Saturday, December 5, 2009

Address by H.E Mr Festus G. Mogae opening a Workshop promoting Climate Technology and Carbon Market Partnerships

source: Republic of Botswana (2/12/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 28 of 2009
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery


[Salutations]...Ladies and Gentlemen

1. Let me join the hosts in extending a warm welcome to all participants, with a special welcome to the delegates that have travelled from far to join us here today.

2. The objective of this workshop is to share knowledge, and facilitate business and partnership opportunities. We therefore hope that you will go away from this workshop with enhanced appreciation of the problems associated with greenhouse gases emissions, information on the opportunities for carbon market finance, and successful contacts for long lasting partnerships between your organisations and Botswana.

3. The theme for this workshop is current and real. I had the opportunity to attend the recent UN Climate Change Summit convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the 22nd of September this year in New York. The Secretary-General has taken a leadership role in helping to spur and shape the global response to climate change.

4. And, while working on behalf of all Member States, he is doing so with particular concern for developing countries and for the least advantaged people. Why? It is because climate change will hit them hardest - and they will have the least capacity to fight back.

5. The message communicated at the Summit was that greenhouse gases emissions have now reached proportions that can destroy human life and societies on earth, if not halted. Global emissions would need to be reduced by at least 50% by 2050, in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

6. According to a United Nations Environment Programme, climate change is coming faster and sooner. Scientific evidence show that the ice in the Polar Regions is melting faster that previously estimated, with subsequent rise in sea level. Some island countries are already threatened by inundation. Mountain glaciers that provide human populations with water for human consumption and agriculture are also melting with disastrous consequences.

7. Africa, which is already short of water for its populations, will suffer further severe droughts and water shortages. As agriculture is the main source of income for the majority of the African population, this will worsen rural poverty and hamper sustainable development, setting us back in our efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Some of these changes are said to be irreversible as a result of the Green House Gases already in the atmosphere. The Secretary General message to Member States was that:

• enhanced action is needed to assist the most vulnerable and the poorest,
• industrialised countries must set ambitious emission targets,
• also developing countries must take appropriate action to mitigate climate change, with the necessary support, and significantly scaled-up financial and technical resources will be required.

8. He warned that there is little time left. The opportunity and responsibility to avoid catastrophic climate change is in your hands. We therefore look forward to the Copenhagen Conference next month when, we hope, nations will agree on a global response that can save our earth from total catastrophe. As many leaders have said there is no Plan B.

9. Madame Chairperson, I am happy to see that you have a number of key representatives of organisations here at this workshop to share information on these current and urgent topics. They will give you the latest information on the crises and advise on mitigating measures that countries and organisations can adopt.

10. Ladies and Gentlemen, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a substantial part of the response to climate change must come from the energy sector, which accounts for 85 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and 64 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

11. I am therefore thankful to the organisers of this workshop, the University of Lund in Sweden and the Botswana Innovation Hub and their partners, for organising a workshop to address alternative energy issues and in particular the opportunities that exists for harnessing solar energy in this part of the world as well as biogas generation through organic waste.

12. In Botswana we primarily use coal to generate electricity and power the economy. In the years ahead both Botswana and South Africa need this coal to satisfy the energy demands of their expanding economies. At the same time, both countries are pursuing options of increasing the import of hydro-electric power from their neighbours in the north.

13. What is critical at this point is that environmentally friendly solutions are found to deal with the greenhouse gases associated with the use of coal in thermal power stations, including coal washing, improving efficiency of burners, as well as carbon capture and storage.

14. However, in Botswana and many parts of Africa, the sun is the attractive alternative, that is environmentally friendly. Botswana has 315 cloudless days per year and being along the Tropic of Capricorn the sun is strong. This translates into an average irradiance of 21 Mega Joules per square meter per day throughout the country.

15. Botswana’s solar regime is one of the highest in the world. It therefore offers an opportunity that can be utilised to create a more sustainable source of energy. The costs towards harnessing this energy, however, present a challenge that needs to be addressed.

16. It is the Botswana Government policy to provide electricity to its entire population. Botswana is a large country and sparsely populated in the desert and swamp areas. The national grid is currently being expanded to reach all villages with more than 500 people. For smaller settlements, the government has settled for a stand-alone solar photovoltaic power plant as a more economical option.

17. However, the time has now come to harness photovoltaic energy in large quantities and feed it into the national grid. To facilitate this, the energy sector in Botswana has been liberalised to allow independent power producers to operate and the land is also available for solar installations. We do not have much time to lose. Some companies, I gather, have already approached Botswana with proposals for solar power stations, although these discussions are still at a very early stage.

18. Our officers from the Government, as well as speakers from the private sector will give you more information on what is already on the cards in Botswana in terms of policies, legislation, strategies, and pilot projects.

19. I also wish to state that Botswana is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and has set up a national authority to manage the Clean Development Mechanism or CDM. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, under the CDM, projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries can earn saleable certified emission reduction (CER) credits. These credits can be used by countries with an emission reduction or limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to meet part of that commitment’.

20. The developed country is given credits for meeting its emission reduction targets, while the developing country receives the capital investment and clean technology. Here is a win-win for both the developing and the developed country, while at the same time improving life on earth.

21. Ladies and Gentlemen, Botswana is ready, not just to talk, but to implement projects that can help diversify this economy. Photovoltaic power stations, thermal solar fields, and other solar applications, biotechnology options, and various environmental coal technologies are all at the top on our agenda.

22. The Climate Change challenge has also spurred nations and individuals to become innovative, both with regard to energy efficiency and to develop new ways to harness renewable energy. Improving energy efficiency provides an effective policy option for mitigation and, crucially, it yields domestic environmental, economic, and social benefits: reduced local air pollution and improved health; cost savings for energy consumers; and avoiding or postponing construction of new and expensive electricity generation capacity. Cleaner technologies can create jobs, boost industrial development, reduce air pollution, and help to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

23. I am aware of many energy policy decisions, energy efficient products, and new ways of harnessing energy from the sun, from the earth, from plants and from waste developed in Europe, US, Japan and elsewhere. I believe that some of the delegates here represent those innovative organisations and nations and can share their experience with us. I therefore encourage you to interact and network to find means through which we can together find ways of mitigating against climate change, while at the same time contributing to sustainable development.

24. In conclusion, I congratulate the organisers for convening this milestone workshop and wish all participants success in their climate change activities. Working together, we can make headway in the global struggle against climate change. Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for your attention.

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