We must act now to stop the COVID crisis from undermining Africa’s energy future

By Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA)


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.

We must act now to stop the Covid crisis from undermining Africa’s energy future

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause major disruptions to societies and economies around the world, and has dealt a worrying blow to years of hard-won progress in reducing the number of people in Africa who lack access to electricity. For seven years in a row, the number of Africans living without electricity has steadily decreased, thanks to efforts from governments, businesses and civil society. But this year, it is set to rise by 13 million amid the turmoil brought by the pandemic, according to IEA analysis. The worst effects are being felt in countries such as Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger. By putting energy services out of reach of more and more people, the crisis threatens to deepen their difficulties and those of economies across Africa.

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Africa state of the climate report: an urgent call for climate-related development planning

By Blair Trewin, Lead Author of the World Meteorological Organization’s 2019 State of the Climate report for Africa

Tropical Cyclone Idai approaching the Mozambique coast on 14 March 2019 (Source: NASA)

Africa is highly vulnerable to the influence of the climate. The continent contains many of the world’s least developed countries, who have limited capacity to mitigate against the impacts of extreme events. The continent is also highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture which is at the mercy of fluctuations in rainfall from season to season. Amongst the most vulnerable areas are the semi-arid regions of the Sahel and the Greater Horn of Africa; many of these regions also suffer from unstable security situations, and in the worst cases, drought and conflict can combine to trigger famine, as in Somalia in 2011-12.

Like the rest of the world, Africa is warming. 2019 was likely the third-warmest year on record for the continent, after 2010 and 2016. Over the last 30 years, the continent has been warming at a rate of 0.3 °C to 0.4 °C per decade, a similar rate to the global average for land areas. 2019 was an especially warm year in southern Africa, where parts of South Africa, Namibia and Angola had temperatures more than 2 °C above the 1981-2010 average.

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How can island states reimagine tourism for green recovery?

Riad Meddeb, Senior Principal Advisor for Small Island Developing States, UNDP


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide. This blog is also a part of a thread looking more specifically at the impacts and responses to the COVID-19 crisis in Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Grenada’s Molinere Bay Underwater Sculpture Park, Molinere Beauséjour Marine. Credit: Grenada Tourism Authority

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have experienced great success in expanding their tourism industries, particularly over the past 10 years. The industry is an economic lifeline and driver of development for many SIDS. Their rich biodiversity and beautiful ecosystems attracted around 44 million visitors in 2019. However, global travel restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have devastated SIDS’ economies. Compared to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), export revenues from tourism represent about 9% of SIDS economies. In countries like St. Lucia and Palau, tourism revenues make up 98 and 88 percent of total exports respectively. It is a vital source of revenue for community livelihoods, disaster recovery, biodiversity and cultural heritage preservation.

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Strengthening the climate resilience of cities through cross-border co-operation

By Richard Clarke, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD)

The southern nations of West Africa are beginning to experience the second and shorter of their rainy seasons, whilst those countries further north are seeing the end of theirs. For many the happiness of seeing these rains is mixed with anxieties from memories past and current realities. Exceptionally heavy seasonal rainfall in 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2017 saw several major rivers break their banks, causing destruction of houses, bridges, roads and crops, wrecking livelihoods and displacing vast swathes of the population.

In recent weeks, floods have severely hit parts of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger and Nigeria, leading to the death of at least 107 people and affecting hundreds of thousands. In Senegal, a state of emergency has been declared following heavy rainfalls and the death of four citizens, while in Chad nearly 200,000 people have been affected. Yet again, the urgent need for immediate action to mitigate and alleviate the effects of climate change has been exposed.

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Une taxe climat européenne pourrait bénéficier aux pays exportateurs de pétrole

Par Håvard Halland, Economiste au Centre de développement de l’OCDE


Ce blog fait partie d’une série sur la lutte contre le COVID-19 dans les pays en voie de développement. Visitez la page dédiée de l’OCDE pour accéder aux données, analyses et recommandations de l’OCDE sur les impacts sanitaires, économiques, financiers et sociétaux de COVID-19 dans le monde.


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Pour relancer nos économies d’une manière durable dans le sillage de la crise due au Covid-19, l’instauration d’une tarification effective du carbone à l’échelle mondiale reste plus importante que jamais. Cependant, tant que les Etats ne parviendront pas à s’entendre sur la gravité des risques induits par le changement climatique, la mise en place d’un système mondial de taxation des gaz à effet de serre restera une perspective lointaine.

Le mécanisme d’« ajustement carbone aux frontières » envisagé par l’Union européenne (UE) pourrait toutefois être un premier pas vers une réallocation des investissements internationaux dans le sens souhaité. Ambitieux, les nouveaux objectifs climatiques de l’UE exigeront des réductions des émissions non seulement dans le secteur de l’énergie, mais aussi dans les secteurs à forte intensité énergétique comme les industries lourdes, la métallurgie, la pétrochimie, le ciment, les engrais.

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EU climate tax could benefit oil exporters

By Håvard Halland, Senior Economist at the OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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In energy-intensive sectors, a carbon border tax could shift the geography of investment.

For a green coronavirus recovery, an effective global price on carbon remains as important as ever before. However, until governments can agree on the severity of the risk posed by climate change, a global tax on greenhouse gas emissions seems a remote prospect. Nonetheless, the “carbon border adjustment mechanism” that the EU is considering could have similar effects on capital allocation – albeit on a smaller scale.

The EU’s ambitious new climate goals will require emissions reductions not only in the energy sector, but also in energy-intensive sectors such as heavy industries, metals, petrochemicals, cement, and fertilizer. To ensure a level playing field between EU companies and foreign firms not subject to EU emissions targets, the EU may implement a border tax on carbon-intensive imports. The combination of high carbon taxes within the EU and a carbon border tax would present energy-intensive industries with a new set of locational choices.

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The health of the planet and intra-generational equity – lessons learnt from a pandemic

By Milindo Chakrabarti, Professor, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, O.P. Jindal Global University, Haryana and Visiting Fellow, RIS, New Delhi, and Jhalak Aggarwal, Post-Graduate Student, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, O.P. Jindal Global University, Haryana


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


Covid-climate-enviromentAmidst the disorder ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic, the spread of the virus has curtailed human destruction of the environment. During lockdowns, less cars moved around and less companies dumped their pollutants. At a time when virtually the whole world was under lockdown, “daily global CO2 emissions decreased by 17% by early April 2020 compared with the mean 2019 levels, just under half from changes in surface transport. At their peak, emissions in individual countries decreased by 26% on average” notes a study by the Global Carbon Project published in May. Unfortunately, the trend is reversing with the easing of lockdown measures. The same study predicts that by the end of the year the estimated decline in global carbon emissions will be around 4% if restrictions are lifted, and potentially higher at around 7% if restrictions persist until the end of 2020. Furthermore, to revive and stabilise the economy, attempts are underway to relax environmental regulations and help create new livelihood opportunities to replace those destroyed by the pandemic.

If there is a link between the COVID-19 crisis and emissions declines, reversely, is there a link between the climate crisis and the emergence and spread of the Coronavirus? Continue reading

How COVID-19 could help eliminate fossil fuel subsidies

Building-better-covid19-banner

By Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Centre and special adviser to the OECD Secretary-General on development, and Håvard Halland, Senior Economist at the OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


Oil pumpjacks in Tatarstan, Russia
Photo: Yegor Aleyev/Tass/PA Images

As oil-exporting countries struggle to respond to the crisis, there is a way to make critical fiscal resources available.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit oil-exporting countries at the worst possible moment. Severely strained health systems, and the need for economic stimulus, call for unprecedented growth in public spending. At the same time, oil export revenues have plummeted, following the demand collapse caused by the pandemic and a breakdown of traditional price-setting mechanisms. As a result, many oil exporters in the low- and middle-income category will struggle to muster anything near the level of expenditure required for an efficient response to the virus. Continue reading

A new approach to the intractable problem of climate change

By François Candelon, Managing Director and Senior Partner at BCG Paris, and the Global Director of the BCG Henderson Institute, Rodolphe Charme di Carlo, Principal at BCG Paris, and Ambassador at the BCG Henderson Institute, and Yves Morieux, Managing Director and Senior Partner at BCG Middle East, BCG Fellow, and head of BCG Institute for Organization


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


climate-change-covid-19COVID-19 is climate on warp speed” said Gernot Wagner, climate economist at NYU. Both trends show exponential growth – in infected people and CO2 emissions respectively – while capacity to fight them remains limited. Still, while governments enforce emergency measures around the globe, little action on climate has happened to date. Therefore, the actual question to solve is not “what can we do?” but rather “why not now?”

Bringing an alternative and rigorously structured approach can help to find practical, impactful solutions. The concept of Smart Simplicity, applying principles of sociology to solving complex organisational problems in business and beyond, can play this role by analysing inaction from two angles. First, the systemic lens – stemming from Thomas Schelling’s work – assesses how individual behaviours combine to produce collective outcomes that cannot directly be traced back to individual motives. Second, the strategic lens, legacy of Herbert Simon’s “bounded rationality”, analyses individual behaviours within the context of problems they try to solve, with resources to mobilise and constraints to cope with. Continue reading

Time for bold initiatives to tackle inequalities and climate change

By Filippos Pierros, Minister-Counsellor, Vice-Chair of the Development Assistance Committee and the Development Centre Governing Board [i]

Green-deal-climate-change

With the resounding failure of the UN COPs to mobilize a strong international response to climate change and inequality, concerned citizens around the world are rightly beginning to show frustration and even anger. And yet, at long last on the final year before the turn of the decade, a major high-income donor of international aid publicly proclaimed it would step up to the plate and propose radical change.

The new EU Commission promised to bring to the floor a “European Green Deal” that will drastically transform the very foundations of the EU economy. The green deal has clear implications for fighting inequalities, as well as for development. The “EU can use its influence, expertise and financial resources to mobilize its neighbors and partners to join it on a sustainable path.” The EU announces a strong “green deal diplomacy” focused on supporting sustainable development globally, engaging countries to end fossil fuel subsidies, phasing out fossil-fuel based infrastructure, investing in climate finance and climate resilience, promoting green regulations, and creating an international carbon market to provide reform incentives. Continue reading