Africa must indeed play its role to address climate change. It is also true the continent needs energy, fossil fuels included, if it has to ensure its development. Between these two needs lies some well-acknowledged inequalities compared to the rest of the world. Take what has come to be known as climate injustice. Africa’s share of carbon emissions is 3 per cent of global emissions. Industrialised countries remain the biggest polluters, significantly adding to the rise in global warming and the subsequent adverse weather patterns. Yet, as may be seen with the failed crops leading to extreme hunger and livestock deaths across Africa, the burden of climate change on the continent’s economies and livelihoods is disproportionately high. This can’t be fair for a continent causing comparatively little damage to the earth’s atmosphere. It is also well acknowledged that Africa’s access to energy is very low compared to other regions. More than 600 million, or close to half of Africans on the continent, live without electricity. Nearly two-thirds of them at 900 million lack access to clean cooking facilities. Further, of the over US$2.8 trillion invested in renewable energy globally over the last 20 years, Africa got only 2 per cent of the investments, despite its huge renewable energy potential from the sun and wind, for instance. These are only some of the inequalities. They may be well known but their dire consequence demands they continually be placed at the fore for urgent redress. For this reason, the continent has finally decided to take matters into its own hands and has set forth a plan under the African Common Position on Energy Access and Just Transition adopted by the African Union last month. The Common Position aims at ensuring energy access to all Africans while ensuring sustainable development growth of its member states. It charts a phased plan with short-, medium-, and long-term energy development objectives to deploy all forms of the continent’s abundant energy resources including renewable and non-renewable energy to address energy demand. In the short- to medium-term, both renewable and no-renewable energy systems will continue to be deployed to meet the continent’s current and increasing energy demand. About 9 per cent of all energy generated in Africa comes from renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal. The aim is to increase this with a mix of natural gas, green and low carbon hydrogen and nuclear energy in the short- and medium term. However, this does not seem to sit well with climate lobbyists, who see it as retrogressive to invest in non-renewable energy. They claim that it might distract from sustained development of more climate-friendly renewable energy sources. The activists have been countered with the argument that, as the continent with the lowest energy consumption and growing energy demand, the way forward is not merely a choice between energy resources and systems, but how the continent could strike a balance in meeting its energy demand and development. Striking the balance should lead to the long-term aim stipulated in the AU Agenda 2063 to unleash Africa’s hydroelectric potential in its rivers, in addition to enhancing the uptake of renewables towards sustainable low carbon and climate resilience. Agenda 2063 sets forth Africa's aspirations for the future and identifies key flagship programmes to boost economic growth. Clean energy is a key component of this. Africa’s policymakers acknowledge that the plan the continent has set for itself is probably not the most ideal, but the principle of a just energy transition in the continent must consider past emissions and how they shape future emission trajectories. They insist it must not be forgotten that Africa contributed little to the build-up of historical emissions and should therefore not be denied the “carbon space” to develop its economies. And it really is not about Africa. With the energy crisis the Russian war in Ukraine has caused, not even the European Union is willing or able to forego fossil fuels just yet. The recent European Union vote to keep some specific uses of natural gas and nuclear energy under the classification of sustainable sources of energy only underscores the point Africa is making under the Common Position. The EU classification voted for defines “environmentally sustainable economic activities” for investors, policymakers and companies. It could be argued that Africa’s Common Position is similar and is tailored for the expedience of its people’s development and the continent’s economic growth. Either way, what is not in doubt is the urgent need for investments in climate-friendly energy and infrastructure the world over, which it is expected will be on the agenda during the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) this November in Egypt.