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.”