By Dr Moses Amweelo
According to Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change (IPCC) 2001, mitigation refers to an anthropogenic intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.
These include the use of renewable energy sources and efficient technology among many other actions.
Namibia developed a national climate change strategic and action plan 2013-2020 and two themes under mitigation namely: sustainable energy and prioritised low carbon development and transport.
Under these themes, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has developed a programme called Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) and it refers to any action that reduces emissions in developing countries and is prepared under the umbrella of national governmental initiatives.
They can be policies directed at transformational change within an economic sector, or actions across sectors for a broader national focus.
National appropriate mitigation actions are supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity building and are aimed at achieving a reduction in emissions relative to business as usual emissions in 2020.
Namibia’s NAMA is focused on rural development in Namibia through electrification with renewable energy.
The NAMA programme presents an opportunity for sustainable development for Namibia, and, at the same time, an opportunity for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.
The proposed programme was designed to support Namibia in achieving its strategies for rural electrification and to complement on-going activities in this field.
The programme’s overall target is to support Namibia in achieving the goal defined in the off-grid energisation master plan namely, to provide access to appropriate energy technologies to everyone living or working in off-grid areas.
In respect of transport, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in collaboration with the City of Windhoek has developed a project proposal on low carbon transport in Windhoek.
The project aims at providing the necessary means for the development of a low-carbon city (that can be replicated to other towns in the country).
Windhoek is rapidly developing and so this project will set Windhoek city as a role model for sustainable transport in southern Africa.
The project would contribute to climate change mitigation through increased access to public and non-motorised transport and avoid increasing congestion and thus reduce Namibia’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.
Target actions would include construction of public transport, walking and cycling facilities, raising awareness of low-carbon transport options and vehicle fuel efficiency, strengthened institutional and regulatory systems for climate responsive planning, integration of climate change into land-use plans and renewal of the existing public vehicle fleet.
The project will be submitted to the Green Climate Fund, an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was adopted by 195 Parties at the end of 2011.
Its primary purpose is to promote a paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways in developing countries that are vulnerable to the impact of climate change.
The fund is intended to be the centrepiece of efforts to raise climate finance of US$100 billion per year by 2020.
Regarding adaptation activities in Namibia, climate change will affect everyone, all sectors and at many levels and it will have a profound impact on the entire chain of livelihood, economic growth and ecosystem.
This is proven by scientific modelling and prediction for the factor that the country is characteristic with most arid climate in southern Africa; hence our economy is already exposed to difficult and harsh conditions with water accessibility a serious threat.
Prolonged drought, although considered normal to some extent, has devastating impacts on livelihood, food availability, health and wellbeing in many of our rural communities.
Namibia has placed more focus on adaptation that is currently implemented under four key critical themes, that is, food security and sustainable biological resources; sustainable water resources base; human health and wellbeing; and infrastructure development.
To date, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism – which is responsible for planning, formulating and coordinating all climate change-related initiatives – has initiated notable interventions that aim to embrace national government/development plans towards a resilient nation.
The following programmes were initiated to address climate change adaptation namely: scaling up community resilience to climate variability and climate change in northern Namibia, with a special focus on women and children.
This project aims to strengthen the adaptive capacity to climate change and reduce the vulnerability of 4,000 households (80 percent of which are female headed) and children in 75 schools, to drought and floods in northern Namibia by scaling up the most promising adaptation pilots from Namibia’s community-based adaptation (CBA) programme and a Green Climate Fund project previously implemented as well as developing a response plan for the identification and prioritisation of technologies to address water scarcity in Namibia.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has developed a response plan for climate change adaptation technology that allows the country transition to sustainable water security.
The response plan was submitted to the Climate Technology Centre and Network, which is one of the arms of the UNFCCC responsible for facilitating and assisting the non-annex countries such as Namibia with relevant technologies to address impacts of climate change and advocacy on climate change awareness campaign.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism in collaboration with Hanns Seidel Foundation and Desert Research Foundation of Namibia are conducting the public awareness workshops on climate change issues, to ensure that the information is disseminated to all interested and affected parties’ country wide.
Awareness raising efforts are a key feature of attaining the goals of our national climate change policy.
As such, cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder initiatives, such as this collaboration, are of great importance to support education and public awareness for adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change and continuing to oversee the implementation of these activities in line with the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
You could be forgiven for thinking that electric cars are a magic bullet for transforming the streets of the UK. London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith has claimed they will soon make buses in the capital redundant, and the city has launched a £100m project to encourage more people to use electric cars. There is, presumably, a clear case for saying London would be transformed for the better by electric vehicles.
Alas, we struggled to find this case written down anywhere. So we sat down with a blank spreadsheet and tried to work it out from first principles. We began by listing the problems that motor vehicles currently bring to cities. Then, we asked what electricity could do to address each of these.
Is electric better?
Perhaps the most obvious reason people get excited about electric vehicles is pollution. Conventional vehicles spew some very noxious stuff into our streets,killing many thousands each year (pdf), including several thousand in London alone. Electric vehicles offer a real advantage in reducing the dangerous nitrogen oxide and particulate matter in urban areas.
But as well as being cleaner, are electric vehicles also greener? That’s a different question – one to which the answer is entirely dependent on how the nation generates its electricity. In 2014, 19.1% of the UK’s electricity (pdf) was generated from renewables compared with 30% for gas and 30% for coal.
This heavy use of fossil fuels means the electric car is not as eco-friendly as it might initially appear. Electric vehicles basically move the fossil-fuel combustion from inside the car to another part of the country (safely outside the purview of any elected mayors). They don’t do much about how we’ll stop our nation emitting greenhouse gases.
The problems of today’s vehicles, however, go far beyond emissions. The hypermobility (pdf) they provide permits suburban sprawl (and thus extra greenhouse gas emissions) as it becomes possible for people to live, work and shop at places distant from one another. And there is another big space problem: a car used for 50 minutes a day is unused 96.5% of the time. Frequently cars are stored on roads and pavements, to the detriment of traffic flow, aesthetics, councils’ finances and the needs of vulnerable road users.
Simply swapping one engine for another does nothing to solve a raft of other problems. The UK has a billion-pound health crisis (pdf) arising from physical inactivity. Shifting shorter journeys – for example, those under two miles – from cars to active travel modes such as walking or cycling is one of the best things(pdf) any developed nation can do to tackle its health problems. Electric vehicles, at best, leave this problem untouched.
Perhaps what electric vehicle champions are really thinking of – especially when they suggest they will replace buses – is self-driving electric cars. Taking the driver out of the picture overcomes some issues, most obviously the problem of collisions – there is a high global and UK death toll from people crashing their vehicles.
A switch to driverless vehicles gives us an opportunity to rethink our relationship with cars. We could move away from the old idea that everybody should own their own car and have a much smaller number of automated cars, each in frequent use and summoned when people need them.
Self-driving cars might overcome some genuine problems, such as the number of cars on the road and where we store all the unused cars. But this future requires car makers to sell few cars rather than many. This makes it unlikely any real change will happen – especially given the cosy relationship car manufacturers have enjoyed with governments. There is a lack of ambition and vision from the motoring industry which, for all its innovation, avoids addressing underlying issues.
And even if we did shift to fewer shared vehicles, we are still left with the issues of urban sprawl, and questions about health and wellbeing. Even driverless cars do not address these fundamental problems. We need to stop building towns and cities on the self-fulfilling assumption people will travel by car. There is no future in which humans can sit down all day without paying an enormous health price. If driverless cars appear in streets anything like today’s, we risk falling into the most pathetic of robot uprisings, where they transport us helpfully from place to place while we remain inactive, growing fat and increasing our risk of cancer and diabetes.
Electric vehicles should not be considered a panacea for sustainable transport but rather a possible part of the puzzle. We need to rethink the journeys we make. Many of our urban journeys are short and we should plan cities with that in mind. Perhaps in the future we will continue to drive to the city, but we won’t drive through the city. Let’s turn cities back into a place for human beings to make their short journeys in a physically active way.
The topic of climate change is at the heart of recent discussions, as world leaders from over 190 countries met in Paris at the UN Conference and an estimated 70,000 people marched in London to raise awareness of global warming. Our carbon emission is no longer a problem, but a serious threat.
The majority of our activity here on earth emits carbon dioxide as well as a range of other greenhouse gases. The gas emission traps the sun’s heat, leading to the increase of global temperature. The stakes are higher than ever before, as the rise of even a few degrees is enough to turn the earth into an unstable environment, unsuitable for humans to flourish. Western societies are responsible for the highest amount of emission; however, the harsh effects of this are felt most by those in vulnerable positions in many developing countries. From life-threatening floods to droughts, humans all over the world who are least responsible are paying the price for our excessive use of resources.
With seasonal holiday travel just around the corner, it’s a good time to question whether we, as much as our own government, have a responsibility to live and travel in a conscious and sustainable manner.
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as responsible travel to countries with a mindset that aims to conserve the environment, minimise impact and improve the well-being of local people. Eco-travel allows you as a tourist to build environmental and cultural awareness; in effect, providing positive experiences for you, the visitor and your hosts. The two overlapping factors of conscious travel are ecotourism and ethical tourism. The world trade organization reports ecotourism to be the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry worldwide.
The availability of cheap travel means that now more than ever, people seek to go on holiday, even if it’s just for a few days. We often allow ourselves to spend more money and purely enjoy the experience of not having to worry about anything other than eating, drinking and sight-seeing. After all, you’re on holiday! Yet, it’s this kind of mentality that is a part of excessive resource waste that is a huge challenge of mass tourism.
By embracing conscious travel, you can allow yourself to feel more present and mindful of the whole experience. Here are some suggestions to help you become a conscious traveller:
The central focus of ecotourism is the preservation and protection of local environment and culture and, as a result, volunteering in both rural and natural landscapes is commonly associated with ecotourism. Whilst it is a great way to learn new skills and offer hands-on assistance with conservation of coastlines, animals and national parks, it has now become a student phenomenon, where organisations often expect large amounts of money in return for the opportunity to help. Many are dissuaded by the idea of having to pay organisations for such placements when the same money could be used on a fun holiday instead. However, there are a number of animal sanctuaries and national parks all over the world that will openly allow you to volunteer without having to pay a penny! These establishments are much harder to find because they do not advertise placements through other agents and instead will value your time if you approach them yourself.
Ecotourism is not limited to volunteering in nature. You can find opportunities to be a conscious traveller in virtually any city in the world. Sustainability: how you get to a city and find your way around it, is incredibly important. This means you should find creative ways to reach your destination and whilst there, try and support locally owned businesses. Embrace ethical tourism by using public transport systems, staying in hostels and hotels that make an effort to be green. This is more than likely to enhance local economies as well as communities wherever you go.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: This city has an incredible commitment to keeping green. Its public transport system is virtually non-existent as everyone loves to cycle everywhere! Why not rent a bike, and head to a locally owned restaurant for lunch?
Reykjavik, Iceland: The capital of Iceland is already powered entirely by hydro-power and geothermal resources. It has a goal of completely eliminating the use of fossil fuels by 2050. Take a trip to hike around the local volcano, bathe in thermal waters and enjoy the spectacular display of the northern lights.
By choosing to be a conscious traveller, you are allowing yourself to be more mindful of your environment as well as offer future generations a chance to see the world how we see it today.
By Nicola James, South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity.
Climate change that is linked to the build up of greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere has led to increases in the earth’s surface temperatures over the last 50 years. As a result the water in the world’s rivers, estuaries and the sea are also heating up. Fish are more susceptible to changes in temperature than many land-based animals.
Because their body temperature is the same as the water around them, fish cannot maintain a constant body temperature and cannot survive in temperatures too far out of their normal range. Consequently, of all of the physical stressors associated with climate change, temperature is considered to have the most impact on coastal fish.
As water temperatures increase, the metabolism of the fish increases. They need large amounts of oxygen to fuel this high metabolism and if not enough food is available then all the fishes’ energy goes into fuelling their high metabolism. This leaves them with no energy for growth and reproduction. There may also not be enough oxygen available because the amount of oxygen dissolved in water decreases as temperature increases. As a consequence worldwide, species are moving out of their normal ranges to more favourable habitats as waters get warmer.
Recent studies have shown that surface waters along South Africa’s subtropical east coast are warming significantly and this has been linked to warming and strengthening of the Agulhas current. In contrast, sections of the country’s south and west coast are cooling seasonally as winds that favour upwelling increase.
South Africa’s coast is different
South Africa is an interesting place to study the effects of climate change on marine species. The coastline, which is roughly 3000 km, is very different on each side of the continent. The west coast of South Africa is surrounded by the cold Benguela current. The Benguela Current is a nutrient-rich upwelling current. Upwelling involves the wind-driven movement of dense, cooler and usually nutrient-rich water towards the surface. Plankton grow in these fertile waters, providing food for fish. Although few species can tolerate the cold water, the cold-water tolerant or temperate species that do occur here are found in large numbers and are the basis for South Africa’s commercial fisheries.
On the east coast, the Agulhas current brings warm water from the tropics which is not very rich in nutrients. The climate is subtropical and the fish fauna are dominated by tropical or warm-water species. Although a greater variety of species is found along this coastline, the nutrient-poor water means that they do not occur in large numbers. On the south coast, the warm Agulhas Current moves further offshore and cooler columns of water rising from the depths of the ocean, called upwelling, also occur in some areas. Here a mix of tropical and temperate species occur.
What does this mean for South Africa’s fish
In response to warming waters, changes in the distribution and abundance of tropical and temperate species have already been recorded. Studies have found an increase in tropical fish species in the East Kleinemonde Estuary. This is located on the coast in the eastern part of the country known as the Eastern Cape.
The presence of tropical species in the estuary was associated with a warming of the adjacent coastal waters. Similarly, in the Mngazana Estuary also in the Eastern Cape, changes in the proportion of tropical versus temperate species were recorded.
A long-term study, based on recreational spearfish catches of the sub-tropical reef fish community at Ballito and Scottburgh which is located in the coastal city in the eastern part of South Africa known as KwaZulu-Natal, found a general increase in the abundance of tropical species in catches as well as a change in the ratio of tropical versus temperate species represented in those catches.
Although marine species generally face fewer constraints to their movement than land-based species, climate change may pose a greater threat to species when their ability to disperse is limited or suitable habitat is unavailable. This is especially so for species in one specific area. To predict changes in the distribution of the commercially important linefish species slinger, we undertook a study involving species distribution modelling. This species is found in southern Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal who share a border.
The models indicated that slinger will respond to changing water temperatures by contracting its southern African distribution from the north. Cooling waters to the south prevent the species migrating southwards. A recent review on the effects of climate change on estuarine fish species suggests that sudden decreases in temperature associated with increased upwelling will affect both temperate and tropical species. It may also prevent tropical species extending their ranges into temperate regions.
As climate change accelerates, there will be marked changes in the composition of coastal and estuarine fish communities. However, it is very difficult to predict how communities will change in response to climate change as each species responds differently to warming, and fish assemblages are unlikely to shift their distribution as a unit. In South Africa predicting temperature-driven change is further complicated by the number of different climatic zones found along a relatively short coastline and the contrasting changes expected in each zone.
The five main environmental threats to our oceans and coastal ecosystems are overfishing, pollution, invasive species, habitat destruction and climate change. Healthy ecosystems are more resilient and able to adapt to change but the combined effects of these environmental threats reduce the ability of species and ecosystems to adapt to change.
Nicola James is aquatic biologist for South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity at South African institute for aquatic biodiversity
Disclosure statement: Nicola James receives funding from the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa
For a tourist climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, some of the breathtaking tourism attractions feature is the permanent glaciers on the Mountain peaks.
Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA)
Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG)
Why concerted efforts are needed to conserve the Mountain
Provision of social services
Efforts by Kilimanjaro National Park to address the situation
Smoking out the poachers and cattle
About community projects
The views of the government
As negotiators gather in Peru, we count the cost of carbon emissions and ask what can be done to combat climate change.
Global climate negotiators have gathered in Lima, Peru, for the annual United Nations climate change conference COP 20, to discuss how to combat climate change and who should pay for curbing the world’s fossil fuel emissions.
There is a prevailing theory it should be the rich industrialised nations as they have been responsible for the majority of greenhouse gases. And five years ago, they were pledging to increase funding by $100bn a year by the year 2020.
The UN estimates as much as $175bn has been transferred over the last two years to developing nations, although there is a dispute about whether it is on track to hit that 2020 target.
Developing nations are stepping up but not together. China has said emissions will peak by 2030, while India chose to put economic growth ahead of emissions caps.
Low-lying nations may never be saved as sea levels rise and it is in Asia where some of the poorest nations will be hardest hit by climate change.
The capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, is a city under threat as it is sinking at a rate of seven centimetres every year. By 2030, according to experts, half of the city will be below sea level. Step Vassen reports from the Indonesian capital.
So what can be done to combat climate change? Will world leaders ever manage to act together? And why is it so difficult to reach a consensus on climate change?
Griffin Carpenter from the New Economics Foundation joins Counting the Cost to talk about COP 20 and the climate challenge.
The danger of deforestation
The preservation of the Amazon rainforest is considered central in the battle against global warming. But in Peru, the venue for this year’s crucial climate change conference, illegal logging continues at unprecedented rates.
“Mostly everyone here makes their money from illegal logging. You pay off the police and the right people,” Romelo Sangan, an illegal logger from Peru told Al Jazeera.
Deforestation has many causes – from slashing and burning for agriculture, to harvesting precious hardwoods for the construction industry.
In South Sudan, many people are chopping down trees just to exist. The country’s oilfields generate billions of dollars a year, but all the oil is exported, leaving millions of people to rely on wood and charcoal for fuel. The current rate of deforestation will mean no forest will be left in South Sudan within three or four decades.
Al Jazeera’s environment editor Nick Clark reports more on illegal logging in Peru and deforestation in South Sudan.
Oil and ISIL: The business behind the violence
As the armed group ISIL pushes to dominate more territory in Iraq and Syria, many think that the fighters who have joined ISIL must be motivated by a fanatical commitment to ideology.
But in an extraordinary look inside ISIL with rare access to key figures in the organisation, Al Jazeera correspondent Nick Shifrin found that ISIL’s management, organisation, and wealth are all dependent on foot soldiers whose main motivation is income.
Source: Al Jazeera