In Paris in 2015, Zimbabwe along with the rest of the world signed the Paris Agreement, gathering around a vision of a resilient, sustainable and low-carbon future for our planet. At the recent UN Climate Action Summit, world leaders from national governments, business, finance and civil society came together to discuss concrete, realistic plans to accelerate climate action. Later this year, at the 25th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, the focus is on implementing the commitments and raising the ambition.
Climate change is the defining issue for our generation and generations to come — and its impacts are already being felt in Zimbabwe. Rainfall is becoming more unpredictable, temperatures are rising and the country is experiencing more extreme weather.
The message from science is clear. If we reduce emissions now, we have a short window within the next decade to limit global warming to safe levels. If we continue with business as usual, Zimbabwe and other vulnerable nations face an uncertain future with increasing risks.
The Heat is On
Since Paris, governments around the globe have taken steps to reduce the emissions that lead to climate change and to increase resilience. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) have launched the NDC Global Outlook Report: The Heat is On, which offers the most detailed review to date on countries climate ambitions, known as the NDC’s or Nationally Determined Contributions.
The report shows that there are reasons for optimism as many countries are taking the climate challenge seriously and are building the political and legal architecture for taking action. Zimbabwe is one of these countries, having designed a long term strategy for translating emission reduction targets.
Practical plans for Low Emission Development
Zimbabwe’s Low Emission Development Strategy, developed in 2019, shows us that accelerated climate solutions and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals go hand in hand — and that it makes both economic and climate sense to reduce emissions.
For example, petrol and diesel fueled transport contributes to global warming, with the transport sector currently making up 22% of national greenhouse gas emissions — and it also has severe air pollution effects. Imagine the lungs of a street vendor or police officer; standing in the street all day breathing in the exhaust fumes of cars passing by. This year, the World Environment Day focused on air pollution, because we know that pollutants emitted from cars may cause cancer and contribute to asthma and heart disease.
According to Central Vehicle Registry data, Zimbabwe’s vehicle population more than doubled from just over 0.5 million vehicles in 1995 to almost 1.5 million vehicles in 2014 — and the traffic flows on the roads have increased substantially.
If the country would adopt fuel economy standards for new car imports, it would not only reduce fuel use per km and thereby emissions, but it would also limit Zimbabwe’s dependence on fuel imports and cut costs for consumers. Less money out of the pocket, fewer emissions, cleaner air and better health. What’s not to like?
Accelerated and increased ambitions
‘The Heat is On’ also shows us that while climate action has been taken seriously since Paris, we all need to do more and act faster to keep our planet and ourselves safe. Globally, UNDP is committed to helping countries to speed up climate action. The UNDP Climate Promise initiative aims to help 100 countries to accelerate NDCs implementation and up their ambitions.
In 2015, Zimbabwe committed to reducing emissions by 33% from the Business as Usual emission scenario. The Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS) shows us that we can actually up the target to 50% — and achieve the desired social and economic development at the same time. The Low Emission Development Strategy cuts across key economic sectors ranging from industry, energy, transport and waste to the agriculture and forestry sectors. Working with nature can deliver almost half of the high impact solutions. For instance conservation agriculture practices will both improve soil health, sequestrate carbon in the soil and help farmers to adapt to a dryer climate. At the same time, the strategy looks into how the country can leapfrog to cleaner technologies in key industries such as steel and cement, that are currently operating at low levels but are expected to grow.
Moving forward, UNDP will support Government of Zimbabwe in implementing the LEDS and coordinate climate action across sectors and actors. We know we have to run fast, but we can and must win the race against climate change.
Info Box: Zimbabwe submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement in 2015 — now known as NDC’s. Since then the Government of Zimbabwe, with support from World Bank, has crafted a NDC Implementation Framework for the energy sector and a Low Emission Development Strategy, with support from UNDP, which translates the national targets into practical solutions.
Find out more about how UNDP is supporting the implementation of Zimbabwe’s NDC here.
Written by Sidsel Vognsen , UNDP