Steckel, J. C., Hilaire, J., Jakob, M., Edenhofer, O.

Coal and carbonization in sub-Saharan Africa

in Nature Climate Change, 09.12.2019

Peer Review , Climate and Development

Economic development in sub-Saharan Africa has increased carbon emissions and will continue to do so. However, changes in emissions in the past few decades and their underlying drivers are not well understood. Here we use a Kaya decomposition to show that rising carbon intensity has played an increasingly important role in emission growth in sub-Saharan Africa since 2005. These changes have mainly been driven by the increasing use of oil, especially in the transportation sector. Combining investment data in the power sector with economic and population projections, we find that investments in new coal-fired capacity may become a major driver of future carbonization. Our results highlight the importance of making low-carbon technologies available and financially attractive to sub-Saharan African countries to avoid a lock-in of emission-intensive energy use patterns.

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