EUROPEAN Union (EU) Ambassador Dr Michael Doyle has said the union is committed to helping Lesotho develop innovative approaches to providing households with cleaner and energy-efficient cooking facilities.
Dr Doyle made the remarks while addressing Climate Change Awareness Day commemorations in Maseru yesterday.
He said the event which was held as part of the EU Climate Diplomacy Week activities was also meant to highlight the positive actions the EU was taking around the world to tackle climate change.
“The EU Delegation seeks to communicate the EU’s objectives on this topic and convey our commitment and readiness for the highest level of ambition to tackle climate change,” Dr Doyle said.
“Today we hope to foster a dialogue where different stakeholders in Lesotho can share their experiences and the respective roles they are playing to combat climate change.”
He said they also hoped to foster relationships among key local actors in government, business and civil society organisations so that they could join forces to combat climate change.
He said climate change affected every human being regardless of location and there was no hiding place.
“It is a global problem which requires global solutions. Goal 13 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires the world to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts,” he said.
Dr Doyle said while the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 which gave birth to the first legally binding (Paris Agreement) climate change agreement was a success, there was still a long way to go and that every country had a role to play in tackling climate change.
He said successful implementation of Paris Agreement was of critical importance hence the EU Delegation’s commitment to the awareness commemorations.
“The foundation has been laid and now we ought to act by moving towards ratification to ensure the Paris Agreement is implemented in full,” he said.
To date, out of 195 countries signatory to Paris Agreement, including Lesotho, only 27 countries accounting for 39 percent of emissions have already ratified the agreement.
Dr Doyle said EU member states were making progress on domestic procedures with a view to depositing respective ratification instruments as soon as possible.
“While Lesotho has not been a major contributor to GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions, the main cause of climate change, the country is, and will continue to be considerably affected by it,” he said.
He commended government for taking steps to launch the formulation of a Climate Change Policy and Sustainable Energy Strategy for Lesotho and encouraged it to continue to take steps towards ratifying Paris Agreement.
Speaking at the same forum, the EU climate change desk employee Sjaak de Boer said 55 countries accounting for 55 percent of the global emissions had to ratify the Paris Agreement for it to be legally binding.
“Unless that happens, the agreement is not legally binding but there are positive signs showing that before the end of this year 55 countries accounting for 55 percent of emissions would have ratified Paris Agreement,” Mr de Boer said.
Mr de Boer also spoke of the need for Basotho to take responsibility for their actions that had led to land degradation as it started long before the climate change phenomenon.
“The land degradation situation in Lesotho is bad and this happened way before we were aware of climate change and climate change worsened the situation,” he said.
He said the situation could only be reversed by committing to sustainable land management.
He gave the example of Ethiopia that had reversed the same problem.
On its part, government said agriculture was the leading sector in emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Lesotho Meteorology Services (LMS) representative ‘Malehloa Jockey said Lesotho’s total emissions in 2000 set at 2,134.91 Gg of CO2 with the agriculture sector leading the pack, followed by the energy and water sectors.
“We need to start planting more trees and embark on lifestyle and behavioural change campaigns to ensure this situation is reversed,” Ms Jockey said.
She said Lesotho was on the verge of ratifying the Paris Agreement.
Technologies for Economic Development (TED) Managing Director, ‘Mantopi Lebofa, said it was time Basotho start asking themselves tough questions as efforts to combat climate change were being implemented.
She warned that it was wrong for Basotho relying on wood as a source of energy to continue to chop down trees without replanting new ones.
“Whose trees are you using for firewood? You eat roasted meat every single day and use wood to roast that meat. Where is that wood coming from? For how long will you continue to use wood that you never produced,” she asked.
“Lesotho has the capacity to be greener and we can do that if we stop telling people that we are emitting less and implement policies to achieve green country status,” Ms Lebofa said.
She challenged the gathering to come up with initiatives to benefit from their own stool by turning them into biogas.