By Charity Hara
“The Paris goal of 1.5 °C is not impossible — ,” Richard Millar, a climate researcher at the University of Oxford, UK.
Climate change affects countries across the globe and Malawi is not spared.
Already, temperature increases and changing precipitation patterns are harming people. To make matters worse, this problem is expected to worsen in the coming decades, when temperatures will reach the heat threshold . This is why there should be a concerted effort among all players in Malawi in order to contribute to limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.
Coal-fired power plants and diesel powered generator are a source of greenhouse-gas emissions and it is disappointing to see Malawi embracing the two enemies of the ozone layer.
A team of climate scientists has delivered a rare bit of good news: it could be easier than previously thought to limit global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, as called for in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. But even if the team is right — and some researchers are already questioning the conclusions — heroic efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions will still be necessary to limit warming.
The Paris climate agreement has two aims: “holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2℃ above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5℃”.
As for Malawi, we have, all the time, been depending on hydro electric power generated on the biggest river, shire. Due to limited ground cover,due to careless cutting of trees, there has been more soil erosion, that led to accumulation of silt in the river, thereby affecting the level of water in the Shire river. Efforts have been there to start coal-fired plants with the aim of increasing power supply. Recently Malawi government has bought diesel-powered generators which have already been put under use. Despite several efforts to condemn the government that bringing diesel generators will either be not economical and pollute the air with greenhouse gasses, the government moved on to bring in these generators to contribute to the increase in global warming, instead of utilizing environmental friendly methods that help to keep global warming down. This is unfortunate.
Look at these calculations: The main Electricity supply company, Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (ESCOM) will need about US$783,000 a month to run 3 diesel-powered generators. This cost is exorbitant, and the generators are not sustainable and environmentally friendly. It is reported that 500 litres of diesel is needed to run one generator per hour. This means that 3 generators will need 1500 litres an hour. The plan is to run the generators for 16 hours daily. This means 2400 litres of diesel a day. Studies have show that 1 litre of diesel produces 2.6Kg of carbon dioxide with complete combustion. This means that 24,000 litres will produce, 62,400Kg of carbon dioxide a day. This is not different from unsustainable charcoal production consuming forests across the country. Almost 13,867Kg charcoal-an equivalent to 395 standard bags of charcoal weighing 35Kg each churn out 62,400 Kg carbon dioxide and wipe out 0.97 hectares of forest cover.
Carbon dioxide is one of the green house gasses which cause global warming and climate change. Although Malawi is not a net emitter of greenhouse gasses, both charcoal and use of diesel powered generators result in environmental degradation, especially air pollution, and this will eventually contribute to not achieving the 2015 Paris climate agreement of reducing global warming.
To address these challenges, Government of Malawi should partner with a wide variety of Malawian institutions to advance Malawi’s low-emissions, climate-resilient development and develop a strategy for combating deforestation and for improving forest governance.
In order to contribute in achieving the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the Government of Malawi should develop policies capable of hitting these targets. As a country, we need to know the size of the “carbon budget” – the total amount of greenhouse emissions consistent with a particular temperature target. Armed with this knowledge, governments can set policies designed to reduce emissions by the corresponding amount. What we NEED to know is that a 1.5℃ target remains physically possible.
For the world to achieve its most ambitious climate aspiration, countries, including Malawi, need to set stronger climate pledges for 2030, and then keep making deep emissions cut for decades. No one is saying it will be easy. But it can be done.
Government and agencies should partner and support local engineers who have developed mini hydro plants to reduce the power deficiency. Government may also consider removing tax and subsidizing all solar-powered equipment to reduce demand on electricity from unsustainable solutions and stop using diesel powered generators to produce electricity.