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Zimbabwe raises its carbon objectives ahead of the Paris Climate Conference

In November, Zimbabwe’s new climate change strategy revealed that the country had set a more ambitious emissions reduction target ahead of the United Nations climate meeting. Compared to a “business as usual” situation in which emission reduction strategies are not followed, the southern African government has committed to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030 across all areas of the economy.

During its very first NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) in 2017, Zimbabwe committed to a 33 percent reduction in emissions. Since the Paris Agreement in 2016, governments have been submitting non-binding climate action plans known as NDCs. Zimbabwe’s overall greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to 44.7 million tonnes of the carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e) by 2030, according to the new target. By then, emissions are expected to reach 75.4 Mt CO2e if no action is done.

As per the NDC’s latest national-level estimate, emissions in 2017 totaled 35.84 Mt CO2e. Agriculture and forestry account for the majority of Zimbabwe’s greenhouse gas emissions, with the energy sector coming in second. Thermal power generation represents the primary source of emissions in the energy sector.

Zimbabwe’s mitigation strategies include increasing forest land by 500,000 hectares by 2025, increasing 2,098 megawatts of output via microgrids by the year 2028, and increasing solar power capacity. However, Zimbabwe has committed to expanding electricity and the coal supply to the steel and iron industries independently, which will increase emissions.

The NDC made no mention of any intentions to limit coal mining or even coal-fired power generation. Zimbabwe’s new aims are “totally conditional” on “affordable international monetary assistance, investment, technology advancement and transfer, and capacity development,” according to a letter to the international community. The 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26) will be held in Glasgow, Scotland. It will start on October 31 until November 12. Zimbabwe is among the African countries hoping that renewable energy technology may aid in the resolution of its energy difficulties. Zimbabwe’s households are linked to the power grid in 42 percent of cases.

The country’s renewable energy potential is vast and diverse. Solar, hydro, biomass, and, to a lesser extent, wind as well as geothermal energy might all be part of its sustainable energy mix. In 2019, Zimbabwe proposed a National Renewable Energy Policy. By 2025, the initiative seeks to have renewable sources account for 16.5 percent of total power capacity (excluding large hydro). By 2030, this figure will have risen to 26.5 percent. These are some of the objectives it has proposed to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and they are emphasized in its climate policy.

Renewable energy solutions are a given for policymakers, non-governmental groups, the corporate sector, and certain scholars. They have the potential to meet Zimbabwe’s expanding energy demand while also ensuring long-term universal access. This is enticing at first glance, but the devil is found in the specifics.