Climate change and increasing energy demands are major global challenges at the top of the international agenda.
The onset of climate change has come about following over 200 years’ worth of unchecked manmade activities that have had a negative impact on the world around us – from deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels to driving cars or throwing away perfectly useable materials.
Industrialisation has also continued to throw the spanner in the works on this thorny issue which is becoming a global time-bomb.
China and USA are the world’s two largest economies, energy consumers and emitters of greenhouse gases. Together, China and the United States account for nearly 40 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Increased number of manufacturing and processing industries in China has overtaken the EU and the US to become one of the world’s largest emitter, with CO2 emissions from fossil fuels tripling over the past 30 years.
The recent scenes of Beijing smog which was so thick that it made noon look like an apocalyptic dusk, is a vivid reminder that indeed environmental damage has been caused and the throbbing of mother nature is now starting to hit back hard.
Environmental obliteration caused by these industrialised countries has already changed weather patterns, increased flooding and drought, and has made the sustainability of food self-sufficiency to be harder not only in these countries but also other countries across the globe. Many coastal cities, especially those surrounding industrialised countries, could also be at risk, as sea temperatures warm, glaciers melt and sea levels rise.
Although countries in Africa have some of the lowest overall and per capita global warming emissions on the planet, they are also likely to suffer from some of the worst consequences of climate change.
We become more vulnerable to climate change because of relatively weak institutional capacities, low resource management capabilities, inadequate technology and information infrastructure as well as land degradation, which combined pose serious hurdles to effective climate change responses.
That is why we have been witnessing unfolding environmental impacts, such as in the form of droughts, famine, desertification, and population displacement.
A lot has changed over the years. Back then when we were young, rain patterns were more predictable and the soils were fertile, enabling most of the families in many villages to grow enough food to take them through the dry season.
That is no more! Today, things are dramatically different. Climate change has had a devastating effect on our agricultural productivity. The rain seasons have become erratic and the soils have lost their nutrients. Smallholder farms barely produce enough to feed the community, let alone to raise enough income to send their kids to school.
Rwanda, like other sub-Saharan African countries, faces the uncertainty and potential risks of climate change. The country’s fragile ecosystem will be put under intensive pressure arising from species migration due to habitat destruction and reduction.
Experts have called for the speedy ratification of COP21 agreements to enable developing countries easily fight climate change that’s threatening lives of many of their citizens.
The United States and China have announced they will formally ratify the Paris climate change agreement in a move many have welcomed as a significant advance in the battle against global warming. Paris Agreement will ultimately prove to be a turning point in the fight against emissions.
With the Paris Agreement, the world has an equitable, durable yet flexible global framework for reducing emissions, strengthening climate resilience and providing support to developing countries to build low-carbon economies and adapt to inevitable climate impacts.
This global climate deal will accelerate the growth of clean energy and help us achieve Sustainable Development Goals. It will strengthen international stability and security, save lives and improve human well-being.
Nonetheless, we are also required to contribute towards restoring our lost glory in managing our environment where we live. We need to utilise more of solar energy and gas in our homes rather than charcoal to avoid deforestation.
We also have to encourage investors, and international financial institutions to significantly scale up investment in energy – especially renewable energy – to unlock Africa’s potential as a global low-carbon superpower.
In conclusion, we should continue to support the efforts of FONERWA, (Rwanda National Climate and Environment Fund), to invest more in environment and climate change programmes by encouraging public agencies, local governments, the private sector, academic institutions and civil society organisations to come up with innovative proposals which can significantly lead to transformational change and boost climate resilience.Follow https://twitter.com/@kimanuka