Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said developing countries including Zimbabwe rejected proposals by developed nations to abolish the use of coal fired power plants in a bid to combat climate change.
The President last week joined other Heads of State who attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) which was held in Glasgow, Scotland to deliberate on how the world can mitigate against climate change.
Developed nations contribute most of the global emissions.
The President said during the conference, the countries lobbied that developing nations should stop using coal to generate electricity and adopt environmentally friendly sources such as solar, wind and hydro.
Zimbabwe generates most of its electricity from Hwange Power Station which uses coal, although additional power is produced from the hydro power plant in Kariba Dam.
Zimbabwe has also started making inroads in solar electricity generation, although this is still on a limited scale and is mainly done by private players.
Briefing Zanu-PF supporters at Somhlolo Stadium in Lupane, Matabeleland North on Friday before he presided over the Lupane State University 12th graduation, President Mnangagwa said most developing countries are still using coal fired power plants.
“The developed countries used coal to develop their countries but they now want us not to use coal to develop Zimbabwe or African countries. So, Africa, Latin America and Asia, we united and rejected their proposition.
We must be allowed to use coal to develop our countries. We told them that after all climate change has been caused by them not by us. We will use our resources to develop our country. That is why I always say a country is developed by its people,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said after developing countries rejected the proposal, developed countries including Britain, the United States among others then pledged financial assistance for developing countries to migrate to green energy sources.
As a result, the President said developed countries are expected to provide developing countries billions of dollars so that they shift to environmentally friendly sources of energy.
President Mnangagwa said climate change poses a serious threat to socio-economic development and Zimbabwe has not been spared from its effects.
“This conference was about climate change. Now you all know that this atmosphere has changed, we are now experiencing more frequent droughts. We no longer receive rains as we used to.
We are experiencing devastating cyclones and we had Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani and Chipinge where we lost over 600 people and we are still missing another 600 citizens in Chimanimani and we think they also died. Why? Because of climate change,” said
President Mnangagwa. Government has taken steps to mitigate against climate change.
Posting on his Facebook page, Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry Minister Nqobizitha
Ndlovu said it was prudent for President Mnangagwa to participate in the global conference as it allowed the country to outline the steps it was taking to address climate change.
He said world leaders committed to forests conservation and restoration, sustainable supply and trade policies linked to development.
“This pledge is aligned with the programmes the Government of Zimbabwe is currently implementing and participating in today’s declaration, which is a renewed collective ambition towards halting and reversing forests loss and land degradation by 2030, is a firm commitment that Zimbabwe will always put the people, environment and climate first in its development agenda,” he said.
The President said in line with forestry conservation and restoration, Government is implementing a comprehensive strategy to combat veld fires, acquiring fire-fighting equipment and improving early warning systems at community level among other measures.
“In addition, more funds from the carbon tax and the tobacco levy are being channeled to reforestation and in 2022, we target to plant 40 million trees, an upward revision from 25 million trees planted in 2021. On addressing rural livelihoods, Government in the Second Republic has started a myriad of programmes and projects to uplift the rural economies and the people’s livelihoods.
“These include agriculture input support, incentives on rural industrialisation, rural horticulture development, devolution projects, mining inputs support, and rural electrification among others,” he said.
Minister Ndlovu said on aligning agriculture policies with the environment and climate, the Government through the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme, has reduced tillage and lowered the disruption of carbon storing capacity in soils.
“Government is targeting to be irrigating up to 350 000ha by 2025; this decouples our agriculture from being rain dependent and aligns with the unpredictable climate. On the financing of forests, Zimbabwe introduced a carbon tax to raise resources specifically to invest such funds on programmes that support emissions reduction. We also have the tobacco levy which is exclusively dedicated to tree planting given the deforestation rate in tobacco curing,” said Minister Ndlovu.
“Government has introduced a programme called the Tobacco Wood Energy Programme (TWEP) where the four tobacco growing provinces are now planting early maturity exotic trees for use in the curing of tobacco in place of our important indigenous trees.”
He said Government was hopeful that participating in COP26 will also unlock financial support which is key in fighting climate change.
“Zimbabwe will continue to steadfastly play her part as a responsible global player in combating climate change. This declaration is well aligned with our goals of halting deforestation and we are grateful to our Head of State for partaking in this declaration,” he said. — @nqotshili