Ethiopia: Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy and the Pursuit for Environmental Equity: Opportunities, Constraints, and Prospects
Mulu Hadush (M.A in International Relations)
Climate change largely caused by human beings induced green house gases emission has resulted in tremendous socio-economic and environmental catastrophes in the developing world as they are economically week to adapt themselves to the repercussions. Climate change as a universal problem is caused by human factor particularly with the development of the capitalist economy in Western Europe and North America soon after the industrial revolution. However, the least economically developed states especially in sub-Saharan Africa have minimal share of emissions because of their lowest level of economic development.
Ethiopia as the second populous country in sub-Saharan Africa is much a victim of climate change and related calamities. Under these challenging circumstances, the country has recorded economic progress by taking sustainable development as the nucleus of its development policy path. The country has initiated a long term Climate Resilience Green Economy development strategy with political uncertainties in the international new treaty made after the expiry of the Kyoto first commitment period in 2012. This makes further complicated about a new climate change law especially with regard to terms of agreement on mitigation and adaptation, where the Ethiopian development strategy would be partially dependent on expected compensation payment from international climate finances, indicated as 50% in the GTP plan.
In parallel with the intergovernmental negotiation on new international climate change law, there has been a UN [under UNEP] sponsored global deliberation [from Rio1992-Rio+20] on how to institutionalize sustainable development and green economy against the conventional economic growth approach by states as an alternative strategy to mitigate and adapt climate change.
Ethiopia is among a few sub-Saharan African countries to formulate a development policy based on the Rio- Convention, agenda 21. It has designed a 25 year plan, Climate Resilience Green Economy to eradicate poverty and become a middle income country in 2022-2023. Specifically, the GTP plan 2010-2015 has indicated development of renewable energy sources and forestry among others. These clean energy sources are expected to relieve the fast rising energy demand of the expanding industrial economic sector and other GTP goals. Forestry and land rehabilitation activities currently underway have also the potential capacity to sequestrate and sink the CO2 emissions. Ethiopia as the lowest CO2 emitter has no treaty obligation to reduce emission gases. The CRGE is an opportunity to reduce 250 MT of CO2e in the coming 20 years. This amount of reduction will need compensation as distributional equity from various international climate finances.
However, it becomes too complex to effectively participate, influence, convince and gain equity based financial and technology support. This is because of the expiry of the First Kyoto commitment period and the conflict of interest on how to bargain a new treaty law between some developed and newly emerging economies based on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (2011)[a platform. In this platform, every country will fall under the same legal administration to enforce greenhouse gas reductions].
Despite a number of constraints emanating from state and non-state behaviors in the global climate change governance, Ethiopia as one of the ten fastest growing economies has the best chance to exploits such opportunities like the potential of the CRGE initiative to build a sustainable economy, the potential of cheap clean energy sources for many African energy markets and elsewhere, the potential of strengthening fair trade relations, the AU and NEPAD mission of African economic integration and other opportunities for its socio-economic goals. However, there is no still any treaty or law which equally obliges all members of the UNFCCC after the expiry of the first commitment period of the Kyoto agreement in 2012 though a majority of countries except USA led some developed economies agreed in Doha climate meeting (end of 2012) to extend the Kyoto protocol into a second commitment period (2013-2020).
The draft law for treaty making will be proposed in 2015 and become operational if agreed after 2020. Still there are uncertainties about the agenda-setting interest in between the USA supported by Canada, Japan, and Australia and the newly Emerging Economies (the BRICS) on quota emission reductions.
Because of these uncertainties, complex management system of the climate finance, severe economic and financial crisis in the western economy created doubt about obtaining the promised finance for adaptation purposes to the least developed economies including Ethiopia. So, the writer through a constructivist view in international relations has recommend that Ethiopia has to strengthen its economy based on the developmental paradigm of state involvement, support and encourage the private economic sectors free of rent seeking, domestic saving; good governance, promote active participation of newly homegrown non-state actors, individual expertise and the general public. The government through public diplomacy has to selectively strengthen diplomatic and economic relations with state and non-state actors, which support the CRGE and the GTP Plan to eradicate poverty in a sustainable economic way. The government has to work with pro-green development partners in Africa and elsewhere like the EU, Germany, South Korea and others. The government also need to further strong diplomatic relations for financial, technology and training support with the Newly Emerging Economies(The BRICS) free of any political and economic conditionality and yet used as ideological instruments by the old established financial and economic institutions of the neo-liberal international economic relations.