Climate action is a central element in the AU’s ‘Agenda 2063: The Africa we Want’, and the AU is preparing a new climate strategy.
“The AU’s Agenda 2063 puts a strong emphasis on eradicating poverty in one generation and building shared prosperity through social and economic transformation of the continent. Accordingly, African countries and the AU have prioritised adaptation (particularly in agriculture), security of vulnerable populations against climate risks, and ensuring energy access for local populations.
“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, African leaders have called for a green stimulus programme, focusing investments on food production, water management and infrastructure with a view to addressing the socio-economic crisis resulting from COVID-19 and climate crisis at the same time.”
The agreement facilitates greater co-operation on energy transitions and promotion of renewable energy, while creating new trading opportunities that contribute to structural transformation and job creation in Africa and Europe.
Analysts, however, caution that, “At the same time, there is a risk that African decision-makers see the Green Deal as an imposed agenda, as decisions to decarbonise energy systems and phase out fossil fuels are closely related to questions of sovereignty and justice.
“In order to make co-operation on the Green Deal and green transitions fruitful for AU–EU relations, the EU institutions and member states will need to understand African countries’ strategic objectives and interests. They will need to learn from past experiences and reflect an eye-level partnership in their communications on, and approaches to, cooperation in order to gain the trust of, and jointly identify common interests with, African partners.
“The AU and member states, in turn, will need to invest more in defining their strategic objectives, in promoting socially inclusive green transitions across the continent, and in cooperating with the EU on green transitions.”