Renewable energy sources, way to go for Zim: CNRG
By STAFF REPORTER
MUTARE- Zimbabwe should commit itself to producing renewable energy sources that satisfy the country`s climate change policy as well as economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the citizens, a local environmental watchdog said.
Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) research officer Obrien Nhachi said although increasing energy supply was key, relying on fossil fuels like coal was tantamount to solving a problem by creating another.
“Any commitment to increase energy supply should be done in a manner which should satisfy the country’s climate change policy as well as the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the citizen” he added.
The communities where coal is mined, CNRG said, where already experiencing underdevelopment whilst those far away are experiencing extreme weather conditions whose manifestation is increasing vulnerability of the poor and thereby draining more from the fiscus as government attends to the climate change-related disasters.
“Whilst most nations are putting in place measures to phase out the use of fossil fuels and focus on renewable, Zimbabwe is taking the opposite direction by increasing coal mining and fossil energy production.
“Essentially government policies and ratification of the Paris Agreement and creation of department of Climate Change means there is enough awareness and technical competence in government to reduce carbon emissions and take practical steps towards adaptation and mitigation,” said the watchdog.
CNRG said the country`s constitution provides for environmental protection in Section 73 and the country also has some policies and strategies that are aimed at dealing with the negative impacts of climate change and improve environmental protection.
“These include the National Climate Change Response Strategy; The Renewable Energy Policy and the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” said the civic group.
CNRG said the government’s intentions were flagged by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in August, when he expressed his support for the companies extracting coal in Hwange.
“According to the President, Government support for the coal sector is in line with the vision of attaining a US$12 billion mining economy by 2023 as well as achievement of a middle-income economy by 2030.
“Government has also given backing to Zimbabwe’s Rio Energy Ltd’s plans to construct a US$3 Billion thermal power plant in Sengwa, Gokwe District, with financial support from China Gezhouba Group Corporation.
“In October 2019, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, noted that Zimbabwe traditionally produced about 3 million tonnes of coal per annum and the produce was expected to leap to 15million tons per annum by mid-2020.
“In his 2020 national budget statement, Finance Minister, Prof Mthuli Ncube reiterated that there is Government commitment to fully capacitate the Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) to increase output from its underground mine by rehabilitation and expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station through ZWL$8.4 billion government assistance. The assistance will include establishing small thermal power stations as well, “said CNRG.
Government’s vision of attaining a $12 billion mining industry by year 2023 is hinged on exploiting over 40 minerals around the country which include an estimated 25billion tons of coal reserves.
The government has also set a projection of rebooting the ailing economy and increasing energy supply for domestic consumption and exports.