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The Future of Trilateral Energy Cooperation: EU, BRICS, and African States Navigate Climate Challenges

Trilateral energy cooperation among the EU, BRICS, and African states offers a promising avenue to address global climate challenges. With the evolving dynamics of BRICS and the intricate interplay of interests, the focus should remain on common objectives.

1. The Evolving Landscape of BRICS and its Energy Ambitions

The BRICS group, originally comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, has evolved as a formidable bloc. Its recent expansion, which saw members like Argentina, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia joining, underscores a broader thematic focus, with energy transition and “BRICS and Africa” taking centre stage. While these nations together symbolize the aspirations and concerns of the global south, energy remains a pivotal issue. BRICS views fossil fuels as developmental necessities, contrasting with the EU’s push for swift transitions to renewables. This divergence necessitates a pragmatic approach, where the EU can find mutual grounds with BRICS and African states.

2. Dissecting the Challenges in Trilateral Cooperation

BRICS’s tailored approach to a low-carbon economy highlights the complexities of global climate diplomacy. This bloc respects the sovereignty and developmental rights of its member states, which sometimes results in policies that seem antithetical to the EU’s more aggressive climate ambitions. Their endorsement of fossil fuels for the developmental pursuits of emerging economies, and apprehensions regarding the EU’s carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), accentuates the dichotomy.

Moreover, African nations, rich in both renewable and non-renewable energy resources, find resonance with many BRICS positions. Their interests, coupled with a desire to enhance trade ties with BRICS, could lead to challenges for Europe, particularly in securing access to crucial energy and mineral resources. In this complex web of interests, the EU faces an imperative to redefine its strategies, ensuring a robust stake in global energy and climate governance.

3. Harnessing Opportunities: The Path Forward

A tripartite dialogue involving the EU, BRICS, and African states can be a game-changer. By identifying common goals and fostering mutual understanding, several challenges can be turned into opportunities.

For starters, joint investment in renewable energy projects, especially in solar and wind sectors prevalent in Africa, can be a win-win for all parties. Such ventures not only mitigate environmental impacts but also promise economic dividends. Additionally, the EU can offer technical expertise and funding mechanisms to support these endeavours.

Moreover, the EU can actively support individual initiatives by BRICS and African states. For instance, endorsing Brazil’s global rainforest protection initiative can showcase the EU’s commitment to broader green objectives. Similarly, investing in sustainable transportation projects in Africa, like railway infrastructures proposed by the African Union, can set new benchmarks in trilateral cooperation.

Furthermore, collective action in areas like emission reduction, biofuel value chain development, and technological advancements can yield significant results. The trilateral consortium can also explore clean energy technology transfers, green financing mechanisms, and policy harmonization for quicker transitions.

4. Conclusion: Building Bridges for a Sustainable Future

The shifting geopolitical landscape demands proactive engagement. The EU, by championing north-south multilateralism and forging closer ties with BRICS and African states, can usher in an era of sustainable energy transitions. By aligning mutual interests, respecting individual nation’s aspirations, and investing in collective green ventures, the trilateral consortium can set a new global precedent. The time is ripe for a collaborative approach, where energy cooperation becomes the linchpin for a sustainable global future.

Feel free to contact the Energy Transition Centre today with questions. 

·  Julius Moerder, Head of Energy Transition Centre [email protected]

·  Oneyka Ojogbo, Head of Energy Transition Centre, Nigeria & West Africa [email protected]

·  Leon van Der Merwe, Head of Energy Transition Centre, South Africa [email protected]

Author: Memoona Tawfiq