Climate Change Mitigation

Climate change mitigation generally involves measures taken to reduce human (anthropogenic) emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), reduce rate of climate change in order to avoid the unmanageable impacts of climate change. Examples of mitigation include switching to low-carbon energy sources, such as renewable and nuclear energy, and expanding forests and other "sinks" to remove greater amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Energy efficiency can also play a major role, for example, through improving the insulation of buildings. Another approach to climate change mitigation is geo-engineering. The major concern is to stabilize GHG concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent (unmanageable impacts) and reduce (manageable impacts) the negative impacts of climate change. It is noteworthy that some climate change impacts can be beneficial but overall, the negative impacts will outweigh the positive impacts.

The Paris Agreement concluded in December 2015 encourages Member States to reduce global peaking of GHG emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing countries, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science and technology. This will enable the region to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of GHG in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Mitigation is essential to meet the objectives of stabilizing GHG concentration in the atmosphere. There are technical and economic potentials to mitigate GHG emissions, which could offset the projected growth of global emissions. However, reducing GHG emissions is not an easy task, since the sources of emission and carbon sinks are directly tied to key economic sectors and, therefore, may affect economic growth.

In this regard, the mitigation analysis is done with the aim of identifying GHG mitigation options that can both serve national development priorities and contribute to the global mitigation efforts to achieve the overall objectives of the UNFCCC. There is a great opportunity for the integration of climate change mitigation into the development activities. This process of integration requires a carefully planned strategy demonstrating strong technical knowledge of the impacts of climate change and its mitigation, and involving a broad range of stakeholders. Emerging markets to mitigate global emissions of GHGs and relevant regulations can provide attractive opportunities for development projects and sustainable land and resource management.

The IGAD region is on the path to rapid economic development. The region has to choose between business as usual and green and clean development. The second choice is the best case scenario. However, its realization depends on both internal and external circumstances and the availability of finance, know-how and technology. Because of the magnitude of the ambition and its close links to development co-benefits, it makes sense to integrate climate considerations into development planning.

The mitigation assessment carried out in the IGAD countries takes into account the emission levels and trends. Several options have being employed to reduce GHG emissions and enhance the capacity of carbon sinks.These measures are usually included into the range of policies and various economy-wide packages of policy instruments of member states that have great potentials in reducing GHG emissions in different sectors, mainly by creating incentives for mitigation action. Therefore, the success or failure of those measures could be used as benchmarks at national and regional levels to build synergies and best practices on the way forward.

Given the main sources of GHG and the potential of the region as carbon sink, mitigation measures prioritize: afforestation, reforestation, promotion of energy efficiency, efficient crop and livestock production systems and efficient transport system, waste management while capturing opportunities in emission reductions in the region provided under Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. They should also include nature conservation and other ecosystem-based approaches to strengthen nature infrastructures.

Articles 4.1 and 12.1, of the UNFCCC commits Parties to develop national and, where appropriate, regional programmes and measures that will result in the mitigation of anthropogenic climate change. Following the INDC contents, the mitigation measures proposed to date by IGAD countries cover the following sectors:

Table 1. Mitigation measures proposed by countries

COUNTRY Energy Industry Transport Forestry Agriculture Waste Sector Buildings/ Construction
Djibouti X   X X     X
Eritrea X X X X X X  
Ethiopia X X X X X X X
Kenya X X X X X X  
Somalia X     X      
S. Sudan X   X X      
Sudan X     X   X  
Uganda X     X   X  

Source: Compiled from respective country INDC

Since the IGAD countries have negligible contribution to historical GHG emissions, it is important for the region to contribute to the reduction of future GHG emissions by focusing on clean energy, and low-carbon development. For this reason, IGAD should coordinate and follow-up the implementation of NAMAs, NAPAs, INDCs or other sectoral initiatives that have potential for high emission reduction. As already noted elsewhere, some of the sectors identified in the INDCs as major emitters include energy, transports, agriculture, waste management and industry. These will be the targets for the IRCCS as well.

Countries are at different stages of developing policies and programs to tackle the challenges of climate change. For example more than 60% the Member States have registered NAMAs, with the UNFCCC as part of their efforts to respond to the challenges of climate change. Other Countries have also either developed or intend to develop and submit their NAMAs to the UNFCCC.

Table 2. Registered NAMAs

  • NR-172 - Ethiopia's National Railway Network and Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit (LRT)
  • NS-167 - Ethiopia Railway's Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit (LRT) Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
  • NS-168 - Ethiopia Railways: Establishment of Climate Vulnerability Infrastructure Investment Framework
  • NS-173 - Ethiopian Railways –Railway Academy
  • NS-83 - NAMA for accelerated geothermal electricity development in Kenya
  • NS-121 - Development of a feed-in tariff NAMA for renewable energy
  • NS-150 - Reduction, recycling and reuse of solid waste in Kampala City
  • NS-151 - The promotion of the use of efficient institutional stoves in institutions
  • NS-152 - Promoting cultivation of high-yielding upland rice in Uganda
  • NS-153 - Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) for Kampala
  • NS-154 - Developing appropriate strategies and techniques to reduce methane emissions from livestock production in Uganda
  • NS-155 - Fuel Efficiency in Motor Vehicles
  • NS-156 - Integrated wastewater treatment for agro-processing, Water in Uganda
  • NS-158 – Periodic vehicle inspection for emissions and road worthiness
  • NS-213 - National fuel efficiency initiative

Source: Compiled from UNFCCC website

Negative emissions can be registered by promoting carbon capture and storage, enhancing afforestation efforts, reduction of energy demand, adopting accounting rules, etc. In this regard, some IGAD countries participate in REDD+ programme looking for initiatives aiming to achieve this goal. For example, this is one of the most important climate change mitigation measures being followed by Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. Sudan and South Sudan are also involved in mobilizing resources to this effect. Those countries are devoting resources and time to meet the complex demands of the REDD+ programme.

Therefore, IGAD Region has responded positively to various international mechanisms on enhanced mitigation actions, including low carbon development, NAMAs, the REDD+, etc. with the aim to facilitate mitigating climate change especially in sectors that contribute significantly to national GHG emissions and removal.

The Paris Agreement recognizes the importance of forests as carbon stocks in developing countries (Art. 5), on the basis of equity and sustainable development. It also recognizes the importance of adequate and predictable financial resources, for results-based payments, the implementation of policy approaches and positive incentives to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Similarly, the Agreement emphasises the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks; as well as alternative policy approaches, such as joint mitigation and adaptation approaches for the integral and sustainable management of forests; while reaffirming the importance of non-carbon benefits associated with such approaches; encouraging the coordination of support from, inter alia, public and private, bilateral and multilateral sources, such as the Green Climate Fund, and alternative sources.

Under the general commitments of the UNFCCC based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) -together with specific national and regional development priorities, objectives and circumstances- all non-Annex 1 Parties, including the IGAD region, may provide information on programs containing measures to mitigate climate change, and are encouraged to undertake a development path that limits growth of GHG emissions.

The consideration of “mitigation” is related to measures aiming at the optimization of the rate of GHG emission vs.GDP, instead of the classical approach of reducing emissions. Due to national priorities, such as poverty alleviation, expanding basic social services, as well as constrained financing and technological limitations, the approach to specific greenhouse gas mitigation measures could be engulfed within the country sustainable development priorities.

The Paris Conference emphasises the importance of technology and the need to strengthen cooperative action on technology development and transfer. The Technology Mechanism established under the Convention can help IGAD countries to facilitate their efforts in reducing GHG emissions all along their developing process (Art 10 of the Paris Agreement). Long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies are supposed to be formulated by every country, in the framework of the Paris Agreement, taking into account the differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Therefore, the IGAD region should continue to support its member states in enhancing their mitigation efforts, and move over time towards economy-wide emission reduction or limitation targets in the light of different national circumstances.