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Efforts to mitigate climate change, while electricity supply industries, transport networks and other big consumers of energy are put on a more sustainable, less carbon-intense footing, will rise sharply up the global agenda in 2021, ahead of the next big round of climate talks to be held on 1-12 November in Glasgow. This is likely to involve a rush into green bonds, new project financing and other instruments that could significantly increase the pace of Africa’s shift into a more sustainable energy future.

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TotalEnergies’ latest Strategy and Outlook paper, Building a sustainable multi-energy company, offers a heavily-illustrated, if light-on-detail, glimpse of how the corporate giants formally known as ‘oil majors’ may change in the coming decade. The document, presented at a 28 September shareholders meeting, is strong on TotalEnergies’ plan for “reinvention”, from being a bad old oil major to one with a cleverly constructed – and often very valuable – sustainable energy strategy.

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We all agree: the future is necessarily based on renewable energy and storage solutions, as economies, corporations and communities work to tackle the climate crisis by achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Africa understands the need for this better than most, as vulnerable populations in regions like the Sahel suffer the consequences of global warming on their daily lives and resource distribution.

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Much of the news flow ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November has been about which global leaders will turn up and what carbon reduction commitments they will make. Many in Africa are more concerned the least-developed continent will be forced to adopt ill-fitting policy straightjackets and forced to choose between rival superpower-led development models, most notably China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative (BRI) and the US-led Clean Green Initiative (CGI) and Build Back Better for the World (B3W) programmes.