(Image: EPA/Aaron Ufumeli)

As climate pledges pile up, a worrying theme is emerging: that bold efforts by rich nations to decarbonise the global economy will be ruined by hordes of new consumers in the developing world buying cars, installing air-conditioning and taking planes.

China’s and India’s rapid development and steep emissions trajectories have been central to these fears, but Western governments and climate activists have found little traction there.

Instead, the focus of attention has shifted to Africa, where energy use is still very low -- and where rich countries see an opportunity to apply pressure by leveraging development aid and cutting off finance. This is already leading to harmful policies that will hurt millions of poor Africans by slowing down their continent’s economic development while doing little, if anything, to help fight climate change.