Birdlife wants acceleration of climate change policy

Dr Senyatso
Dr Senyatso

Local avian organisation, Birdlife Botswana, has urged government to take a strong lead on climate change issues by quickly finalising the climate change policy.

The NGO made the call following the recently concluded United Nations (UN) climate change talks that were held in Lima, Peru.

“We are not moving fast enough on climate change – already we are seeing the impacts of climate damage on the most vulnerable communities, species and ecosystems, including here in Botswana,” said Dr Kabelo Senyatso, Birdlife director.

He noted that although there was incremental progress, there was still need for a rapid and fundamental shift towards low carbon, climate resilient economies. He said governments would need to take bold and urgent action over the next 12 months to ensure an effective and equitable 2015 agreement.

“We urge the government to take a strong lead on this matter and support local actors working to ensure that climate change impacts on humans and livelihoods are kept at a bare minimum. Only then could we be in a position to engage internationally, knowing that at national level, all our ducks are in a row,” he stressed.

Dr Senyatso also said as Botswana develops its own climate change policy, it would be interesting to note the extent to which the country commits to reducing its own emissions, which although currently low, is anticipated to rise with the increased use of coal reserves for power generation. “Moreover, as a country, we would need to develop this target with transparency, both to local actors, and to interested and affected parties internationally,” he said.

Globally, Dr Senyatso said the resistance of some big polluters to an assessment of their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) pledges undermines trust and credibility, adding that it would be critical that Botswana sets the right tone, as it would otherwise lose the moral ground to critique INDCs of other states on account of their fairness and equity.

He further indicated that negotiations on the pre-2020 mitigation also fell below expectation. “To keep global warming below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, global emissions must peak before 2020. But we are off target, and Lima did not deliver the scale of response necessary to put us back on track,” he said.

Dr Senyatso expressed disappointement at failure of governments to agree upon a clear roadmap for scaling up finance to US$100 billion per year by 2020, which was pledged by developed countries. “There are a number of fundamental issues that divide countries, including the provision of climate finance and support, respective responsibilities for emission reductions, and how to address loss and damage. These issues will need to be resolved by the Paris agreement,” he stated.

He said countries made progress on the possible elements for the Paris agreement, developing a “shopping list” that will be negotiated further in Geneva in February. However, he said only limited guidance emerged on the content of countries’ post 2020 climate action pledges – so called INDCs – which are to be communicated early next year.

According to Dr Senyatso, an issue of great concern is the lack of a robust assessment of the adequacy of INDCs in staying within the two-degree limit and of the fairness and equity of each country’s proposal. On a positive note, he revealed that there was enough in the Lima Call for Climate Action for land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (REDD+) to be included in country’s pledges and in short term mitigation ambition. “Of notable mention here are several on-going and planned Sustainable Land Management (SLM) projects, led by the Department of Forestry and Range Resources (DFRR) in Ngamiland and the Makgadikgadi, the latter implemented jointly with Birdlife Botswana,” he said.

He called on more partners to come on board, especially corporate companies with high carbon dioxide emissions, so that they could use these SLM projects to offset some of their impacts. He however, indicated that an important decision on the REDD+ safeguards information systems (SIS) was put off until next year, running the risk that REDD+ compromises biodiversity and human rights, and that investor confidence is undermined.

Birdlife Botswana chairman Harold Hester noted that there was a degree of optimism heading into the Lima negotiations, with the world’s largest emitters – China, US, and Europe – communicating their emission reduction targets, and countries pledging a combined total of US$10 billion to the Green Climate Fund. “There is an urgent need for more substantial and predictable financial flows to developing countries to enable them to adapt to climate change and put forward their own mitigation contributions,” he said.

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