U.S. climate envoy John Kerry warned African nations last week not to rely too heavily on natural gas in their efforts to modernize and bring electricity to millions.
Speaking on the sidelines of an African environment ministers’ conference in Dakar, Senegal, Kerry told Reuters gas can be used in the short term to transition to cleaner energy sources.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry speaks during an interview with a Reuters journalist in Dakar, Senegal September 15, 2022. (REUTERS/Christophe Van Der Perre)
“We are not saying no gas,” Kerry said. “What we are saying is, over the next few years, gas replaces coal or replaces oil.”
His comments tapped into a fundamental problem for Senegal and other energy impoverished nations in Africa. According to the International Energy Agency, more than 600 million people – nearly half of Africa’s population – lack electricity.
Many African nations say developing their oil and gas resources is critical to boosting electricity production, powering industries, and curbing energy poverty. Yet many developed nations, including the United States are curbing investments in fossil fuels to uphold hold their pledge to transition to cleaner energy by the end of the decade.
“We do not have to rush to go backward, we need to be very careful about exactly how much we are going to deploy, how it is going to be paid for, over what period of time and how do you capture the emissions.” Kerry said.
President Biden appointed Kerry to lead the State Department’s global climate policy outreach shortly after taking office in January 2021. Since then, Kerry has flown around the world to United Nations (UN) climate conferences, meetings with international heads of state, and the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
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