Zimbabwe is ready to tackle climate change | Climate crisis

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The COP26 meeting of nations came at an extraordinary time in world history. Many countries are still battling the pandemic, its impact on public health and public finances. At the same time, the urgency of the climate crisis is forcing transformational changes in economies. The discussions over these two weeks have been instrumental in agreeing on a collective way forward and I am proud to represent Zimbabwe at this important moment.

In my country, we feel the impact of climate change more than many others. Our temperatures have risen by around 2 degrees Celsius over the past century, which has seen a significant increase in extreme weather conditions. In the last two decades alone we have faced 10 droughts. If world leaders do not step up climate action, developing nations at the forefront of the fight against climate change will see the loss of jobs, the destruction of livelihoods and the devastation of lives. This is something we must avoid and that is why Zimbabwe comes up with ambitious plans to tackle climate change and save our planet.

My government has now committed to reducing emissions by 40% before 2030. This builds on a previous commitment to reduce emissions by 33% set in 2017. The new target will see greenhouse gas emissions reduced to 44, 7 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e) by 2030, a reduction of about 30 million tons. One of our paths to achieve this is through a significant expansion of renewable energy with the goal of having 26.5% of all energy from renewable sources by 2030. This includes investments in hydroelectricity, solar energy and biomass. .

We have also reaffirmed our commitment to conserve the diverse wildlife we ​​have been blessed with. We have 11 protected national parks, each offering a safe environment for our wildlife, including African buffaloes, African elephants, endangered black rhino, southern giraffes, African leopards, lions, plains zebras and several species of antelope.

Last year, mining was banned in all of those national parks. Additionally, my government has partnered with non-profit African Parks for conservation, signing a 20-year agreement in November 2020 to manage Matusadona National Park.

However, with all this ambition, we still have to cope with the shocks of drought and the impact of climate change through the necessary social safety nets. That is why I have called for multilateral support to complement our efforts. Developed nations need to expand access to climate finance as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the longstanding commitment to contribute $ 100 billion annually to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change has been elusive. Wealthier countries need to lead by example and accelerate this funding. All it requires is political will.

Another step major economies should take to support us and others is to end the political and illegal use of sanctions. In late October, UN Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan called for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe by the EU and the US after completing a fact-finding mission.

He echoed the arguments I have articulated since taking office that sanctions and the differing compliance with sanctions have had “an insidious ripple effect on the economy of Zimbabwe and the enjoyment of basic human rights, including access to health, food, safe drinking water and sanitation “.

If the sanctions were lifted, we would have a chance to realize our plans to become a middle-income country by the end of this decade, helping thousands out of poverty, spurring innovation and once again enabling Zimbabwe to play a leading role in the African continent.

I believe we have shown our willingness and desire to play a responsible role in the international community. We have made great progress over the past three years and have dealt with many of the reforms that have been demanded of us, including providing compensation to landlords who had their properties expropriated in the 2000s and fighting corruption. We are applying to rejoin the Commonwealth of Nations and I hope my presence at COP26 is another sign of Zimbabwe’s reunification efforts.

I was encouraged by the warm bilateral conversations with US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Council President Charles Michel and others during the first week of the conference.

But the time for words is over: we must act now. My hope is that the developing world is free to play its part in the global fight against climate change and is equipped to deal with its devastating consequences.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.

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