Environmentalists in Zimbabwe are reacting angrily to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s address at the COP26 conference, where he promised his government’s fight against deforestation and climate change. Environmentalists say the government is busy giving land to companies, mainly Chinese companies, to mine coal for energy use, which COP26 wants to phase out.
In Scotland on Tuesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, where he urged developed countries to pay for global warming by emitting gases into the atmosphere.
He said developing countries like Zimbabwe are paying for the consequences of those emissions.
He also promised his country’s cooperation in the fight against climate change.
“Zimbabwe has revised its nationally determined contribution, conditional on a commitment to a reduction in per capita greenhouse gas emissions of 40% by 2030. Comprehensive strategies to mainstream climate change adaptation and resilience across all sectors of our economy are being implemented,” Mnangagwa said.
It comes at a time when environmentalists in Zimbabwe are asking the government to revoke an exploration license recently granted to a Chinese company to mine coal for energy use.
The Center for Natural Resource Governance is one of the organizations opposing the license. The group promotes green energy, and fears that the discovery of coal will lead to more deforestation.
The group’s program manager, Henry Nyapokoto, said Mnangagwa’s comments run contrary to what he is seeing.
“But the government is in overdrive mode to promote mining everywhere in order to reach a $12 billion mining economy. In fact, it would be difficult for Zimbabwe to achieve a $12 billion economy based on poor production models, poor consumption.” which leaves a huge ecological footprint or the legacy of an ecological disaster. We all understand that mining comes with the destruction of forests that act as carbon sinks and habitats for wildlife,” Nyapokoto said.
Nyapokoto said Zimbabwe was exploring oil and gas along its northeastern border with Zambia, another project that could lead to deforestation.
“Regardless of the impact of oil and gas on global warming, there will be a direct, immediate impact of this oil and gas mining on local communities or ecosystems. Land will be cleared for mining and other infrastructure that is going to support that mining. This is in stark contrast to the greening of the economy they are talking about in Glasgow,” Nyapokoto said.
He said Zimbabwe is among the top 10 countries in deforestation, with about 300,000 hectares of forest destroyed annually.
But Byron Zamasia of the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association says Mnangagwa was genuine in his COP26 address about fighting deforestation due to the need for energy.
“So, the issue of fighting deforestation is a key component for Zimbabwe to address greenhouse gas emissions. Trees act as carbon sinks as they absorb carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming. The reason is. What we want as a country is to provide alternative sources of energy, especially for rural communities that depend on wood fuel and are responsible for a major share of deforestation. , we may need to promote intensive farming methods as opposed to extensive farming methods, which require clearing of new forests for large farms and farms.
In Zimbabwe, the Environmental Management Agency is fining people who cut or burn forests. But so far that hasn’t stopped the trees from falling.