At a Southern African Development Community Council of Non Governmental Organisation (SADC- CNGO) panel discussion, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Ms Rapelang Mojaphoko, stated that, “Climate change phenomenon is one of the greatest challenges facing mankind to date. We are reliably informed by science that the Southern African region, to which Botswana belongs, is one of the most vulnerable regions to the impact of climate change.”
The event was held in preparation for the forthcoming United Nation Climate Change conference COP 17, which will for the first time be held in Africa, courtesy of Durban, South Africa, which is also a member state in the SADC region.
The event was organised by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Botswana, a German Political legacy established by the first democratically elected president of Germany.
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation; it is caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities. Attribution of recent climate change focuses on the first three types of forcing.
Orbital cycles vary slowly over tens of thousands of years and at present are in an overall cooling trend, which would be expected to lead towards an ice age, but the 20th century instrumental temperature record shows a sudden rise in global temperatures.
Botswana’s climate has generally been clarified as semi arid and often goes through stints of water shortage and droughts. Global Warming has not only increased temperatures in Botswana but it has also tampered with rainfall patterns and, according to Mojaphoko, “Water is becoming a scarce commodity in Botswana and its scarcity affects various aspects of the economy, such as agriculture, crops and livestock, rangelands, biodiversity in flora and fauna, health, energy, infrastructural design.” When all these factors are affected negatively, any economy has the potential to be crippled.
Participants and presenters during the discussion indicated the more industrial and western countries had an ecological debt to sub Saharan Africa which needed to be mitigated. It is stated in the Climate Change Policy paper by the SADC Council of NGO’s that, “SADC as a sub region has contributed very little to climate change.”
However, due to “its dependence on the burning of fossil fuels for energy generation, the emissions from carbon Dioxide in Southern Africa are a key contributor to climate change followed by deforestation and land degradation”.
The paper further states that the fundamental causes of global warming can be attributed to economic growth and production and consumption patterns initially from the North and due to globalisation a massive ripple effect occurred and sub Saharan Africa being part of the collateral damage.
The forthcoming COP 17 is said to be an opportunity for civil society to attend and learn how to take better care of the environment.
According to Dr Geoff Rudin, governments will deny them this chance. He indicated that governments would rather spend large amounts of money on a few ministers using environmentally unfriendly means of transportation than to afford more attendants using cheaper and more environmentally friendly modes of transportation like the sea.
Rudin also indicated that Host will be using R320 million which, in his opinion, is unnecessary.