Simulations, Craters and Lies: Postol’s Latest Attempt to Undermine the Last Vestiges of his Reputation

In the beginning of August 2019, the Tulsi Gabbard campaign published “Reports on Chemical Attacks in Syria”, expressing Gabbard’s views on the allegations of chemical weapons attacks in Syria — and based mainly on the work of Dr. Theodore Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

Aside from various errors, contradictions, and misleading statements made on that page, links to the work of Postol on chemical weapons attacks in Syria were included. With this came what was believed to be a previously unpublished report, Computational Forensic Analysis for the Chemical Weapons Attack at Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017, published by Postol and other contributors, that used computer simulations to make the allegation that the crater formed in Khan Sheikhoun was not formed by an air-dropped bomb as claimed by the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), but, in fact, by the impact of a 122 mm rocket impact. 

Summary Of Postol & Co.’s  Allegations

The main argument of Postol report focuses on the crater that the OPCW-UN Joint Investigation Mechanism report on Khan Sheikhoun stated “was caused by the impact of an aerial bomb travelling at high velocity”, specifically a chemical bomb. According to Postol et al’s report, computer simulations demonstrates this crater was in fact created by the impact of a surface to surface rocket. 

In an October 25, 2017 letter discovered on The Russian Center for Policy Research (PIR Center) website, Postol describes the results of his report to a “Ms. Grebenkina”, requesting help with passing his “document on to the Russian delegation at the UN”. The PDF’s metadata states the original file name was “Note2Sputnik_(October25,2017)_”  — meanwhile, a Sofya Grebenkina works for Russia’s Sputnik News

On October 30, 2017, Sputnik published an article based on the contents of the letter, but did not include Postol’s request that the document is passed onto Russia’s UN delegation. It is unclear why the document is on the PIR Center website. Postol summarises his report as follows:

“Forensic computational analysis performed by two of my colleagues, Professor Goong Chen and Dr. Chung Gu, at Texas A&M University unambiguously explains how this crater was actually created.”

“Our calculations speculated that the crater was formed by a standard 122 mm artillery rocket explosive warhead of the kind that is ubiquitously available for purchase around the world. An example of this standardized warhead is shown in the image below. This particular variant of the warhead weighs about 18.4 kg and has a 6.35 kg explosive charge. The exact weight of the charge in these easily purchased warheads varies somewhat but the explosive effects of charges of slightly different weight is essentially irrelevant to the findings shown in our calculations.”

The image referred to by Postol is shown below. The original source of this image is a slideshow by Tohan SA, a Romainan arms manufacturer:

Image of 122 mm warheads used in Postols’ October 25th 2017 letter

Postol then goes onto state, “Our results show exactly what is observed in the photograph.”

In his letter, Postol then moves on to the rocket motor used. Rather than being a standard 122 mm rocket motor, as used on rockets launched by the regular  platform for launching 122 mm rocket — i.e. the BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher — i.e. Postol says the rocket was “almost certainly fabricated locally and a purchased warhead and igniter and nozzle assembly was attached to each end of the improvised rocket.” 

Despite extensive imagery from the conflict in Syria documenting improvised weapons used by both sides in the conflict, Postol does not present a single example of an improvised rocket motor armed with a factory manufactured 122 mm warhead. The authors of this piece are also unaware of any existing examples of this.

Postol finishes the summary of his work thus:

“It is therefore unambiguous that the crater was created by a standard 122 mm explosive warhead of the type that can be purchased anywhere in the world. There is absolutely no evidence of any sarin containing vessel. The split pipe that has been inaccurately identified as evidence of the container filled with sarin is simply the casing of the rocket motor that propelled the purchased warhead to the location of the explosion.”

Comparison Of The Khan Sheikhoun Crater To 122 mm Warhead Impacts

Postol clearly states that the result of his investigation shows how a standard 122 mm explosive warhead formed the crater at Khan Sheikhoun, and that “the exact weight of the charge in these easily purchased warheads varies somewhat but the explosive effects of charges of slightly different weight is essentially irrelevant to the findings shown in our calculations.”

122 mm rockets are used widely in conflicts across the world. The craters formed by their impacts have been filmed and photographed. As Postol himself states the charges of different weights are “essentially irrelevant to the findings shown in our calculations” we can assume that if Postol et al’s calculations are accurate, then there should be many real world examples of craters formed by 122 mm warheads that are comparable to the crater seen in Khan Sheikhoun. 

One particularly well documented instance of 122 mm rocket use is the January 2015 attack on Mariupol, Ukraine, where an urban center came under fire from multiple 122 mm rockets. The remains of rockets documented at the site indicate 122 mm rockets launched from BM-21 Grads were used, and these would carry the “standard” warheads Postol refers to. If Postol et al’s calculations are correct, we should expect to see craters on road surfaces that are a close match to the crater at Khan Sheikhoun.

However, this is clearly not the case when the Mariupol craters are compared to the Khan Sheikhoun crater. The Khan Sheikhoun crater is shown below:

The crater in Khan Sheikhoun (Source:  Aleppo Media Centre)

Forensic Architecture was able to measure the crater, establishing it was 1.61 m wide at i’s widest point, and up to .49 m deep:

 

We can compare this to multiple craters on different surfaces in Mariupol. This graphic from Human Rights Watch show multiple craters, one of which shows the remains of a 122 mm rocket embedded in it, all of which are much smaller than the crater in Khan Sheikhoun:

Human Rights Watch graphic showing 122 mm rocket craters after the January 2015 Mariupol attack (Source)

Bellingcat investigated the 2015 Mariupol attack and put together an extensive collection of videos showing the moment of the attack and the aftermath, with many 122 mm warhead impacts documented. None of these impacts look anywhere near to being the same as the crater at Khan Sheikhoun. Simply put, Postol et al’s claim that the crater at Khan Sheikhoun was created by a standard 122 mm warhead does not match real world evidence, regardless of what their simulation shows.

It is even possible to find 122 mm rocket craters in Postol’s own work, and they — surprise! — do not match the Khan Sheikhoun crater. In Postol’s “An Explanation of the Evidence of Weaknesses in the Iron Dome Defense System” he uses a number of images to explain his conclusions. Figure 16, titled “A rocket exploded near a road in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, causing damage to the road but no injuries. (July 2014)”, shows the remains of a rocket motor next to a small, shallow impact crater.

Figure 16 from Postol’s “An Explanation of the Evidence of Weaknesses in the Iron Dome Defense System” (Source)

A clearer image of the rocket motor can be seen here, while a close up of the motor is seen here. This is the rocket motor of a 122 mm rocket, used widely by Hezbollah, and it would be armed with a “standard” 122 mm warhead. It is unclear how, despite Postol’s extensive work on the Iron Dome system and the rockets it intercepted, including 122 mm rockets, he was unable to see the significant discrepancies between his simulation and real world examples of 122 mm warhead impacts.

Comparison Of The Khan Sheikhoun Crater And The Postol Et Al Simulation

The Postol et al report relies heavily on claims that the remains of the munition inside the crater belong to an improvised 122 mm rocket, with manufacturing defects and with a “standard” 122 mm warhead. There is no reason stated for this measurement being selected, beyond the statement that it fits the simulation. The simulation includes the moment of impact, with the remains of the rocket motor coming to rest in the crater, as shown below:

There are two major discrepancies between this simulation and the actual crater documented at Khan Sheikhoun. 

The remains documented inside the crater do not match the simulation results. Postol et al state that this debris is the remains of an improvised rocket motor, and that this cylindrical rocket motor split due to poor quality manufacturing. According to the simulation, the front end of the rocket motor splits as a result of the warhead detonation, as shown below.

Screenshot from Postol et al’s simulation of the detonation of the simulated munition shortly after the warhead detonates (Source)

After the rocket comes to rest, the split section of the rocket is embedded in the crater, with the cylindrical rear of the rocket still visible:

Screenshot from Postol et al’s simulation of the detonation of the simulated munition after it comes to rest (Source)

In multiple images and videos of this fragment, we can see that what Postol et al believe to be the external side of the rocket motor is covered with what appears to be some kind of textured layer. This layer evenly coats one side of the fragment.

In these images the rough surface of the “rocket motor” is clearly evident (Source)

For anyone who has a basic understanding of how tube-launched artillery works, it is very clear that this coating makes this fragment very unsuited to being part of a rocket motor. This kind of coating would make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fit this “122 mm rocket motor” into a launch tube. It would also make it very inaccurate.

Postol et al also suggest that this “122 mm rocket motor” had a “weld” with a “strengthened edge”. Their simulation “assumes the preexistence of structural weakness along a generatrix of the cylinder, due to possible welding in the fabrication of a pipe”.

Illustration from Postal et al’s paper showing their modelling of the rocket

However, a closer examination of this “strengthened edge” does not appear to support the conclusion of Postol et al. Although said “edge” does appear to be a weld, after having modelled this fragment, we believe it is in fact part of the casing of a much larger munition. 

Close up photograph of the fragment in the crater

Using a large number of images and videos of the fragment in the crater we have modelled what we believe this fragment could look like, both in its folded shape and once it has been unfolded. 

Top: fragment in its folded state. Bottom: fragment in its unfolded state

One significant feature of the metal fragment is a curved metal bar attached to the fragment, which, according to Postol’s claim, must have run the length of the improvised rocket motor. The simulation does not appear to account for this feature, or how it would have been bent inwards by the detonation of a 122 mm warhead at the opposite end of the rocket motor. In Postol’s letter, published by Accuracy.org, Postol describes the metal fragment as follows:

“The OPCW report never identifies the metal “object” in the crater as a pipe of roughly 120 mm diameter. It instead describes the pipe as an object that the investigators assess was produced by the impact of a bomb of roughly 300 to 500 mm diameter. There is no explanation for how a sheet of metal could be rolled into a uniform diameter pipe of 122 mm diameter. The object that is a pipe is never described as pipe in the reports while the other object is identified in the report as a filler cap.”

What is claimed to be a “122 mm pipe” in the Khan Sheikhoun crater

It is difficult to understand how anyone who had taken the time to review the images of the metal fragment would come to the conclusion it was “a uniform diameter pipe of 122 mm diameter” as claimed by Postol. This claim simply doesn’t stand up to the most cursory examination of the images in question. 

Inconsistencies between simulated and actual crater

Not only does the simulator crater not match any other 122 mm rocket craters we have observed, it doesn’t even match the crater seen at Khan Sheikhoun. 

In Postol’s simulation, the rocket impacts a road where the tarmac is simulated as being 10 cm thick, with soil underneath. In the simulation we see that outside the bowl of the crater, the tarmac suffers extensive damage across a wide area. This damage is localised to the northern side of the crater bowl, and ranges from 1 cm to 10 cm in depth.

Damage seen in simulation. Note the extensive damage to the tarmac to the left (north) of the crater.

Nothing like this kind of damage is seen in the actual Khan Sheikhoun crater. The tarmac on the north side of the crater is almost completely undamaged, saved for several cracks. If the simulation was accurate, the area highlighted in yellow below would display significant damage, with lacerations going down at least 10 cm. 

Comparison of damage seen in Postol’s simulation to actual crater (Source)


In fact, the kind of damage seen in the simulation is not seen in any direction around the crater. 

Note that no area around the crater displays anything like the level of damage seen in the simulation (Source)

This type of damage, which is part of the simulation, is consistent with other examples of 122 mm rocket impacts. During the detonation of the warhead shrapnel is blown outwards, and, when on flat surfaces, can leave a distinctive fan pattern. 

This is something Postol should be well aware of. On May 22, 2019, Accuracy.org published New Assessments from Leading Scientist Accuse OPCW Leadership of Rigging on Alleged Syrian Chemical Weapons Attacks Used to Justify U.S. Bombings, based on letters and articles submitted by Postol to various bodies in relation to his report. In a covering letter, addressed to the “German Foreign Ministryl (sic)”, Postol reiterates his positions based on his latest analysis, including the following statement:

“The supercomputer calculations show that the geometry of the charge and its orientation relative to the ground produce a classic crater that has a tear-drop shaped perimeter (that is, a perimeter that is not circular). Craters with this shape are known to be produced by artillery rockets, as is documented in the UN manual for peacekeepers in the document, Introduction to UN Peacekeeping Pre Deployment Training Standards.

“Section 1.2, titled, Verification of Minefields, Explosive Remnants of war and Crater Analysis contains the basic information on crater recognition used by UN peacekeepers in the field. Similar discussions can be found in US Army Artillery Officer Field Manuals. These characteristics of artillery rocket craters are therefore very well known to true professionals who deal with these matters.”

The document he refers to includes diagrams of impact craters from various munitions. The following image shows the impact crater from a low angle fuze crater, created by munitions such as artillery shells and 122 mm rockets:

Image from UN Peacekeeping Pre Deployment Training Standards showing a low angle fuze crater

At Bellingcat, we are quite familiar with these craters and the measuring methods described in the UN Peacekeeping Pre Deployment Training Standards document. In 2015 and 2016, Bellingcat published two reports using a combination of satellite imagery showing crater impacts and the measuring methods described in the UN document to identify dozens of sites of cross border artillery attacks from the Russian Federation into Eastern Ukraine. 

It is clear from the diagrams in the UN document that the craters described do not match the crater visible in Khan Sheikhoun, most notably for the lack of side spray from the detonation of the 122 mm warhead Postol et al have simulated.

In the video below, the simulation has been overlaid with an image of the real crater, showing where we would expect to see this damage:

The following comparison of the real crater and the simulated crater clearly shows the lack of damage in areas the Postol et al simulation indicates there should be damage — i.e. to the north of the crater:

Although the crater bowl is superficially similar in shape, the damage outside the bowl itself cannot simply be discounted, as it provides vital information about the nature of the munition and its direction of travel. It seems incredible that the authors of this paper could claim that “the computational mathematics and mechanics calculation essentially predicts most or all of the observed features of the crater at Khan Sheikhoun” because, as we see above, this is simply not true. 

In the above video, it is notable that the warhead remains modelled in pink cross a space occupied by a metal cabinet. This is significant, because while Postol et al’s simulation shows this pink spray clearly damaging the floor around the crater, they have not modelled anything in the location of the metal utility cabinet. 

Based on the simulation, it would appear there should be significant damage to this cabinet, but images from the scene show this is obviously not the case. The following video clearly shows no shrapnel damage is visible on the metal cabinet:

 

However, in the text of the report, Postol et al argues that this cabinet should be undamaged:

“Another argument made by the experts engaged by the JIM cites the scarcity of “visible signs of damage caused by fragmentation or overpressure, especially on the metal cabinet located 3 to 5 m away from the crater” [3, para 54]. Although it is not clear from the report, it appears that this observation applies to one of specific scenarios considered by the JIM, namely the one in which the crater was created by an explosive charge placed on the ground. In this scenario one indeed would expect to see a certain damage to the metal cabinet. However, in the scenario considered here, it should be taken into account that a cylindrical explosive charge, such as a 122-mm warhead considered in this analysis, would not produce a spherically-symmetrical blast wave or a debris cloud. For munitions with a high length-to-diameter ratio most debris would be distributed in an annular pattern that is perpendicular to the munition axis (pointed forward if the motion of the munition is taken into account). This effect, in fact, can be seen on the second panel of the explosion sequence shown on Figure 3.1. The location of the metal cabinet placed it in the solid angle that is unlikely to be affected by the explosion debris.”

At best, this demonstrates the simulation should have included some representation of the metal cabinet. This, combined with the lack of damage around the crater that’s present in the simulation, calls into question the accuracy of the claim made in the report that the simulation genuinely recreates the crater seen at Khan Sheikhoun, and certainly not as Postol claimed showing “exactly what is observed in the photograph.”

Problematic Methodology

Although Postol et al chose to simulate Postol’s previous, discarded theory, that a container of Sarin was blown open on the ground, they chose not to simulate a liquid-filled, air dropped munition. This is especially strange considering this hypothesis is the one proposed by the OPCW-UN JIM, regarded as the authority on the matter of chemical attacks.

Despite the wide and extensive range of evidence examined by the OPCW-UN JIM, the authors simply decided that they wouldn’t simulate it, a rather bizarre decision.

Publishing 

Postol et al’s paper is written in an academic format as if it has been published in a journal, however we could not find any reference to it in any peer reviewed publication. The only sources for the paper appear to be Tulsi Gabbard’s website and Accuracy.org. According to Accuracy.org, “This manuscript has been accepted for publication by Science and Global Security, a refereed science-based journal published out of Princeton University.”

At the time of writing, the journal in question has not published this paper. We struggle to see how a peer reviewed journal could publish a document with so many grave and self evident errors, especially since said document already appears to have been used by a state party in an attempt to undermine the OPCW-UN JIM.

The post Simulations, Craters and Lies: Postol’s Latest Attempt to Undermine the Last Vestiges of his Reputation appeared first on bellingcat.

Israeli PM threatens to start another war on Gaza in coming days

Say, do anything, kill, to win – murder most foul

Jerusalem/PNN/

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he may start another military operation in the besieged Gaza Strip before September 17, when snap elections are to be held in the occupied territories.

Another conflict with Gaza “could happen at any moment, including four days before the elections,” Netanyahu said on Friday morning after returning from a brief trip to Russia.

“The date of the elections does not factor [into a decision to go to war],” he added.

Earlier on Thursday, Netanyahu had made the same threat before boarding a plane to Sochi, Russia, when he said in a radio interview, “It looks like there will be no other choice but to embark on a wide-scale campaign in Gaza.”

The threats came a couple of days after Netanyahu was ridiculed for being rushed off-stage during a rocket attack from the enclave.

During a campaign event in the port city of Ashdod on Tuesday, Netanyahu was forced to flee and seek shelter as rockets fired from Gaza threatened the area.

The siren went off just as Netanyahu began his speech and addressed hundreds of supporters of the right-wing Likud-National Liberal Movement, which he chairs.

In an extraordinary scene captured on video from the event, the Israeli prime minister can be seen being whisked away from the stage by a gaggle of security guards.

The scenes of Netanyahu being forced to take shelter a few days before the snap elections provided a counterpoint to the image he had tried to cultivate as “Mr. Security,” Israeli media reported.

Emboldened by the scenes, his rivals are reportedly attacking Netanyahu for his cabinet’s failure to counter the Palestinian resistance group Hamas.

Since the Tuesday humiliation, the Israeli military has launched a number of airstrikes and artillery attacks against the Gaza Strip.

Genetically modified mosquitoes breed in Brazil

Remember killer bees? Oops!?! “After a field experiment between 2013 and 2015, genetically modified mosquitoes are breeding in Brazil. According to the researchers’ original plan, all released mosquitoes and their offspring should have died.”

19023271_302.png

After a field experiment between 2013 and 2015, genetically modified mosquitoes are breeding in Brazil. According to the researchers’ original plan, all released mosquitoes and their offspring should have died.

Boris Johnson Drags the Queen Into the Brexit Quagmire – The New York Times – Johnson willing to destroy British democracy to “win!”

The prime minister’s allies have struck back with an attack on the Scottish judiciary. In a television interview this week, one government minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, said repeatedly that “many people are saying that the judges are biased,” while another Johnson ally leveled a charge about the “liberal elite” using any means to defeat “the democratic decision of the people.” Analysts saw in that the outlines of a no-holds-barred, anti-establishment campaign that Mr. Johnson seems eager to run if an election is called.

Opinion | Political Ad Attacking AOC: ‘Beyond the Pale’ – The New York Times

It was therefore beyond appalling to me to see those horrific images used on a supposed “political ad” on ABC during the Democratic debate Thursday night. ABC — until now — has been my channel of choice for the nightly news. I cannot understand how this organization would allow such an offensive ad by a political action committee — regardless of how much was paid for it or which party it was supposed to represent. Is this what we can expect now for the remainder of this endless pre-election period? What have we come to as a nation that this can be considered acceptable?

AfDB ‘s Solar Project Aims at Making Africa a Renewable Power House

Credit: AfDB

By Razeena Raheem
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 13 2019 (IPS)

When UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched the International Solar Alliance last October, he applauded the goal of mobilizing about $1 trillion dollars towards the deployment of some 1,000 gigawatts of solar energy by 2030.

“It is clear,” he said, “that we are witnessing a global renewable energy revolution.”

That revolution is also taking place under the leadership of the African Development Bank (AfDB) which has embarked on a highly ambitious solar project to make Africa a renewable power-house, titled “Desert to Power (DtP) Initiative”.

This project is expected to stretch across the Sahel region by tapping into the region’s abundant solar resource.

The Initiative aims to develop and provide 10 GW of solar energy by 2025 and supply 250 million people with green electricity including in some of the world’s poorest countries. At least 90 million people will be connected to electricity for the first time, lifting them out of energy poverty.

Currently, 64% of the Sahel’s population – covering Senegal, Nigeria, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea – lives without electricity, a major barrier to development, with consequences for education, health and business.

The AfDB has rightly pointed out that lack of energy remains a significant impediment to Africa’s economic and social development.

Initiated back in 2017 by the AfDB, the DtP has been described “a big and bold ambition: to light up and power the Sahel by building electricity generation capacity of 10 GW through photovoltaic (PV) solar systems via public, private, grid and off-grid projects by 2025, and consequently transform the industry, agriculture and economic fabric of the entire region”

Akinwumi A. Adesina

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, speaking in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso where he attended the G5 Sahel Summit, emphasized the importance of political will in the success of the “Desert to Power” initiative, whose goal is to guarantee universal access to electricity for over 60 million people through solar energy.

The Burkinabe President Mark Roch Christian Kaboré applauded the Bank’s Desert to Power initiative, and also highlighted his country’s excellent relationship with the Bank, expressing his thanks for the portfolio of projects implemented. The President of AfDB is an invited guest at the G5 Sahel Summit of heads of state and government held on 13 September.

Dr. Adesina has drawn attention to the paradox that one of the world’s sunniest regions lacks access to electricity: “Now, more than ever, cooperation and cross-border trade in energy are essential to maintaining a secure supply over the long term given the challenges of climate change,” he said, adding that “in Burkina Faso, significant steps have been taken with the Bank-supported Yeleen rural electrification project.”

As part of its electrification strategy for Africa, the Bank is committed to accelerating access to high quality, low cost energy for the continent’s people. Critical network connections have been approved by the Bank’s Board: Mali-Guinea, Nigeria-Niger-Benin-Burkina Faso and Chad-Cameroon.

The Yeleen Rural Electrification Project, involving the production of off-grid energy in Burkina Faso, is the first venture under the DtP initiative.

A low-income Sahelian country, Burkina Faso has been negatively impacted by extreme climate variations such as declining rainfall, rising temperatures, floods and droughts. With installed capacity of 285 MW, about 3 million households in Burkina Faso are completely without power.

Of Burkina Faso’s 19 million population, 90% live in rural areas, where electricity access – mostly through diesel generators – stands at just 3%. Agriculture, the mainstay of Burkina Faso’s rural economy, is also the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The project is financed through the Bank’s African Development Fund, in addition to co-financing mobilised by the Bank from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and the European Union. The project will also leverage private sector investments through equity and debt raised from commercial banks.

It will harness solar energy to deliver access to more than 900,000 people in rural areas – nearly 5% of the country’s population, and is expected to result in an average annual CO2 emissions reduction of 15,500 tons.

Meanwhile, Guterres said that renewable energy accounted for some 70 per cent of net additions to global power capacity in 2017.

Solar energy is at the centre of this revolution, he declared

“We need to rapidly shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels,” he said. “We need to replace them with clean energy from water, wind and sun. We must halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and change the way we farm.”

The alternative to moving to green energy, he said, “is a dark and dangerous future”.

According to AfDB, energy poverty in Africa is estimated to cost the continent 2-4 % GDP annually. The details of the “Desert to Power Initiative” were outlined as part of the Paris Agreement climate change talks at COP24 in Katowice, Poland.

“Energy is the foundation of human living – our entire system depends on it. For Africa right now, providing and securing sustainable energy is in the backbone of its economic growth,” said Magdalena J. Seol in the AfDB’s Desert to Power Initiative.

“A lack of energy remains as a significant impediment to Africa’s economic and social development. The project will provide many benefits to local people. It will improve the affordability of electricity for low income households and enable people to transition away from unsafe and hazardous energy sources, such as kerosene, which carry health risks,” added Seol.

Construction of the project will also create jobs and help attract private sector involvement in renewable energy in the region.

Putting the problem in its right perspective, Guterres said in the past decade, prices for renewables have plummeted and investments are on the rise. “Today, a fifth of the world’s electricity is produced by renewable energy. We must build on this.”

He said the world is seeing a groundswell of climate action.

“It is clear that clean energy makes climate sense. But it also makes economic sense. Today it is the cheapest energy. And it will deliver significant health benefits. Air pollution affects nearly all of us, regardless of borders.”

The Secretary-General encouraged businesses, governments and civil society organizations to disclose climate risk, divest from fossil fuels and forge partnerships that will invest in low-emissions resilient infrastructure.

“We need to do this from the biggest cities to the smallest towns. The opportunities are tremendous.” He said some 75 per cent of the infrastructure needed by 2050 still remains to be built.

“How this is done will either lock us in to a high emission future or steer us towards truly sustainable low-emissions development. There is only one rational choice.”

According to AfDB, many women-led businesses currently face bigger barriers than men-led enterprises to accessing grid electricity – so the project has the potential to increase female participation in economic activities and decision-making processes.

The project has been launched in collaboration with the Green Climate Fund, a global pot of money created by the 194 countries who are party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to support developing countries adapt to and mitigate climate change. The program is designed to combine private sector capital with blended finance.

“If you look at the countries that this initiative supports, they’re the ones who are very much affected by the climate change and carbon emissions from other parts of the world,” said Seol.

“Given this, the investments will have a greater effect in these regions, which have a greater demand and market opportunity in the energy sector.”

“Women are usually disproportionately negatively affected by energy access issues. Providing a secure and sustainable electricity creates positive impact on gender issue as well.”

The African continent holds 15% of the world’s population, yet is poised to shoulder nearly 50% of the estimated global climate change adaptation costs, according to the Bank.

These costs are expected to cut across health, water supply, agriculture, and forestry, despite the continent’s minimal contribution to global emissions.

However, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) estimates that Africa’s renewable energy potential could put it at the forefront of green energy production globally.

It is estimated to have an almost unlimited potential of solar capacity (10 TW), abundant hydro (350 GW), wind (110 GW), and geothermal energy sources (15 GW) – and a potential overall renewable energy capacity of 310 GW by 2030.

Other renewables projects in Africa include The Ouarzazate solar complex in Morocco, which is one of the largest concentrated solar plants in the world.

It has produced over 814 GWh of clean energy since 2016 and last year, the solar plant prevented 217,000 tons of CO2 being emitted. Until recently, Morocco sourced 95% of its energy needs from external sources.

In South Africa, the Bank and its partner, the Climate Investment Funds, have helped fund the Sere Wind Farm – 46 turbines supplying 100 MW to the national power grid and expected to save 6 million tonnes of greenhouse gases over its 20-year expected life span. It is supplying 124,000 homes.

COP24 is the 24th conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This year countries are preparing to implement the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit the world’s global warming to no more than 2C.

The post AfDB ‘s Solar Project Aims at Making Africa a Renewable Power House appeared first on Inter Press Service.