Upon his return from the recently held Bonn COP 23 Climate Change Conference in Germany, The Ethiopian Herald has sat down with Gemedo Dalle, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to talk about wide ranges of issues. Here follows the full content of the interview.
Herald: How do you see the scale of climate change impacts and global counter mechanisms?
Gemedo: The world cannot afford to continue beset by impacts of climate change. Climate change has been nondiscriminatory. Though they might appear strong in reducing the casualties of natural disasters, developed nations have also been witnessing catastrophic events due to climate change. However, the main victims of this pressing problem are developing countries even if their contribution to the problem is negligible. Now is the time to act fast and collectively. These put demands on the world to act timely and properly. Talks should be translated into actions. Countries should continue to push for renewable energy development and carbon emission cuts. The world needs swift and pragmatic measures as there is mismatch between the scale of climate change impacts and ongoing global counter mechanisms. Countries should be on the same page for the same problem. Practical commitments should be put in place sooner than later.
Since long, developed nations have been pledging to provide climate adaption finance as compensation for least developed nations. Are they bankrolling the cash?
Developed countries are reconfirming that they would keep their promises but what matters is the outcome. They are not doing enough in supporting the counter mechanisms and bankrolling the pledged cash to be used for renewable energy developmental. So far, despite some countries' separate move, the result has not been satisfactory. There are some progresses but the countries must deliver fully and timely. Some countries are setting back in materializing their financial pledges for many reasons and some others like Germany and Norway are moving relatively fast in translating their words into actions. The main burden lies of the shoulder of the industrialized nations to fix the problem as much significant portion of the pollution attributes to the countries' carbon emission.
How strong is the lobbying capacity of developing countries in convincing industrialized nations to do more in curbing the problem?
The least developed countries have unified voice when negotiating with industrialized nations . Their concern is echoed through collective and separate representations. They argue that they have been affected in terms of economy and environment for the problem they are not accountable to. They did not contribute significantly towards global climate change and their contribution has been negligible, but they remain the hardest-hit. These nations are paying in life and resources. Climate change is real and it is happening rapidly. And the least developed nations are paying the most. The least developed nations are requiring the developed ones to provide adapting funds and reduce the release of carbon emission. Their effort is paying off with the Paris agreement progressing quicker than anticipated.
In this regard, Ethiopia has been persistent about its position and has been making clear that it is not useful to blame one another or point finger. Rather, what matters is to strengthen collective cooperation to find best way of solution.
Ethiopia for long has been representing least developed and African nations in climate change talks. Has it been effective so far?
The positions and stances of other countries are well noted and reflected through Ethiopia's representation. Resource mobilization is still there and countries are pledging hundreds of millions of USD to curb the problem. The demands of the least developed nations are somehow addressed. The shift from coal to renewable power is one of the indicators. For example, Ethiopia has been coming with numbers renewable energy development projects and pushes other countries to speed up the transformation. These all strides are part of the strong and hard work of Ethiopia and the countries it has been representing.
Some people argue that this is not the right time for Ethiopia to worry about climate change while millions of people who are living under poverty should be uplifted by whatever means. What is your take on this?
Development can be achieved at any cost, but it should be sustainable. And if we are not pushing for green economy, the issue of sustainability would get into stake. And if we must sustain economic development, building green economy is the best and the only available alternative. Growing greener is imperative for Ethiopia as climate change can have significant impact on the economy which is mainly driven and dependent on the performance of the agriculture sector.
It has been observed that the country, growing cleaner and greener, has been able to register double digit economy. There are also more instances that countries can strike a balance between being green and developed. Growing greener is cheaper for country like Ethiopia that do not have oil resources.
The fight to curb climate change depends on the collective will of nations. But does Ethiopia have its own enabling national strategy to find homegrown solutions to cope up with the impacts of climate change and minimize the risks?
Yes, culture of traditional natural resource management is what Ethiopian can count on. We have very good landscape and political will dedicated to natural resource management. We have also set significant lesson on public mobilization towards natural resource conservation. Ethiopia has taken a bold policy move to accelerate its development. The country has placed itself in a better position towards resilience building and green economic growth by setting up well-established policies and institutional arrangements. What we need then is to capitalize on these practices.