Zim to ratify Paris Agreement…as treaty takes effect quicker than expected
October 10, 2016 | Source
Jeffrey Gogo Climate Story
President Robert Mugabe said at Parliament’s official opening last Thursday that he expects lawmakers to formally consent to the treaty, which could reshape Zimbabwe’s climate response.
Legislators of Zimbabwe’s Eighth Parliament are meeting for a Fourth Session this quarter. “This Session of Parliament is . . . expected to ratify the Paris Agreement, which allows the country to benefit from programmes on climate change,” said President Mugabe.
Zimbabwe has been hit hard by changing climates, with drought and flooding becoming frequent and more severe. A drought triggered by El Nino last summer has left 4 million people in need of food aid, and authorities in search of $1,5 billion to reverse the damage.
But there isn’t just enough money to go around helping people cope with the changes brought on by climate change. With a promise of $100 billion per year in funding for poorer nations, the Paris Agreement is seen by many as a key intervention for those struggling to cope.
By ratifying the climate accord, President Mugabe hopes Zimbabwe will be better positioned to benefit from similar funding, helping to strengthen existing and future public adaptation and mitigation projects.
“The growing incidence of droughts in Zimbabwe presents a clarion call for all of us to build capacity to effectively cope with disasters related to climate change,” he told Parliamentarians.
Ratification demonstrates intent on the part of Zimbabwe — and other countries that have already done so — to be legally bound by the terms of the accord. As a matter of fact, those that have approved are now bound legally.
It’s a process that could take years here, if past experience is anything to go by. An agreement signed in 2012 to extend the Kyoto Protocol — Paris’ predecessor — for another 7 years beginning 2013 called the Doha Amendment was endorsed by Parliament only in April this year.
The process involves the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate bringing the global pact to both the Senate and House of Assembly for scrutiny and endorsement, before it is taken to the President for final approval.
Further, Parliamentarians may have to go through a series of trainings to bring them up to speed with not just the details of the agreement, but also climate change itself. But the lethargy in approving treaties isn’t just a Zimbabwean problem; it’s global.
It took almost a decade to bring the Kyoto Protocol — signed in Japan in 1997 — into force. Deputy climate change director in the Climate Ministry Mrs Veronica Gundu has hailed the fast-track ratification of the Paris Agreement.
“I think it’s good to see leadership on climate action by the developed world,” she said, by text message. “Somehow, it is an assurance to the developing countries. We are also going to join the good cause and contribute to the mutual effort of bolstering climate action.”
Rich countries — historically responsible for causing climate change — have faced criticism for delaying climate action at a time the world was literally burning. Last week, seven European countries — accounting for four percent of global emissions — together with Canada, Nepal and Bolivia approved the treaty, joining the US and China, the two biggest emitters, that had already done so some weeks ago.
To take effect, the Paris climate agreement needed ratification by at least 55 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, representing at least 55 percent of global emissions. Now, 73 out of the 195 UNFCCC members have formally consented, bringing the threshold of emissions to 57 percent.
Agreed in France last December, the Paris Agreement aims mainly to curb global temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, and to avail a minimum $100 billion per year in climate finance for poor nations beginning now.
Zimbabwe needs over $35 billion — nine times as big as its $4 billion annual spending — to cope with climate change in the decade to 2030, according to its climate plan to the UN.
More than $55 billion will be required for mitigation, to be achieved mainly in energy where emissions are to be cut by 33 percent under a business as usual situation by 2030.
And, of course, Zimbabwe needs global aid, most desperately.
Its limited annual national budget barely scraps the surface of the amount of work needed to help communities cope.
It is in this respect that approval of the new climate agreement is most relevant to Zimbabwe.
God is faithful.