Carbon markets: dynamics shift towards Africa

Aubagne, 27 April 2012 – From 18 to 20 April, Ethiopia hosted the fourth African Carbon Forum in Addis Ababa, looking at the prospects for green, low-carbon development on the African continent. GERES, which is working on a number of clean development projects in West Africa, was invited to come and share its expertise at a day of workshops held with experts in the sector.

An increasingly sluggish regulated market

Stakeholders in the carbon market had left the last African Forum, held in Marrakesh in July 2011, in a rather gloomy mood due to the many uncertainties surrounding the forthcoming 17th Conference of the Parties in Durban. Everyone was wondering about the future of the Kyoto Protocol, which in the end was extended pending the establishment of a new framework in 2015.  The European Union immediately announced that it would continue to accept credits within its internal Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), provided that these were generated in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).  This condition has since been a cause of concern for all intermediate countries which have until the end of 2012 to sell their credits to European countries through the regulated market.

This year, many sessions at the forum focused on the collapse in the price of carbon credits on the regulated market.  On the other hand, there is still optimism concerning the voluntary market despite the fear that it might be flooded with certified credits that could no longer be traded on the regulated market, as well as new credits deriving from agricultural and forestry projects.

Africa’s gradual catch-up on the carbon markets

In any event, the outlook is rosy on the African continent which is increasingly attracting investors’ attention. Until recently, Africa accounted for less than 2% of the volume of carbon credits generated worldwide, but the EU’s change of course is beginning to make a difference: African LDCs are taking centre stage.

New initiatives to boost clean development in Africa are coming on stream.  For example, the United Nations has decided to launch a new interest-free loan scheme to help developing countries pre-fund their projects.  Capped at $100,000, these loans will become available this year.  At the same time, CDC Climat, in partnership with the West African Development Bank (WADB) and Proparco (French Development Agency (AFD) group), has announced the launch of a Carbon Fund dedicated to Africa.  With starting capital of €45 million, it includes a mechanism to assist operators with the technical aspects of setting up their projects.

It is hoped that these initiatives will drive a genuinely green dynamic process in Africa and enable the continent to make up some lost time in the field of clean energies.

GERES, confident of the quality of its programmes in West Africa

Swan Fauveaud, manager of the GERES Climate Change Unit, was invited to take part in an expert workshop upstream of the Forum.  Jointly organized by the United Nations and World Bank, the workshop focused on “promoting low-carbon energy in Africa”. This gave GERES the opportunity to talk about its ongoing projects in West Africa and the goal of disseminating improved urban stoves under fair, transparent conditions for local project developers.  “More and more agencies are getting involved in improved stove programmes in Africa”, as Swan Fauveaud observed on her return from the Forum. “What’s more, local institutions are demonstrating a much better grasp of the issues.  This is a very encouraging sign for the future”.

GERES therefore warmly welcomes these advances but cannot lose sight of the fact that its projects are first and foremost about development rather than carbon.  Improving people’s living conditions has to be the core objective, so every effort is made to ensure the emergence of high-quality programmes in West Africa within a fair, transparent, regulated framework.


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