Balancing industrial activity vs climate change adaptation

24 Mar, 2023 - 00:03 0 Views
Balancing industrial activity vs climate change adaptation

eBusiness Weekly

Rufaro Hozheri

As the world is currently facing the devastating effects of cyclones, perennial droughts and other climate change and global warming-induced disasters, there is no better time than now for everyone to assess how best they can adapt to save our planet.

The best time to walk the talk and adapt to the green way of doing business in now.

But before we get too excited, we have to remember that the other side of the coin talks about the importance of improving our economic thrust. Something which is likely to be realistically achieved by compromising the above-mentioned goal, but at the end of the day a common ground has to be identified.

There is clearly no doubt that the world is better off using more ecologically friendly alternatives, especially in energy and construction.

However, the devil is in the detail when you assess the feasibility of some of the alternatives bearing in mind the state of the environment that we operate in especially here in frontier markets.

Zimbabwe being primarily a resource-based economy, mining and agriculture contribute over 25 percent of the country’s GDP, unlike more developed markets where the tertiary sector is the biggest contributor. Let us look at mining for example, which is envisaged to grow by 12 percent in 2023 with an overall target of US$12 billion in revenues, it uses significant amounts of energy.

It is apparent with power outages in the country that we currently produce way less than the power we need to run a thriving mining economy.

The greener alternatives which are solar and wind energy does less justice in powering the heavy mining equipment. In reality, as much as it sounds nice to spread the gospel of green energy, it is not the most practical and cost-efficient way. We have to understand that efforts to reduce carbon emissions i.e. moving away from coal and thermal energy can not happen overnight, it is a gradual process and the most crucial thing is to start.

To give perspective, Hwange Thermal Power Station’s Unit 7 was synchronised into the power grid earlier this week with Unit 8 expected before the end of the year, at a time when the world is going green.

This does not necessarily reflect ignorance on the part of the power supplier, but the realities on the ground that might be not in synch with the desired target. A number of Solar power plants are currently running in the country, but are not enough to sustain the entire nation.

If you consider the perceived and actual risk status of developing markets, Zimbabwe in particular, you will realise that it is not easy to implement large-scale green projects which require high initial costs. Mobilising local funding has a limit when it comes to these mega projects and it’s a reality that we have to face, in the end, our desire to be ecologically conscious ends up suffering.

However, there are circumstances that are completely within our control and decisions that we can make from individual to national levels to help fight the scourge of global warming.

The use of biogas as opposed to chopping down trees for firewood in most rural settings can help massively reduce deforestation and subsequently global warming.

At a Government level, incentivising green energy through tax reduction or elimination of hybrid vehicles and solar systems is what the authorities in this country are doing to promote more sustainable measures.

With a construction boom in Zimbabwe, it is paramount that combined efforts are made by both the regulators and parties involved in construction to adopt the most environmentally friendly ways of construction.

In addition, many investments should be made in educating the perpetrators about the devastating impacts of their activities and how they can implement more ecological methods.

More so, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) established a fund to help those vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change.

As we continue to make this planet a better place, we ought not to think about it in isolation.

We have to be alive of the fact that we have developing economies that are impoverished and need to survive, hence combined efforts with those with a surplus in developed markets should be done so that we strike a balance.

This article was inspired by the panel discussions at the Zimbabwe-Climate Change Adaptation Conference hosted by the Business Weekly last Thursday.


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