Building a Climate-Resilient, Low-Carbon, Job-Rich Africa - rectangle

A Just Transition to Climate Resilience Could Transform Africa into a Green Powerhouse

The Continent Is Highly Vulnerable to Climate Change, However, and Needs Significant Global Investment to Adapt to Higher Temperatures, Build Low-Carbon Economies, and Create Local Green Employment

LONDON—African countries face major climate-related challenges, but at the same time they have the opportunity to achieve sustainable low-carbon economies, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report, titled “Building a Climate-Resilient, Low-Carbon, Job-Rich Africa,” identifies particular disadvantages that countries on the continent must overcome but also their potential to become a model for transforming a power system based on fossil fuels to one based on renewables.

Although Africa was responsible for only 4% of global CO2 emissions in 2019, it accounts for 35 of the 50 countries worldwide that are at greatest risk from the effects of climate change. To make the transition to climate resilience over the coming years, the continent must attract extensive global investments in decarbonization and other climate-related projects and must mobilize African leaders and the international community to realize those investments.

Patrick Dupoux, a BCG managing director and senior partner and a coauthor of the report, commented: “Urgent global action is needed to help underwrite climate adaptation measures in Africa. Even in a scenario where average temperature increases are limited to 2°C, the costs of adaptation for Africa could exceed $35 billion a year by 2050, rising to $200 billion a year by the 2070s. Unfortunately, while many countries and corporations have increased their commitments to reducing their own carbon footprint, we see no sign of increasing commitments to mobilize investments for developing nations. The $100 billion annual requirement mentioned in the Paris agreement is far from being met. We believe that a just transition to a lower-carbon planet must take into account the historic and current low levels of emissions from Africa.”

Making Progress Toward Net Zero

At the same time, however, African countries have a chance to create resilience for their economies and societies, and to advance their industrial development. To avoid disastrous consequences and seize promising opportunities, African countries and the international community should prioritize three actions:

  • Invest massively in climate adaptation. African countries must mobilize massive funds to build climate resilience. Collaboration with and financial support from the international community will be critical to achieving this.
  • Build the foundation for low-carbon, socioeconomic development. By leveraging new technologies and business models, African countries can chart their own low-carbon development paths optimized to local contexts.
  • Accelerate the creation of local green manufacturing capabilities. African countries need to harness their natural resources and local capabilities to drive the creation of localized green manufacturing hubs in renewable energy, carbon sequestration, climate-resilient food systems, and other areas. Doing so can create millions of jobs and spearhead Africa’s industrial development.

As BCG’s Dupoux observed: “The road to COP27, which will take place in Africa, needs to bring global and African leaders together to meet the financial, technological, and capacity-building challenges that will not only shape Africa’s future but also significantly affect the global path to net zero. African leaders should create sound, national climate resilience plans that identify effective responses to their countries’ specific challenges and opportunities, and richer nations should be prepared to invest in activating those plans. Developed countries that have historically contributed the most to global emissions must help unlock the required investments from both the private and public sectors.”

For further information, please contact Brian Bannister at +44 7919 393753 or bannister.brian@bcg.com.

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