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OPINION: Ethiopia stands ready and willing to take strong climate action

Friday, 23 July 2021 10:41 GMT

FILE PHOTO: A man walks near the Adama wind farm project built by Chinese Exim bank on the outskirt of Adama Town, east of the capital Addis Ababa, November 5, 2015. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

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* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But more international finance is needed to support the ambitious and essential green measures proposed in our new climate plan

This week, I was proud to announce that Ethiopia is releasing its updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – our action plan to address climate change. The plan includes a target to reduce our carbon emissions by almost 69% on 2010 levels by 2030.

That’s perhaps the most ambitious target of any developing country and is comparable to the UK’s emissions reduction target of 68% by 2030 and 78% by 2035.

In addition, our updated NDC includes more detail on our adaptation goals, as we see adapting to climate change as just as important as climate mitigation efforts. Our ambitious NDC goes even further to create better clarity around the conditionalities of our contribution.

This NDC is a big step forward for a country that has done little to contribute to the climate crisis – a sign that we stand ready and willing to take strong action.

To achieve this, we’re going to implement sector-wide interventions including enhancing food security by improving agricultural productivity in a climate-smart manner and diversifying our livestock and animal mix.

Nature is a key part of our NDC, and activities include restoration and reforestation through tree planting under our Green Legacy initiative, enhancing climate-resilient livelihoods of wildlife resource-dependent communities in protected areas and enhancing sustainable natural resources development, management and watershed protection.

We will also improve access to potable water to strengthen community climate resilience and increasing the number of households using renewable off-grid energy sources.

None of this is easy, but we must all play our part when it comes to tackling climate change. That’s why it’s particularly disheartening that the 20 richest nations failed to use the recent meetings of their G20 finance and climate ministers to announce any new climate finance for vulnerable countries – to support ambitious and essential climate action like we are proposing.

They have yet to come good on a pledge made in 2009 to provide at least $100bn per year in climate finance by 2020, and time is running out to show the rest of the world they will keep their word before the crucial COP26 meeting in Glasgow.

Increasing climate finance while reducing overseas development assistance undermines trust. The $100bn per year must be reached well in advance of COP26 or a clear delivery plan in place to reach it as finance is one of the three pillars on which the Paris Agreement rests.

Along with keeping their climate finance promise, there are other issues that they need to urgently address. For example, climate vulnerable countries struggle to access the climate finance that is currently available. Developed countries need to get stuck in to address this along with multilateral funds like the World Bank and IMF, including through the new Taskforce on Access to Climate Finance which the UK and Fiji governments are setting up.

And the issue of unsustainable sovereign debt needs to be addressed in the context of both the climate crisis and COVID-19. Debt relief, not suspension, is the order of the day and could be made conditional on action to protect climate and nature.

Ethiopia is one of the frontrunner countries for the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Initiative For Effective Adaptation and Resilience (LIFE-AR) which aims to show how strategic support can be provided to vulnerable communities at real scale and behind their priorities. The richest countries need to commit funding behind the ambitions of the LDCs.

Ethiopia’s emissions reduction target is a challenge to all those wealthier countries whose own targets fall far short of what is needed – we are leading by example and showing it can be done. If Ethiopia can commit to such high ambition, wealthy countries need to also.