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Mitigating Climate Change: Eritrea’s Concrete Action as Part of Global Effort

“Eritrea fully appreciates the complexity, the scale and the consequences of climate change.
The strong linkage that climate change has with poverty, food security, underdevelopment, diseases and degradation of the environment is obvious to us,” Said Eritrea’s Minister of Land, Water and Environment, Mr. Tesfai Ghebreslasie, during a Conference on Climate Change held last Wednesday 18 November 2015 at Casa Degli Italiani in Asmara. This statement by Mr. Tesfai is highly indicative of Eritrea’s commitment to tackle dire consequences of climate change. It is based on this outlook that starting from the wake of independence, since 1994, that the country em¬barked on reforestation program. Drafting of national environmental protection policies have been part of the extended efforts being made to redress natural environment.

Ministers, government officials, Members of EU in Eritrea, diplomats and invited guests took part in the conference on climate change held with the collaboration of Eritrea’s Ministry of Land, Water and Environment and EU office in Eritrea. During the event, various papers were presented and deliberations were also made on how to tackle climate change.

It has repeatedly been reported about reforestation and generally soil and water conservation activities that have been implemented in different areas of Eritrea. What has been accomplished in the post independence period goes beyond what could be achieved within this range of time.

Pragmatic undertakings that Eritrea has so far accomplished in com¬bating global worming endures its agreement to stand against climate change. Redressing the natural environment has been an integral part of national development programs. If the Government of Eritrea has been committed to limit any environmental hazard with outmost efforts, there is no reason why this country could not be part of global effort to mitigate global warming.
The Ministry of Land, Water and Environment along with Agriculture Ministry as well as other partners have been working to make sure any environmental asset- including bio-diversity- is held intact as much as possible. Hence, there is no reason why national endeavors could not have an impact in easing a global challenge.
Without overlooking responsibilities that should be taken by all developing countries as regards climate change, Mr. Tesfai said that Eritrea share and strongly supports the position that mitigation of global warming and initiatives for substantial reduction of emissions are, first and foremost, the responsibility of the main polluters.

While highlighting about Eritrea’s determination in regards to climate change Mr. Tesfay said: “As an indication of our commitment to the international effort to mitigate global warming and climate change, Eritrea has submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) document to the Secretariat of UNFCCC”.

One could clearly understand how concerned Eritrea is about unprecedented environmental disarrays that could happen due to human activities. “Eritrea appreciates the harrowing consequences of business as usual and, therefore, it endorses the outlook that there is an urgent need for paradigm shift and concrete actions,” Mr. Tesfay said in an earnestness assurance of standing against the factors that negatively affect global climate.

“Eritrea has made extraordinary efforts to combat erosion, to facilitate reforestation, and to build dams in various parts of the country in order to retain water from the short period of rains, so that the water tables are maintained or restored. We com¬mend the Eritrean people for these efforts, which are not only relevant for their own country. Forests are important “carbon sinks”- natural repositories of carbon Dioxide – and restoring Eritrea’s forest cover therefore represents a contribution to the global effort,” is what Mr. Christian Manahl, EU Ambassador in Eritrea said in a speech he delivered at the conference.

There is a strong conviction that the usage of renewable energy could have positive impact in alleviating challenges of climate change. Eritrea is, hence, with a good potential of renewable energy sources like solar and wind as well as geothermal energy. If such resources are harnessed to high level, Eritrea would accelerate the efforts it has been making in environmental protection.

Concerning Eritrea’s commitment and its potentials of renewable energy, Ambassador Christian Manahl stressed that :

“Eritrea is embarking on major shift in its energy policy, away from hydrocarbon based electricity production to renewable sources of energy, and the European Union will be a key partner of Eritrea in this enterprise”.

He also indicated that National Indicative Program, that is the framework for Eritrea-EU cooperation for the upcoming year, has received a favorable opinion from EU Member states earlier this week, and more than 80% of the funds from his program – amounting for €175 million – will be allocated to renewable energy and energy efficiency. Provided that this program is properly and speedily implemented, Eritrea can become a model country for renewable energy, which is thereby expected to play a role diminishing burned of foreign exchange balances through reduction of fuel import.

Mr. Stephane Gruenberg, Ambassador of France to Eritrea also gave an update on the preparation of the Paris summit on climate change (COP21). He said many discussions, meetings, conferences held on climate change have confirmed that all countries are willing to come into a universal agreement in December 2015.

Papers presented by Mr. Michael Berhane, Prof. Abrham Kidane, and Mr. Kidane Asmerom from the Ministries of Agriculture, National Development, as well as the Ministry of Land, Water and Environment highlighted about Eritrea’s policies and strategies on climate change as well as efforts being exerted in the country as part of the overall national development programs. A paper on the Development of Cooperation Programs and their Relation on Climate change was also presented by the EU delegation.

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