I live on the front lines of fossil fuel exploitation: oil is being drilled in the Okavango Basin, which borders Namibia, where I live. This project by the Canadian company ReconAfrica threatens to pollute the water for around half of Namibia’s population. It takes place in one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, home to the largest herd of African elephants in existence.

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Germany – I spent a few years as a refugee in East Germany when I was younger, and am currently visiting here – may not have visible derricks and machinery like the Okavango Basin, but it is a country with an insatiable thirst for natural gas .

In 2022, Germany took over the G7 presidency, playing a leading role in the efforts of the most powerful countries in the world to end international public financing of fossil fuels – but at the same time Olaf Scholz flies to Africa to buy gas.

When the heads of government of the G7 countries meet in Elmau at the end of June, they must stop the spurt on African gas, because it is only a short-term solution that will backfire. Otherwise, it is to be feared that the Elmau summit meeting will only produce fine words and will result in a devastating Africa-wide gas exploration – including the billions of tons of emissions that result from the combustion of this gas.

Last May, the G7 climate, energy and environment ministers committed to ending direct international public financing of fossil fuels. But there are loopholes in that promise, and further dilution looms.

The G7 countries can continue to fund projects as long as they can justify that they are compatible with plans to limit global warming to 1.5°C, and can continue to finance fossil fuels indirectly. That means Germany is in a remarkable position to publicly scale back its reliance on Russian gas, while Chancellor Scholz is offering Senegal investment aid for new gas infrastructure. Italy, meanwhile, is in the process of signing gas supply deals in Algeria, Egypt, Angola, Mozambique and the Republic of Congo.

One can hardly think in the short term. All of this goes against the climate promises made by Germany and others, and ignores the scientific evidence that we must stop burning fossil fuels if we are to protect a habitable planet.

As a Namibian I can only say: We don’t want your money for fossil fuels. Gas is not the solution to provide millions of Africans with the energy they need today, and it is not the solution to our economic development.

Africa offers such great potential right now because our energy infrastructure is not yet fully developed and we are not yet tied to the fossil fuels of the richer countries. In 2022, and with a world heading towards carbon neutrality and uncertain future gas needs, building fossil fuel infrastructure is an patently bad idea.

At the recent Stockholm 50 Environment Summit, the UN officially recognized the need for a phasing out of fossil fuels. Jobs in the fossil industry are not secure. Expensive infrastructure will quickly lose value as increasing regulation and dwindling funding make it increasingly difficult to make money from toxic fossil fuels. Development strategies based on natural gas production and export threaten to lock us into the technology of the past century and slow down our economic development.

Europe says it is committed to switching to renewable energy to protect the planet and become energy self-sufficient. That is the right decision, and a decision that Africa also deserves. Last year’s flood disaster in the German Ahr Valley showed that it is no longer just countries like mine, the countries of the Global South, that are feeling the effects of climate change at the forefront.

But for Africa, these climate catastrophes also have the bitter aftertaste of injustice: after all, we have contributed next to nothing to the mass of historical emissions.

Europe, seeing dwindling public support for new domestic gas exploration and production, should not think it can export the risk to Africa at the expense of our environment, our people, our economy and our climate security.

There are other, better options. Africa has abundant and affordable sources of renewable energy: intense sunshine, fierce winds, inexhaustible geothermal energy. These are precisely the technologies – climate-proof, future-proof – that Europe should invest in.

To make the clean transition to renewable energy, Africa needs support from the rest of the world. It’s the only fair option: Africa is responsible for only four percent of historical emissions, but is one of the hardest hit by the impacts of climate change. The legacy of colonialism still stunts our development, still impoverishes us. Instead of fair treatment, we got empty promises.

Decades ago, industrialized countries committed to providing 100 billion dollars annually by 2020 to support the energy transition in developing countries. But last month, the G7 countries admitted that their aid payments are still short of the amount promised.

Countries like Namibia are still asking for help and are still being ignored – but Germany and other countries, while reluctant to fulfill their promise, can still muster billions to spend on new gas supplies for their own needs.

In Elmau, Germany must persuade the G7 countries to end international public financing of fossil fuels and instead put money on the table for clean energy and energy efficiency in Africa.

They should be crystal clear on how they plan to mobilize the trillions in private investment needed in the developing world to support the energy transition away from fossil fuels and towards green energy. And Germany must come up with a plan on how it intends to keep its promise of €6 billion a year for climate protection and commit to increasing this amount to €8 billion by 2025.

With the G7 presidency, Germany is at the center of global power, and its decisions are what count. European investment can make the difference: in Africa, will we have countries burdened with last century’s dirty technologies that are exacerbating the climate crisis – or countries with a thriving economy based on safe and reliable renewable energy. Flying over the oil derricks and herds of elephants of the Okavango Basin on my return trip from Germany to Namibia, I know how much is at stake.