COP27: Supporting Africa’s complex pathway to clean energy

The road to clean energy in Africa is dependent on whether each country across the continent can solve its own complex and unique set of political, financial, social and geographic circumstances.

Researchers from Loughborough University have travelled to Egypt to debate these issues with other experts at the COP27 summit, a global event aimed at tacking climate change.

Professor Mark Howells, of Loughborough’s department of Geography and Environment, presented findings from a paper – published recently in the journal Nature – which highlighted the distinctive challenges faced by a number of African countries all aiming to develop clean energy infrastructure.

The research featured at an event hosted by the Climate Compatible Growth (CCG) program – a £38m Government-funded initiative led by Loughborough. The event was held in Sharm El Sheik, between November 7 and November 11 as part of COP27

Prof Howells said: “It is critical to generate information, synthesize inputs and engage with policymakers - together.

“Africa is the most vulnerable continent, it is also the place where the most advanced, clean, just infrastructure and systems could be built.

“That will require effort and dedication. Not empty pledges nor ill-informed policies transplanted from elsewhere.”

Also at COP, academics presented a second Nature paper, funded by the CCG, and led by Loughborough and Imperial College London researcher Dr Abhishek Shivakumar.

The research explores the potential of open-source software designed by Loughborough, called Open Source energy MOdelling SYStem (OSeMOSYS) Global, which models the outcomes of large-scale energy systems aimed at global decarbonisation.

The annual COP (Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC) convention aims to ‘accelerate global climate action through emissions reduction, scaled-up adaptation efforts and enhanced flows of appropriate finance’.

The summit invites countries to present and discuss their plans and commitments to reduce carbon emissions and reach net-zero. It also welcomes charities, community groups, think tanks and businesses.

Loughborough’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation Professor Dan Parsons said: “The discussions at COP set the trajectory to net-zero globally.

“Bringing new research and innovation to the discussions is incredibly important so that these advances can be rapidly deployed in accelerating global reductions in carbon emissions, which is vital to curtail the extreme impacts of ongoing climate change and biodiversity loss.

“I am very proud that the team here in Loughborough are so valuably contributing to the global challenge of our time on the world stage.”


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 22/208

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2022 QS World University Rankings – the sixth year running – and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2023, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2023 and 11th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.