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01.Nature-based Climate Change Mitigation

Explore the data on nature-based mitigation potential in Africa – for the continent as a whole, by subregion, by country or even at subnational level. You will be able to see the potential opportunity in terms of potential for either carbon removal, revenue or livelihood and job opportunities, compare countries on the heatmap and review results in absolute or relative terms. 

Take a closer look to assess what areas in a country could present opportunities for carbon mitigation projects based on natural, social, and economic indicators.

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Set carbon price (US$ per ton of CO2)
Environmental / economic opportunity
Population density
Economic activity
Soil organic carbon content
Average precipitation
Social needs index
Literacy rate
Carbon Value
Carbon price

Population density
Economic activity
Soil carbon content
Avg. preciptation
Social needs
Literacy rate
‘Nature-based mitigation’ includes two subcategories which you can explore together or separately: nature-based carbon removal (which includes various landscape restoration activities, grazing optimization and biochar) and nature-based emission avoidance (consisting of carbon sink protection and optimal agricultural practices for growing rice). Our analysis is based on leading scientific publications. Notably, we relied heavily on the excellent work undertaken by the team at Nature4Climate – please see further detail in the ‘Methodology’ section. As we build this out further to include a greater range of levers and opportunities, we welcome your thoughts and inputs.
absolute relative

Climate-friendly production for Africa

Work in progress

Africa’s own demand for energy, goods and services is growing. By 2050, the continent will be home to 2.5 billion people, double the current population. Currently, nearly 600 million people in Africa do not have access to electricity at all and over 150 million people have an unreliable connection that doesn’t meet their needs; gaps that, when filled, will increase standards of living but also increase energy consumption. Per capita GDP is expected to quintuple between 2010 and 2050.

At present, Africa’s net emissions are very limited – well under 1 ton CO2 per capita per year in most countries (against a global average of 4.75 ton per capita) – and in total <5% of global emissions whilst being home to 17% of the world’s population [footnote: The difference between African emissions and the global average is smaller when all greenhouse gases are included given the importance of agriculture in Africa]. Population growth, growth from poverty towards prosperity, along with urbanization, could substantially increase Africa’s greenhouse emissions.

Thankfully, Africa can chart a low-emissions growth path: it has abundant, untapped, high-yield renewable energy potential, abundant natural resources (land and relevant minerals, amongst others) and a large, young workforce – all of which can be deployed towards meeting Africa’s growing demand. For example, Africa’s renewables potential is >50X the global projected demand for electricity in 2040, a solar panel in Africa’s arid regions will generate twice the energy output of those in Northern Europe and East Africa’s Rift Valley has more than 5 times the geothermal potential of Iceland.

In addition, Africa has relatively limited potentially stranded high-emitting legacy infrastructure (with some notable exceptions such as South Africa’s ageing coal fleet), which means that it makes eminent economic sense to go renewable from the start and at scale. In fact, large-scale demand (for example, from energy-intensive industrial manufacturing) can be the anchor demand that is needed to make grid-scale investments in renewable energy generation bankable and commercially viable, in turn providing access to electricity for un- an underserved retail consumers. Local production will create (tax) revenue and jobs, improve trade balance and forex reserves and reduce consumption footprint thanks to shorter supply lines and less embedded carbon in renewable-powered production processes.

Africa could go even further, innovate materials and integrate local manufacturing with climate-smart management of natural resources. Construction is an excellent example. 40% of the world’s new city dwellers between now and 2050 will live in African cities who will all need houses, commercial buildings and city infrastructure – yet Africa produces less than 0.1% of the global steel output. A 50% shift from steel and cement to cross-laminated timber (CLT) means Africa’s construction boom drives a 12.6 billion tonnes improvement until 2050: going from emitting 6.2 billion tonnes without CLT to 6.4 billion tonnes of net removal; and provides the basis for continued climate-smart forest management which not only locks in carbon but also ensures forests keep sequestering new carbon.

Climate-friendly production for the World

Work in progress

As outlined under ‘Meet Africa’s growing demand without growing emissions’ [please include hyperlink], Africa is well-positioned to build low-emission manufacturing capacity to meet its own demand. This will enable Africa to be an increasingly competitive green manufacturing and energy hub that accelerates the greening of global industry. With green-by-design production capacity, Africa can produce products and services to meet global demand, whilst reducing or even eliminating emissions. This could be relevant for power, basic materials, derived ingredients and final products. A much talked-about example is hydrogen: global demand for hydrogen is expected to be 4 – 12 times current demand in 2050 and, thanks to abundant renewable energy, the expected production costs in Africa are just 30-40% of current production costs in Germany. Hydrogen can be processed into synthetic fuels, green fertilizer and chemicals – or exported as-is as green feedstock for industry elsewhere.

As the world’s population continues to grow in size and prosperity, growing consumption needs will need to be met in sustainable ways – and Africa has a key role to play in this; rapidly, cost-effectively and at-scale.

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