World Bulletin / News Desk
In mid-June, Ethiopia – Africa’s second most populous nation – told the UN it plans to slash carbon emissions and become a carbon-neutral middle-income country by 2030.
Critics on social media, which was abuzz following the country’s announcement, asked why a country that is already not industrially developed should commit itself to reducing emissions while India and China, some of the world’s worst emitters, are reluctant to make the necessary environmental commitments.
Ethiopia is not a large emitter and such commitments would prevent it from industrializing in the future, opponents argued.
Ethiopian Minister of Environment and Forestry Belete Taferre disagreed and said these claims were either a result of misunderstanding or an attempt to tarnish the campaign.
“The country’s carbon neutral strategy does not in any way conflict with its industrial desires,” he said. “Ethiopia believes much of its energy should come from clean sources and it has those resources in its bosom.”
He said the country is aiming to reduce heat-trapping gases in its forestry and agriculture sectors, which accounted for 85 percent of emissions in 2010.
“While industrializing, we will only use technologies that are environmentally friendly and that are in line with current global demand,” he said, adding that the country’s commitment emanates in part from its constitution, which pledges a clean environment to its populace.
“We will not be using obsolete, second-hand technological equipment in our future industries… we will not be dumping grounds,” he said. “Our target is ambitious but not unattainable.”
He said that “numerous environmental projects carried out, including large scale afforestation that sucks up the carbon dioxide in the air,” had already started to reduce carbon emissions in the country.
After the 2011 Climate Change Conference in Durban – where Ethiopia first made its climate targets – a carbon offsetting cooperation agreement was signed with the U.K. and Norway.
“That was followed by Denmark, Germany, France and Sweden signing up to support Ethiopia in its bid to become a carbon-neutral, middle-income nation,” Belete said.
Preparations are being made toward the signing of a green development pact between Ethiopia on the one hand and the U.S. and the European Union on the other.
“The U.K.’s official development agency, DFID, will be supporting 43 projects to fast track the implementation of GTP-II [Ethiopia’s second growth and transformation plan], to be endorsed in the wake of 2016,” he said.
Asked how much Ethiopia has secured by way of financial support to offset its carbon emissions, the minister said that would be known in the future as it requires a complex breakdown of costs.
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