Low carbon energy narratives and futures in Africa: Dissonant times?

On the 20th of Oct 2020, Yacob Mulugetta had a seminar at the CEMUS research Forum, titled “Low carbon energy narratives and futures in Africa: Dissonant times?”. Mulugetta is Professor of Energy and Development Policy at University College in London and among many other things he was Coordinating Lead Author of the Energy Systems chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report.

It was a very interesting talk and it raised many questions which led our discussions to last well into lunch. Professor Mulugetta’s talk is available here:

You also find his own summary of the talk below:

It is widely recognized that energy production and use is both a key reflection of the socio-economic landscape as well as a major driver of the climate challenge. Africa finds itself at the heart of a momentous global energy and climate conversation. The energy and development reality across the region evokes deep emotions about the importance of doing something about the scandal of energy poverty. As if this was not complex enough, there is a call for the region to chart out a new and responsible energy pathway: one that does not impact on the global climate system. To this end, numerous real world experiments are taking place across Africa on various ‘energy futures’ to simultaneously unlock local (and national) energy potentials and deal with major global challenges. What is also emerging is how ideas around the ‘energy-climate challenge’ play out is highly dependent on the multi-level political context and dynamics, and is thus deeply influenced by competing framings and narratives. These dominant and competing accounts, in turn, interact to shape the specific interventions and policies. This presentation/discussion will explore the dominant narratives that are shaping the African energy landscape, how these narratives are constructed and mobilized, and discuss ways to open alternative and energy possibilities that protect the wellbeing of poor communities and their climate. The talk will also sketch out the research and policy opportunities in this area.

Helena Fornstedt, Coordinator, CEMUS Research Forum

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