Sunday, May 9, 2021

Commercial viability of export coal looks headed for a big slope

It seems that the future for coal mining looks bleak. Apart from the fact that international financiers such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and African Development Bank (AfDB) are slowly but surely turning away from financing coal related projects, coal is being seen as a threat to the environment because of its carbon emissions. Already environmentalists are working hard day and night to ensure that Botswana’s rich coal deposits remain unutilised.

Climate change has become a lightning-rod political issue, and scientists are trying to depoliticise it by showing how seriously it impacts the environment.

A report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) highlights threats from the impact of global warming to which the Botswana tourism industry should be paying close attention. The Okavango Delta is one as carbon emissions are likely to shrink the delta.

The detailed report by the Union of Concerned scientists reads, “UCS, an independent alliance of science analysts, undertook an in-depth study of the current and future impact of climate change on 30 at-risk heritage sites in Southern Africa. The group’s findings were released in a report titled ‘National Landmarks at Risk: How Rising Seas, Floods and Wildfires Are Threatening the Worlds’ Most Cherished Historic Sites.’

Botswana represents Africa’s exciting new coal and energy province, and has generated considerable buzz within the African and international coal, energy and investment industries. Botswana represents 66% of Africa’s known coal resources – over 210 billion tonnes (some suggest this will rise to over 320 billion tonnes), making it Africa’s second largest coal resource. Already the Takatokwane Coal project cost is going to gobble up P7.2 Billion.

Adam Markham, director of the Climate Impacts Initiative at UCS and one of the report’s co-authors, said, “Climate change has become a lightning-rod political issue, and we were trying to depoliticise it by showing how seriously it impacts places that all Americans care about. For us, it was a way to take the politics away from climate change.”

In a move to quell concerned scientists, the Botswana Chamber of Mines and the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, will in March host the Coal and Iron Ore Botswana conference from 24-26 March at the Grand Palm. Meanwhile later on this year, Botswana is’ set to host yet another conference, dubbed Botswana International Coal and Energy Conference, of which the dates are yet to be announced.

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