European Union External Action

Climate change is real - Minister Mokaila, Ambassador Baum!

28/09/2016 - 00:31
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"We agree that there is global warming, we agree that it is caused by us human beings and we agree that we need to do something about it, so let's go and do it," said the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Honourable Kitso Mokaila as he wrapped up his presentation on Botswana's Energy Policy in the 21st century at the public lecture on Monday at the University of Botswana (UB).

The public lecture which was organised by the European Union Delegation to Botswana in collaboration with the University of Botswana was part of a dialogue to celebrate Climate Diplomacy Week. It also featured the Head of Delegation of the European Union to Botswana and SADC Ambassador Baum who presented on EU Climate Change Policy.

Mr Baum noted that countries can still grow their GDPs with less and less carbon emissions citing Europe which has reduced its carbon emissions over the years which now stand at eight percent but still grew its economy. Whilst the combined GDP for Europe has grown by 46% green-house emissions have gone down by 23% he said adding that over a 16 year period Europe has managed to decouple green-house reduction by increasing efficiency. The complex process also involved ensuring that the regulatory environment and systems in the agriculture, energy and transport sectors work together. EU's internal energy requirements are not too far from the 20% target set long before Paris," he said pointing to the need to increase energy efficiency mainly through technologies.

"It is possible," he said telling his audience that the key is to "have higher ambitions". Mr Baum said Europe only contributes eight percent to the global emissions against the combined 40 percent from the US and China.

The silver lining in this difficult discourse according to him is that there is a significant re-alignment in countries that are the biggest polluters – attitudes are softening.

He said while developing countries could easily say 'this is a thing of the industrialised countries' the reality is that China, India and developing countries are instead coming to the party. Unlike in the past climate change negotiations, the reality of climate change has dawned on both the developed and the developing countries hence the softening and willingness to do more to combat climate change.

"Many of the biggest polluters now understand and this is on its own a success," he said. He noted that even if countries produced zero emissions towards the end of the century climate change would still occur because it is already too late to stop global warming but it will stay within limits of around 1.5%. The key now, said Mr Baum, is for countries to ratify the Paris Agreement in order to implement actions to keep the rise in global temperatures below two degrees Celsius.

Not all EU Member States have ratified but there is rapid progress in that regard he said urging Botswana to also ratify. He pointed to the different instruments to support developing countries but said such instruments emphases for now on clean energy.

 "Climate change is real, nobody can deny that," said Honourable Mokaila but pointed a finger to the west for letting down developing countries like Botswana. He argued that the realities of developing countries are different citing Botswana's two billion coal reserves which he said they need to exploit in order to provide energy and improve the lives of their people by growing the economy without being called polluters. "The principle of common but differentiated responsibility must apply," he said to which Ambassador Baum agreed and acknowledged that it is already foreseen in the Paris Agreement.

Honourable Mokaila said because Botswana's energy policy is pro poor it is difficult for the country to adopt new and cleaner energy technologies because of the prohibitive costs which will be passed to the poor Batswana energy consumers.

"Capacitate us, give us the technology and we will be good corporate citizens of the world," he said before adding that Botswana is already doing a lot to sensitise its citizens on climate change citing examples of clubs in schools and mobilisation of communities.

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