Sunday, October 25, 2020

What is good for the goose may not be good for the gander – Mokaila

The European Union has been asked to do a serious rethink in capacitating Botswana technologically if it is to effectively implement projects that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. 

This was said by Minister of Minerals Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) Kitso Mokaila last week when responding to a presentation by the European Union Ambassador, Alexander Baum, during a public lecture on ‘Botswana’s Energy Policy in the 21st Century’ at the University of Botswana’s Centre for Continuing Education. 

Mokaila said: “All is good with the Conferences of Parties (COP) meetings. What is discussed there; the ideals are general but they do not meet the needs of the individual countries. What is of progress in EU may not be applicable in Botswana. Issues of technology transfer, funding ÔÇô climate funding – have been discussed for all the years I was Minister of Environment to date; still there is nothing to show. 

“Developed countries should allow us to develop. Help us because you got where you are by polluting. We are aware of the global warming situation.  And there is need for action. Climate change should not hinder the development of Botswana.”

He said in 2010 Botswana got 10 percent of locally produced electricity through the use of coal. To date, he said Botswana’s grid has covered 80 percent of the villages in the country. The government now has a mammoth task of covering the pending 20 percent. With coal regarded as one of the polluters the government has to opt for other forms of energy, and in accordance with the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) Botswana submitted to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) renewable energies such as solar energy.

Mokaila said that the Energy policy is pro-poor as it compromises the ordinary Motswana. There is no cost-effective charge tariff; he said given that using coal is expensive but the government has subsidised power utility to Batswana; but still Batswana complain that tariffs are high.  

Baum’s presentation pointed out that the Paris Agreement, of which 189 countries are signatories to, is a legally binding universal consensus.

“So we can’t sit back now that Paris is over. Our EU Commissioner for Climate and Energy, Miguel Arias Canete, said the Agreement had been reached that we already had to start acting on. The Agreement encouraged the signatories to complete their domestic ratification procedures as soon as possible to step up the action we take before 2020 of reducing emissions, maintaining finance flows consistent with low-emissions economies, and working with non-state actors,” said Baum.

Baum further explained for all but the lowest income countries, the total GHG emissions are on a strong upward trend.    

 “According to the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), without urgent action climate change will bring severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts on the world’s people and ecosystems.  Limiting dangerous rises in global average temperature to below 2oC will require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by all countries.  To stay within this ceiling, the scientific evidence shows that the world must stop the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 or at the latest reduce them by at least half by the middle of this century and continue cutting them thereafter,” said Baum.

He added that the current global average temperature is 0.85┬║C higher than it was in the late 19th century. 

Explaining the efforts so far taken in implementation process following the Paris Agreement, Baum said: “To date, Ôé¼234 million have been committed to support national programmes. The GCCA supports the mainstreaming of climate change into national development planning in two thirds of these countries. Support is being provided to adaptation programmes in climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, coastal zone protection and land and water management. 

“The GCCA is also active in the fields of forest management, disaster risk reduction and clean energy. These programmes in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific are strengthening the capacity of some of the most vulnerable developing countries to tackle climate change.”

He said often neighbouring countries that share a common geography face similar climate change challenges. To date, he said Ôé¼60.8 million have been committed to support regional programmes.

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