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Climate change law on the cards

Jeffrey Gogo Climate Story
The Zimbabwe Government is to introduce a law to tackle climate change and reduce harmful greenhouse gases emissions.

According to Climate Ministry officials, the climate change law will also focus on addressing issues around adaptation – measures through which communities cope with changes in the climate — while mainstreaming the science into national budgetary and developmental processes.

This is part of plans by the Southern African country to meet its climate goals of cutting carbon emissions by 33 percent by 2030, as pledged under the Paris Agreement on climate of 2015.

“The department of climate change and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement has begun the process of coming up with a Climate Change Bill,” said an official with the Climate portfolio. “Consultations are taking place between the Ministry and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture which oversees the climate issues.”

The specifics of the Bill are to be finalised at a later stage. However, one of the key aspects of the draft law is that it will be expected to compel companies and municipalities to cut emissions and report these transparently every year, Washington Zhakata, climate change director in the Climate Ministry, has told The Herald previously.

This is significant. Firstly, because we would have a clear idea of who is emitting what, where, helping authorities to design response strategies from an informed position. According to Mr Zhakata, the Bill will guide industry on mandatory reporting of emissions in a manner that is transparent while allowing Government authorities access to data. Companies will also now be required to obtain licenses for climate smart technologies and other issues.

Secondly, in order for Zimbabwe to comply (with terms of the Paris Agreement) it should be supported by law that will assist to enforce some of the provisions of the climate treaty. This proposed draft law fits the bill. Until now, it was a free for all; companies were under no obligation to report their carbon emissions.

Moreover, businesses so far haven’t played a significant part in transitioning to clean energy, even though they are one of the biggest consumers of energy and sources of emissions. That’s in part due to a lack of clear-cut national policies for driving renewable energy use in industry, which consumes 64 percent of the national power supply – something that the Climate Change Bill will likely address.

What we know about Zimbabwe’s rate of emissions is based on data collected or gleaned from reports on a sector by sector basis, which can be both inefficient and misleading. Perhaps this partly explains why the latest figures we have on emissions are as archaic as 20 years ago.

A lot of changes have happened across the economy since 2000, when the last emissions inventory was taken, that may have shaped Zimbabwe’s greenhouse gas emissions either positively or negatively. The proposed law, which will ride on the existing Environmental Management Act, seeks to put an end to such distortions.

Mr Zhakata said the Bill mostly targets those companies in the energy and waste sectors, which will be expected to report to the Climate Ministry their emissions from the previous year by March 31 of the following year.

Energy is the largest polluting sector in Zimbabwe, accounting for 49 percent of the national emissions total. At 6 percent, the waste sector makes up the smallest.

“Global warming potential is very high in those sectors,” warned Mr Zhakata then.“ This (the law) enables us to track whether companies are abiding to what they would have put on the table,” he opined, adding that the goal “was not to come up with punitive measures for failure to comply, but to incentivise companies to go green.”

By compelling individual companies to implement verifiable strategies that limit carbon emissions, government authorities hope to improve accountability, efficiency and transparency in emissions data collection and reporting.

The company emissions reporting plan was part of a broader national strategy “to develop methodologies to monitor emissions for self-assessment in a transparent manner” and to avoid defaulting on the Paris Agreement.

Under its Nationally Determined Contributions, a set of plans to deal with climate change drawn up under the Paris accord, Zimbabwe targets to cut emissions by over a third by boosting investments in solar power and hydropower, and by improving energy efficiency.

To do this, the country immediately needs $7,1 billion, which rises to over $55 billion over the next 11 years. The Zimbabwe Government has undertaken to meet only a fraction of the costs. Rich countries are expected to provide the bulk of the funding, as agreed under the climate treaty.

source:the herald

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