The country known for being the most populous landlocked country in the world has today shocked the UN climate talks with what some may call the most ambitious Climate Action Plan to date.
The plan has been years in the making, and balances the nation’s needs to adapt and mitigate climate change hand-in-hand.
Saying this, the plan highlights how “Ethiopia intends to achieve its vision of becoming carbon-neutral”.
Building on the G7’s announcement that they intend to end fossil fuel use before the end of this century, it is leadership from developing nations such as this which many believe will be the key to unlocking a carbon-neutral future.
However, the most recent plan also comes with ‘conditionalities’. In their recently released plan, Ethiopia have stated that the “full implementation” of their carbon neutral aspirations will be “contingent upon an ambitious multilateral agreement being reached among Parties that enables Ethiopia to get international supportand that stimulates investments”.
There may also be questions over the predictions that underly their reductions predictions.
While UNFCCC countries have traditionally chosen to focus their Climate Action Plan predictions around a “base year” ranging from 1990 to 2005, Ethiopia have here planned to project a significant rise in their emissions into the future.
As this graph below shows, this rise in emissions means that the total emissions decrease by 2030 will in fact be a minor step down on their 2010 emissions total.
According to the IMF, Ethiopia was one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and the fastest growing non-oil-dependant African nation with economic growth rates above 10 per cent each year between 2004 and 2009. It is based on this rapid growth rate that the 2030 emissions projections are so high.
However, given the development needs of the country, with over 25 million people still suffering the horrible impacts of poverty, these targets show incredible climate leadership.
In an exclusive interview, we talked with Mulugeta Mengist Ayalew about the nation’s inspirational development plans to incorporate economic growth and sustainable development hand in hand.
He noted that “by 2025 we will not only have a zero carbon economy, but a negative carbon economy”.
As they highlight in their plan, “Ethiopia has already committed significant resources to reduce GHGs and build resilience”. This includes measures to rehabilitate deforested areas, upscale renewable energy and invest in improved transportation systems.
Ethiopia has also put in place a national fund, the Climate Resilient Green Economy Facility (CRGE Facility), as a means of mobilising domestic and international finance and provide flexible funding sources to meet their aspirations. The Facility has reportedly “managed to attract resources from a number of bilateral and multilateral development partners”.
However, their key source of emissions cuts will come from afforestation. This is what many may call “positive – negative emissions” as opposed to other so-called sources of future negative emissions such as Carbon Capture and Storage or biomass. Both of these ‘options’ are currently plagued with controversy over their operational potential and impact on rural land holders.
Ethiopia’s greatest emission reduction potential is in the agriculture and forestry sectors, constituting 85% of emissions in 2010…Furthermore, Ethiopia intends to increase its ambition by expanding its forest cover, beyond the initial target for the afforestation and reforestation of 7 Million Hectares, with continued involvement from local communities that are already contributing substantially to the attainment of this target.
With all eyes on a long term goal to decarbonise the global economy, it is leadership from large, rapidly developing countries such as Ethiopia that could indeed go a long way towards a successful to a global agreement.
That is, if their leadership is supported.