Can Zimbabwe’s adoption of ‘green finance’ help to reduce reliance on fossil fuels?

This article by by Lungelo Ndhlovu from Thomson Reuters Foundation was published in an older edition of The Beam (Dec. 2019 ). Subscribe now to read more on the subject.

Zimbabwe is heavily reliant on fossil fuels such as coal for electricity generation, firewood for heating, but the economically-troubled country has taken massive steps to address climate change and reduce its carbon emissions by 33 percent by 2030, government officials say.

The subsequent burning of fossil fuels mainly crude oil-based products such as petrol and diesel and use of coal for electricity generation have largely contributed to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, scientists have said, calling for a shift to protect the environment.

In an interview on the sidelines of an awareness seminar on Climate Change for media practitioners in Bulawayo, Director in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Mr Washington Zhakata said the country is committed to reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions to save the ozone layer.

“For Zimbabwe, the refrigeration and air conditioning sector has been seen to be one of the sectors emitting greenhouse gases which harm the atmosphere causing global warming, lethal a thousand times than carbon dioxide,” said Mr Zhakata.

The ozone-depleting substances that are released from refrigeration and the air conditioning sector include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halon, carbon tetrachloride (CC14), methyl chloroform (CH3CC13), and hydrobromofluoro carbons (HBFCs).

Bound by the law, Zimbabwe has an obligation to reduce such emissions as it signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCCC) in 1992, ratified both the Paris Agreement in 2016 and the Kyoto Protocol in 2019.

In addition, Zimbabwe uses a lot of coal, since Hwange Power station, where the country draws most of its available power, is the largest coal-fired power generator with a nameplate capacity of 920 Mega Watts. The 6 units were commissioned between 1983 and 1987.

In his opening remarks at the COP 25 in Madrid, United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres told countries that they need a rapid and deep change in the way they conduct business, how they generate power, how they build cities, move and even how they fed the world.

For Zimbabwe, the ‘rapid and deep change’ has taken form in ‘green financing’ where financial institutions have undertaken to support and fund friendly environmental initiatives in the country that has been ravaged by natural disasters.

Over the last two decades, the country was has hard-hit by El Nino, experienced heatwaves, droughts and more recently, Cyclone Idai which caused flooding and deaths of hundreds in the eastern part of the country.

Officials stand accused of not having been prepared to handle such environmental catastrophes prompting the need to invest in green financing and protect the environment, wildlife and people.

Veronica Jakarasi, Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) manager (climate finance) said the financial institution has moved to adopt frameworks set by the government to enable an environment for ‘Green Finance’.

“Lawmakers have put in place appropriate Policy and Institutional Frameworks to address climate change. Banks such as ourselves (IDBZ), with ZB Bank, and Steward Bank have embraced green financing in Zimbabwe,” she said.

IDBZ which supports green financing in Zimbabwe -Esigodini — © Lucky Tshuma IDBZ which supports green financing in Zimbabwe -Esigodini — © Lucky Tshuma

The G20 countries use ‘Green Finance’ as a broad umbrella term that refers to the major shift in financial flows requires to support projects that benefit the environment and society by reducing pollution or tackling climate change.

Zimbabwe now requires financial and technical support for quicker accomplishment of its Adaptation and Mitigation programmes from local investors, government and the mainstream banking systems to embrace the concept of ‘green finance’.

Since 2018, a total of $220 million has been mobilised by the IDBZ and the Steward Bank towards the cause. The money is earmarked for projects that curb carbon emissions through renewable energy use in homes, universities, farming and businesses.

According to the latest data from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), US$3,2 million was approved for funding climate readiness in Zimbabwe. Of the total funding, US$1 million has recently been released.

GCF is a special UN facility for tackling climate challenges throughout the world.

However, Zimbabwe had initially applied for a total of $4,2 million to help the country set up projects that mitigate climate change and raise environmental awareness.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mr Munesushe Munodawafa said Zimbabwe’s accreditation to the fund will enable the country to build capacity to address climate change as a developing nation.

The environmental management Agency was accredited as the 30th National Implementing Entity of the Adaptation Fund on the 1st of July this year, making Zimbabwe one of the nine African Countries accredited by the fund.