Contact us
Climate talks: Dennis Onono on the potential offered by innovative sustainable technology projects in Africa
31 August 2023

Climate talks: Dennis Onono on the potential offered by innovative sustainable technology projects in Africa

5 minute read
Corporate climate action
Dennis Onono Associate Director - Technology Strategy, Community Projects
Helen Ziegler Assistant, Strategic Events, Communications

With the United Nations Africa Climate Week in full swing, and COP28 in view, we chatted to Dennis Onono, our Associate Director of Community Projects, to find out more about the top topics that are affecting carbon and beyond in Africa today.

From climate finance to the most innovative climate action projects, Dennis has over fifteen years of experience in renewable energy space and clean cooking technologies, and has helped set up pilots and scale up the business for leading companies in Africa.

Ahead of the Africa Climate Week happening in Nairobi, which topics do you see as being the most important to the discussions this year?

There are three issues at the top of my mind for Africa Climate Week: the integrity and transparency of carbon markets, the renewable energy transition, and climate finance.

Carbon markets, especially the VCM, have been hotly debated in recent months, with some questioning the integrity of carbon projects and the credits they issue. We see this as a good thing; it makes sure that projects result in real environmental impact. The fact that performance is being constantly debated, evaluated and lessons learned carried into work and methodologies is a sign of a healthy system. Any credible climate solution or system should be continuously improved to apply the latest available scientific insights and technologies, among others.

Another major topic at Africa Climate Week is the renewable energy transition. It is essential that we accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal. While there have been big recent advancements in renewable technology, much more needs to be done, by both public and private actors, when it comes to creating stronger policy incentives and increasing investments in clean energy infrastructure.

Finally, funding mechanisms and financial support for mitigation and adaptation efforts, especially in developing countries, are likely to remain a central point of discussion. There has been a shift recently: more and more countries are working on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, specifically on making sure that they have the necessary plans, capabilities, and instruments in place to attract the potential investments that market-based mechanisms under Article 6 can provide. For those still wrapping their heads around all the climate jargon: in the simplest terms, Article 6 defines the rules of engagement in international compliance carbon markets under the Paris Agreement. It recognises that countries can – and should – work together, in a results-based way, to meet their national climate targets.

And what would you say are the most innovative and effective ways of channeling finance to address these issues?

Collaborations between government agencies, private companies, and nonprofits – or so-called Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) – can make use of different expertise and resources to finance and implement climate projects on a large scale. They are one of the most effective collaborative mechanisms we have available at the moment to address these complex challenges.

Climate funds also provide crucial financing. Investment platforms can pool the resources of governments, IGOs, and the private sector and direct them towards sustainable projects, where the finance is needed most. Examples include the Landscape Resilience Fund, which provides funding to SMEs located in areas where climate risks are particularly high.

Finally, impact investors can fund projects and companies with the potential to create positive environmental and social impacts alongside financial returns. Again, these projects can be quite diverse: from renewable energy to sustainable agriculture and clean technology, there is so much potential in implementing different project types and harnessing various technologies to generate climate impact for all.

Carbon finance is improving access to clean cooking solutions for communities around the world, from offering subsidies to helping small manufacturers to use more durable materials and scale.

Carbon finance is improving access to clean cooking solutions for communities around the world, from offering subsidies to helping small manufacturers to use more durable materials and scale.

But a lot of these projects' impact goes “beyond carbon", is that right? Can you tell me a little more about the co-benefits of these different projects?

Climate projects are unique in their proposition: their impact often reaches beyond “just emissions", with measurable benefits for communities, nature, and sustainable development on the ground.

With community-based projects, new job opportunities are created for communities through producing, selling and marketing cookstoves, for example. Implementing clean cookstoves has a number of health benefits as well: they improve air quality, which in turn reduces indoor pollution and leads to less (respiratory) diseases.

Sustainable agriculture practices, like agroforestry and organic farming, create healthier soils. This isn't just good for the soil; it also leads to better water retention and nutrient cycling and improves productivity significantly. Once these farming systems are diverse, they allow farmers to be more resilient to climate extremes and reduce climate risk. On top of that, sustainable agricultural practices can also contribute to local food security by promoting diverse crops and reducing soil degradation.

How do these climate projects create impact on a national scale and contribute to global climate goals?

In funding, scaling, and integrating these projects into national strategies, countries have a unique opportunity to reinforce their own ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change and fulfill their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs):

Many climate projects directly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, renewable energy projects replace fossil fuels with clean energy sources, resulting in lower carbon emissions. When these projects are implemented on a large scale, they contribute to a significant reduction in a country's overall carbon footprint. As we all know, shifting to sustainable solutions is not free, so another critical aspect of these projects is that they actually help finance these new clean technologies, and with that a more fair transition – especially in emerging economies.

Other project types capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as trees and plants grow, for example. These are known as afforestation and reforestation projects. These projects help to offset emissions and contribute to global net zero.

In setting climate goals, and integrating these projects into national policies and strategies, countries can ensure that they are aligned with climate goals, and be a part of the worldwide movement to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5°C – the figure climate scientists currently define as the threshold of safety. Creating climate impact across the board requires finance, but above all a cohesive and coordinated approach. These projects are a key component in that effort.

Contact our experts today
Want to find out more about our projects?
Contact our experts today

From clean cookstoves to agriculture, African climate projects create real, sustainable climate impact.

Available Languages