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UNFCCC Executive Secretary Highlights Africa’s Renewable Energy Potential at AMCEN

Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary13 September 2012: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres addressed Ministers at the 14th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), which is convening in Arusha, Tanzania, and emphasized that a strong COP 18 outcome could help Africa adapt to climate change and speed up its low-carbon development.

Speaking on 13 September, Figueres said Africa has the opportunity to leapfrog energy infrastructure, with renewable energy as the "springboard." She highlighted that Africa has significant renewable energy potential, citing examples related to solar, mini-hydro, large hydro and geothermal power. In respect to solar, she noted that national policies need to be in place to make it competitive with the alternatives and with respect to diesel generators and grid extension, but emphasized that, in many areas, it is already cheaper and competitive, and "can support decentralized cheap local mini-grids in remote areas."

She said governments at the Doha Climate Change Conference must: transition seamlessly to a science- and rule-based second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol; agree a vision for a universal agreement that benefits all; fill in ambition shortfalls, both mitigation and finance, before and after 2020; make implementation of support infrastructure for developing countries concrete and progressively more intensive; and address the continuity and adequate scale of finance.

She noted that, thanks to AMCEN, Africa has emerged as an increasingly organized and influential force in the climate change talks. In conclusion, she said the success of the "emerging climate change regime is the answer for Africa," and "Africa has the power to help ensure that success." [Executive Secretary Figueres' Statement to AMCEN]