‘Fo­cus should re­main on cli­mate change’

Lesotho Times - - Business -

WORLD lead­ers, civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­ter­na­tional agen­cies are meet­ing in Mar­rakech, Morocco for the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC) Con­fer­ence of Par­ties (COP) 22 to come up with best so­lu­tions to help hu­man­ity cope with harsh ef­fects of cli­mate change.

The con­fer­ence has been run­ning from 8 Novem­ber, hardly a week af­ter the land­mark rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Paris Agree­ment, bring­ing all na­tions into a com­mon cause to un­der­take am­bi­tious ef­forts to com­bat cli­mate change and adapt to its ef­fects. It will end to­mor­row with the stated ob­jec­tive of en­hanc­ing sup­port for as­sist­ing de­vel­op­ing coun­tries as they are the most vul­ner­a­ble to cli­mate change.

In this wide-rang­ing in­ter­view, Le­sotho Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ser­vices ‘Mathabo Ma­ha­habisa speaks to Le­sotho Times (LT) reporter Pas­cali­nah Kabi about Le­sotho’s im­pres­sions on the con­fer­ence which has been de­scribed by COP 22 pres­i­dent and Moroc­can For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sala­hed­dine Me­zouar as the last op­por­tu­nity to act to avert the im­pact of cli­mate change on vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions and poor coun­tries.

LT: Since COP 22 started on 8 Novem­ber, what are the im­pres­sions of Le­sotho on the on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions seek­ing to find strate­gies to mit­i­gate and adapt to cli­mate change?

Ma­ha­habisa: The past week has been dom­i­nated by ne­go­ti­a­tions among world lead­ers and var­i­ous del­e­ga­tions. The ne­go­ti­a­tions looked ex­ten­sively into few agree­ments that have been made in the past years.

Two of those agree­ments in­clude the Sub­sidiary Body for Im­ple­men­ta­tion (SBI) and the Sub­sidiary Body on the Sci­en­tific and Tech­no­log­i­cal Ad­vice (SBSTTA).

The SBI was es­tab­lished by the COP in 2014, re­plac­ing the ad hoc open-ended work­ing group on the re­view of im­ple­men­ta­tion of the con­ven­tion.

The four func­tions and core ar­eas of work of SBI con­sist of re­view of progress in im­ple­men­ta­tion; strate­gic ac­tions to en­hance im­ple­men­ta­tion; strength­en­ing means of im­ple­men­ta­tion; and op­er­a­tions of the con­ven­tion and the pro­to­cols. The Bureau of the Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties serves as the Bureau of the Sub­sidiary Body on Im­ple­men­ta­tion.

On the other hand, SBSTTA was es­tab­lished to help us un­der­stand is­sues of cli­mate change sci­en­tif­i­cally, telling us what sci­en­tific find­ings say about cli­mate change and its dam­age.

It fur­ther es­tab­lishes and re­ports to gov­ern­ments on how far the world has gone in ad­dress­ing is­sues of cli­mate change, de­creas­ing the tem­per­a­tures in the at­mos­phere. The Copen­hagen Agree­ment, reached in 2009, tells us that we must be work­ing to­wards mak­ing sure that our tem­per­a­tures re­main at 2 de­cree Cel­sius. As things stand now we are at around 0.8 de­grees Cel­sius.

It is worth not­ing that al­though coun­tries drew the In­tended Na­tion­ally De­ter­mined Con­tri­bu­tions ( INDC), com­mit­ting each coun­try to de­crease green­house gases (GHGS) emis­sions.

How­ever, most of these com­mit­ments are not am­bi­tions enough to help the world re­duce the green­house gas emis­sions to keep the global tem­per­a­ture rise to 2 de­grees Cel­sius.

As of today (Sun­day), we have not yet reached the agree­ment.

LT: What is Le­sotho’s re­ac­tion on the pos­ture by many African coun­tries that cli­mate change fi­nanc­ing is not ac­ces­si­ble for adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion pro­grammes?

Ma­ha­habisa: In ac­cor­dance with the prin­ci­ples of com­mon but dif­fer­en­ti­ated re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and re­spec­tive ca­pa­bil­i­ties set out in the con­ven­tion, de­vel­oped coun­try par­ties are to pro­vide fi­nan­cial resources to as­sist de­vel­op­ing coun­try par­ties in im­ple­ment­ing the ob­jec­tives of the United Na­tions Frame- work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change.

It is im­por­tant for all gov­ern­ments and stake­hold­ers to un­der­stand and as­sess the fi­nan­cial needs de­vel­op­ing coun­tries have so that such coun­tries can un­der­take ac­tiv­i­ties to ad­dress cli­mate change.

De­vel­op­ing coun­tries need to know that fi­nan­cial resources are pre­dictable, sus­tain­able, and that the chan­nels used al­low them to uti­lize the resources di­rectly with­out dif­fi­culty.

For de­vel­oped coun­tries, it is im­por­tant that de­vel­op­ing coun­tries are able to demon­strate their abil­ity to ef­fec­tively re­ceive and uti­lize the resources.

In ad­di­tion, there needs to be full trans­parency in the way the resources are used for mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion ac­tiv­i­ties. The ef­fec­tive mea­sure­ment, re­port­ing and ver­ifi- cation of cli­mate fi­nance is key to build­ing trust be­tween Par­ties to the Con­ven­tion, and also for ex­ter­nal ac­tors.

How­ever, there are so many strin­gent bot­tle­necks put in place mak­ing cli­mate fi­nanc­ing in­ac­ces­si­ble. Dur­ing the COP21 held in Paris, France, de­vel­oped coun­tries made fi­nan­cial pledges to sup­port de­vel­op­ing coun­tries’ adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion pro­grammes but very few of these pledges have ma­te­ri­al­ized into mon­e­tary terms.

So this shows that the cli­mate change fi­nanc­ing is still not avail­able for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, most hit-hard by cli­mate change, to im­ple­ment pro­grammes de­signed to adapt and mit­i­gate cli­mate change.

There is also an is­sue of trans­parency; de­vel­oped coun­tries are find­ing it hard to play their cards openly. So you can see that as African coun­tries, though we are emit­ting very low, we are un­able to ac­cess the cli­mate change fi­nanc­ing de­spite the fact that we have been told it is avail­able.

Cli­mate change fi­nanc­ing is one of the ma­jor is­sues which COP 22 must ad­dress if we are to adapt and mit­i­gate cli­mate change suc­cess­fully.

LT: COP22 Pres­i­dent Sala­hed­dine Me­zouar said the on­go­ing con­fer­ence is “an op­por­tu­nity to make the voices of the most vul­ner­a­ble coun­tries to cli­mate change heard”. What voices are you mak­ing as gov­ern­ment to en­sure that Ba­sotho are well equipped to adapt and mit­i­gate cli­mate change?

Ma­ha­habisa: We have many pro­grammes seek­ing to ad­dress is­sues of cli­mate change in Le­sotho. Such pro­grammes are cham­pi­oned by dif­fer­ent in­sti­tu­tions in the coun­try as cli­mate change is a cross-cut­ting prob­lem that needs to be ad­dressed across all the sec­tors. Gov­ern­ment min­istries, non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­ter­na­tional agen­cies are all work­ing to­wards a com­mon goal of en­sur­ing that Ba­sotho are ca­pac­i­tated enough to adapt to and mit­i­gate ef­fects of cli­mate change.

As LMS, un­der the Min­istry of En­ergy and Me­te­o­rol­ogy, we have dif­fer­ent pro­grammes tar­get­ing schools with the big­gest milestones be­ing the in­clu­sion of cli­mate change in the na­tional cur­ricu­lum.

We are strongly be­liev­ing that ed­u­cat­ing chil­dren on is­sues of cli­mate change will help us make all the right noises to en­sure that peo­ple un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate is­sues of cli­mate change and the im­por­tance of tak­ing care of their en­vi­ron­ment. We have trained the me­dia on cli­mate change and the ozone layer, closely work­ing with them as one of the strate­gies of ed­u­cat­ing Ba­sotho about cli­mate change.

LT: World lead­ers in the on­go­ing COP22 stated that women are most vul­ner­a­ble to ef­fects of cli­mate change. What is Le­sotho do­ing to ca­pac­i­tate this group?

Ma­ha­habisa: This is a fact we can­not run away from. Women and chil­dren suf­fer the most un­der the ef­fects of cli­mate change. Women are the pil­lars of their homes. They are ex­pected to feed their fam­i­lies, no mat­ter the cir­cum­stances.

So we need to give them all the tools to adapt to ef­fects of cli­mate change. We need to avail adap­ta­tion meth­ods to the doorstep of our African women. Such adap­ta­tion meth­ods in­clude ca­pac­i­tat­ing women through tech­nol­ogy trans­fer, see what is suit­able for them to use to adapt and mit­i­gate cli­mate change.

Un­less we fully ca­pac­i­tate women, it is go­ing to be rather dif­fi­cult to win the fight against cli­mate change as we would have left a crit­i­cal group be­hind. Women are the glue that holds their fam­i­lies and if their vul­ner­a­bil­ity to cli­mate change is not ad­dressed, we would be fight­ing a los­ing bat­tle.

LT: What im­pacts does cli­mate change have on the world’s abil­ity to achiev­ing the am­bi­tions Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGS)?

Ma­ha­habisa: Cli­mate change has a huge bear­ing on the world’s abil­ity to achieve all the set goals in the SDGS. It must be noted that while there is a spe­cific SDGS on cli­mate change, Goal 13 which seeks to take ur­gent ac­tion to com­bat cli­mate change, it cuts across all the 17 SDGS.

We can­not talk about SDGS on food se­cu­rity, health is­sues, agri­cul­ture, forestry to just men­tion a few with­out talk­ing about cli­mate change as it has a huge bear­ing on each coun­try’s abil­ity to achiev­ing SDGS on food se­cu­rity, health and forestry.

It is also im­por­tant for peo­ple to ap­pre­ci­ate our agri­cul­ture is still rain fed. We rely heav­ily on rain for us to yield qual­ity pro­duc­tion. In the era of cli­mate change where we ex­pe­ri­ence drought or floods due to cli­mate change, our agri­cul­ture suf­fers a blow. So you can­not talk about food se­cu­rity with­out cli­mate change.

It is also im­por­tant for us all to ap­pre­ci­ate that peo­ple can­not have ac­cess to clean wa­ter if we are not do­ing our best to com­bat ef­fects of cli­mate change. If the sit­u­a­tion con­tin­ues as it is now, the SDG on forestry will be achieved as cli­mate change con­tin­ues to have dire ef­fects on this sec­tor. If we do not mi­grate to proper ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems as one of the meth­ods to com­bat­ing cli­mate change, ac­cess to clean wa­ter by all in 2030 is a far­fetched dream.

All these sec­tors are af­fected by cli­mate change and we need to main­stream it in our plans put in place to achiev­ing SDGS.

Cli­mate change has a huge bear­ing on the world’s abil­ity to achieve all the set goals in the SDGS. It must be noted that while there is a spe­cific SDGS on cli­mate change, Goal 13 which seeks to take ur­gent ac­tion to com­bat cli­mate change, it cuts across all the 17 SDGS. We can­not talk about SDGS on food se­cu­rity, health is­sues, agri­cul­ture, forestry to just men­tion a few with­out talk­ing about cli­mate change as it has a huge bear­ing on each coun­try’s abil­ity to achiev­ing SDGS on food se­cu­rity, health and forestry

LE­SOTHO me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ser­vices Di­rec­tor ‘mathabo ma­ha­habisa

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