Zimbabwe has raised its climate ambition by increasing its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 33 per cent to 40 per cent in its recently unveiled 2021 Revised Nationally Determined Contributed (NDC). Zimbabwe also plans to reduce methane emissions from the waste sector by 2030, and expanded its mitigation targets to include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), black carbon, and particulate matter. While Zimbabwe’s original Intended Nationally Determined Contributions focused primarily on the energy sector, its updated NDC includes the waste, energy, agriculture, forestry, and land use sectors.
“Zimbabwe is part of the global movement to combat climate change and this long-standing interest includes measures to address short-lived climate pollutants, which is a strategy to not only address global warming but also air pollution,” said Kudzai Ndidzano, the Deputy Director at Climate Change Management Department of the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)in 2018 and the CCAC and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) used analytical modeling to help Zimbabwe assess their greenhouse gas and short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) emissions to show where they can increase their mitigation goals.
“Through this collaboration, Zimbabwe gained a better understanding of the benefits of reducing short-lived climate pollutants not only for addressing near-term global warming, but also to improve air quality, which has direct health benefits on the population. The premature deaths we can avoid are really critical,” said Ndidzano. “Short-lived climate pollutants affect crop production, and because Zimbabwe is an agro-based economy, the tons of avoided crop losses from their reduction is very significant.”
Zimbabwe’s NDCs also include a dedicated section on waste, due to concerns over the rapid increase in waste production and the concurrent rise in methane emissions. Zimbabwe hopes to collect 42 per cent of the methane emitted from waste and convert it into energy as well as compost 20 per cent of organic matter. These measures are also outlined in the country’s existing Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS) and Zimbabwe’s Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan. Zimbabwe aligned its NDC goals with existing National Development Plans and policies to help ensure success and maximize efficiency.
To increase ambition, it’s important to include measures that have widespread benefits because, as you make bigger commitments, you want to make sure you’re bringing in things that directly benefit people.
For its NDC update Zimbabwe assembled a technical committee, drawing on experts from the government, private sector, civil society, and local authorities to discuss what should be included. Representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Youth, industry associations like the Business Council for Sustainable Development, civil society representatives, United Nations agencies, and development banks were all represented.
Ndidzano says that benefits to health and well being from reducing short-lived climate pollutants is a reason why they were able to build broad support for their inclusion in the NDCs. Reducing global methane emissions by 45 per cent, for example, could prevent 260,000 premature deaths from air pollution.
Ndidzano and his colleagues used the analyses of greenhouse gas mitigation and development benefits gathered with the CCAC and SEI, to show how SLCP reductions benefit the health of Zimbabweans and the agricultural sector, on top of climate change impacts.
“That made it simpler for the stakeholders to include short-lived climate pollutants, they pretty easily agreed to it after hearing all of these benefits,” said Ndidzano. “To increase ambition, it’s important to include measures that have widespread benefits because, as you make bigger commitments, you want to make sure you’re bringing in things that directly benefit people.”
The CCAC and SEI’s partnership to support Zimbabwe’s NDC update began by assessing the country’s existing climate change planning capacity, building linkages between them, and recruiting national experts to work with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate. A workshop was held to train experts on the LEAP-IBC (Long range Energy Alternatives Planning System and Integrated Benefits Calculator) tool, which helps countries assess and prioritize policy options to mitigate SLCPs.
Using this expertise, experts and government officials analyzed greenhouse gas mitigation potential for each economic sector. This helped Zimbabwe come up with a long list of mitigation options, forecast their projected effects over time, and the impacts to national sustainable development goals. It was from this list that Zimbabwe drew the measures included in its final NDC.
A key point of discussion when it came to raising ambition was making sure that we can achieve these quite ambitious goals. Now that we have this in our NDC, we need to pursue means of implementation.
The work was part of an NDC Partnership Climate Action Enhancement Package project, which enabled Zimbabwe to do a greenhouse gas mitigation assessment of the entire economy, including energy, Industrial Processes and Product Use, Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land-Use, and waste sectors. They found that 33 per cent of the country’s emissions came from the energy sector , while 54 per cent came from agriculture, forestry and land use. Industrial Processes and Waste was the third-largest contributor.
The Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Assessment also analyzed Zimbabwe’s key plans and policies to see how they could contribute to mitigating emissions, including the Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS) and Zimbabwe’s Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan, as well as strategies and plans in other sectors.
“There was a lot of capacity building to train local consultants on this technical approach. They can now do advanced modelling to quantify and project how much short-lived climate pollutants are emitted from particular activities,” said Ndidzano.
These specialists will continue to measure and assess greenhouse gas mitigation. This is important because Zimbabwe plans to institutionalize emissions modelling and hopes these local experts work with government ministries to develop and maintain future models.
Rapid population growth, urbanization, a skills gap, and the need to develop a market for the compost all pose challenges for achieving these goals. Financing and access to technology and technical capacity are also potential barriers.
“A key point of discussion when it came to raising ambition was making sure that we can achieve these quite ambitious goals,” said Ndidzano. “Now that we have this in our NDC, we need to pursue means of implementation.”
The benefits could be significant. They include job creation, better air quality, and improved energy access. The next step is to develop a national NDC action plan that outlines the key activities, actors, steps, and timeframe to achieve the NDCs. Zimbabwe will continue integrating NDC mitigation measures into national and sectoral plans and policies and monitor, train, and increase capacity. Zimbabwe plans to apply for funding from the Green Climate Fund and bilateral organizations to achieve this.
“The government of Zimbabwe appreciates the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and SEI’s support and expertise. There’s a lot we have benefited from,” said Ndidzano. “Technologically we’re still lagging behind so this kind of collaboration and support is really important to help bring us up to speed so we can properly conduct these assessments, successfully integrate our development plans with our international commitments, and move toward actions that bring about sustainable development benefits.”