By Nevson Mpofu and Byron Mutingwende
Yes, there is necessity to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming. This is done for the betterment of human livelihoods and for survival sake. To ensure environmental and agricultural sustainability, health and wellbeing, and being free from natural and human induced catastrophes, climate change effects should be kept in check.
The world’s population at 7,5 billion people to date faces risks, poverty, vulnerabilities and will be plunged in social, economic and political challenges.
Most countries are seriously hit by absolute poverty, be it situational or income poverty especially in Africa with a total population of 1 billion people. Its entire population is extremely affected by poverty because of climate change caused by global warming which leads to 90% induced anthropogenic disasters, which has led to severe droughts.
The above-mentioned catastrophes have drastically impacted communities in Africa, small island countries and banana republics. Some countries are failing to cope with mitigation and adaptation of climate change. This is because of several factors among them, the lack of climate finance, social cohesion and political will. The International community is largely failing to speak with one voice on mutual agreements.
Owing to climate change effects, many developing countries are struggling to cope. The Paris Agreement insists on the necessity to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming.
It is therefore a priority for the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to foster policy development so as to focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation through biodiversity protection, research and development programmes.
Secondly, the implementation Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) Technologies to reduce climate change is important. Also, there is need to create other technologies, which are conducive to a pollution-free, disease-free and an environmentally stable and manageable livable and sustainable community.
The necessity to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming is indisputably vital so that the world cannot be affected by instability in rainfall patterns, sea-level rise, disasters like floods and drought and the subsequent scarcity of water and basic natural resources.
An expert in the field of environment and agriculture, Professor Sheunesu Mupepereki of the University of Zimbabwe, when contacted for comment, said if countries stayed below 1,5 degrees of warming there were greater chances of stability in rainfall and this could result in good harvests.
‘’For countries to win on the Sustainable Development Goals like the two on ending poverty and hunger, there is great need to work on environmental sustainable policies especially on afforestation and environmental and water sustainability as well as climate mitigation and adaptation so that we can achieve a green economy in a sustainable world free from poverty and hunger.
‘’This is only achievable through unison of the Globe by sticking to agreements like those already in place like the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreements which have a bit of relief to our changing world. Of course climate has been there but 90% of this is attributable to human forces working towards destroying the Universe,” he said.
Taking the discussion up the ladder, Environmental Management Agency Chief Communications Officer Steady Kangata said to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming is not easy as long richer nations fail to agree among themselves and then sit down on the table to take it up with those most affected like African states and the small island countries which are only contributing a little.
‘’Richer States have to come together and weave social cohesion ideas meant to reduce effects of climate change so that we are at ease as far as this is concerned . Staying below 1,5 degrees of warming is possible in the long run if the burning of fossil fuels is taken action against. In fact natural solutions will work for us as we get to zero fossil fuel use. The influence of fossil fuels like coal has had diverse effects on climate.
‘’There is need to reduce the use of coal, avoid deforestation, concentration of gases like carbon- dioxide in the atmosphere, methane and nitrous oxide which are the main emissions contributing to global warming which is almost above the normal figure of 1,5 degrees,” Kangata said.
Another Expert said food security would not be a reality as long countries were not staying below 1,5 degrees Celsius.
‘’The risk is on long term economic growth challenges which are a big blow since many countries are still struggling to move out of poverty and hunger. As climate is changing, food consumption patterns and agriculture must change too. There is need to stick to drought resistant crops like sorghum and millet and resort to short-season crops like pulses that resist prolonged drought. Africa needs to invest in renewable energy, industrial development and research, the expert said.
According to the World Health Organisation, Climate Change has caused 140,000 deaths due to hunger, water-borne and vector-borne ailments. Dr. Portia Manangazira who works in the Department of Epidemiology in the Ministry of Health and Child Care said the increase in water borne diseases was due to climate change.
‘’Water-borne diseases are set to increase as long climate lives. The increase is due to climate change which gives rise to incessant rains and sometimes low rainfall amounts.
‘’Diseases like cholera are a result of failure to handle and manage food issues and properly dispose of wastewater and general poor sanitation and hygiene,” she said.
Countries like America have been accused of continuously polluting at the expense of the developing countries. In the agricultural sector, a 2 degrees increase in temperature reduces maize output by 5-22%, wheat by 10-17% and sorghum by 15-17%. This leads to food vulnerability leading to high malnutrition and nutrition insecurity, poverty and lack of human development. Such is the problem that led to high death rates of 260,000 people in Somalia from 2010 to 2012.In financial costs Africa will spend almost $7 billion to 15 billion by 2020.
This could contribute to the continuation of poverty. Climate change has a bearing on women who drive 60% of agricultural productivity. Because of climate change, women are more prone to droughts, floods and related disasters.
Women and children affected most, this constitutes vulnerability and there is likelihood of high maternal, neo-natal and infant mortality in Africa, up-surge rise of pulmonary and cardio-vascular diseases because the bigger percentage relies on fossil fuels .
Contacted for comment, Ekenia Chifamba Director of Shamwari YeMwanasikana said staying below 1, 5 could mold the girl-child of today to be a mother who contributes far more than men in building a better economy without poverty and hunger, but however, it is sad to note that women voices in climate change issues were so low over the recent years because of lack of equality and equity.
‘’Women participation is always low at all levels but on climate change, let us take the front and equip ourselves because we are the receiving end of natural disasters. We need advocacy, sensitisation and awareness of climate change, Chifamba said.
Sally Dura, the Coordinator of Women’s Coalition said use of renewable energy like related to solar, geothermal power, hydro and wind energy would lessen women’s burden particularly in Africa where 70% of the population has no access to safe, cheap, reliable and efficient energy sources.
Zimbabwe’s energy access is at 40%. There is need to develop solar energy so as to reach high levels of economic development. To attain the green economy status, there is need to increase the use of new clean, smart technologies which are against the use of fossil fuels and those green-house gases which deplete the ozone layer.