Implementation of Ethiopia’s Green Economy Strategy: an example to learn from
By Tesfagebriel Tekola
Ethiopia is showing the world that development without harming the natural environment is possible. Instead of pursuing the conventional economic development path at the expense of environment, Ethiopia is implementing a green economy strategy to tackle the negative impact of the development process on the natural environment. The recent Future Policy Award organized by UNCCD is one of the manifestations.
Speaking when he addressed media personnel from Africa in a workshop organized by Climate Tracker in Addis Ababa, Advisor and Director of Climate Change at the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Mulugeta Mengist, said economic growth and emission growth has one-to-one relation.
He said, “If we look at the experience of the Western countries, when they grow their economy by 1% they almost grow their emission by the same amount. But, what we are planning to do is, we were convinced that we can grow our economy and we can become a middle income country without increasing our annual emission.” This is the truth that most found it to be self-contradictory.
According to Mr. Mulugeta, the key goal of the strategy was to make sure that by the time Ethiopia’s economy reaches middle income status, the annual greenhouse gas emission remains at the 2010 level, which was 150 million ton of CO2. Ethiopia, via its GES aimed to make sure that it remains there or reduce from that.
As mentioned in the first Growth and Transformation Plan, Ethiopia’s ambitious development plan, the Per capita income was meant to rise from $400 to $1200. This requires more than doubling the Per capita income without increasing CO2 emission.
In order to achieve this ambitious plan “if Ethiopia follows the business as usual development trajectory its annual emission would be 400 million tons of CO2” Mr. Mulugeta said. This means the government of Ethiopia is aiming a reduction of 250 million ton of CO2. According to the Director of Climate Change, no country has ever done it. Conversely, Ethiopia has become a leading example in implementing its Green Economy Strategy.
During the Workshop, Deputy Head of EU Delegation, Terhi Lehtinen said “Climate change and economic growth go hand in hand. In Europe we have faced that and currently, we are building our resilient capacity to reduce future risks. In this regard, Ethiopia is best example in encouraging climate smart investments, which is good both for the economy and environment.”
So, what does Ethiopia done so far that gained her all these praises?
After devising and getting to implement the Green Economy Strategy different promising results are coming up, according to the authorities. According to a spokesperson of MoFA, Mr. Meles Alem, who made the opening speech at the workshop, “Ethiopian government has diligently worked and invested on means of adapting and mitigating the crises and challenges of climate change.” The spokesperson also mentioned Ethiopia’s achievement in restoring significant amount of land through different afforestation and reforestation programs.
In addition to Mr. Meles, while discussing about the major achievements, Mr. Mulugeta also talked about the things that are done in improving the agricultural practices, increasing energy development from renewable sources for domestic and export markets, transferring of modern and energy saving equipment. In the agricultural sector, by mechanizing farmlands, developing small, medium, and large scale irrigations, introducing climate smart technologies, and improved seeds and breeds, reducing farmland expansion increase in productivity and reduction in emission have been observed, Mr. Mulugeta Said.
Ethiopia has recently introduced modern energy saving technologies in the cities including power efficient light bulbs and also the new light trains in the transportation sector. The newly expanded industrial zones are also solely dependent on electricity. This is why Mr. Mulugeta made the power sector another pillar of the Green Economy Strategy.
“We have a huge potential to green the industrial and transportation sector, and we are using our renewable energy potential to electrify the transport sector and provide clean and renewable energy for the other sectors.” Another aspect of the power sector that Mr. Mulugeta pointed out is, by exporting power to neighboring countries Ethiopia generates foreign currency and simultaneously assists neighboring countries reduce their emission.
Now, why Ethiopia has integrated the development policies with the Green Economy Strategy as a policy package is no more an absurd, but a model to endorse. Here is what the Deputy Head of EU Delegation, Terhi Lehtinen has to say about it, “Ethiopia’s GES is an inspiration to other developing countries and in that sense we are happy for cooperating with Ethiopia, and continue to work on climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.”