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COP 26 – Lessons for Zambia

AT the recently ended COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, delegates set ambitious but achievable goals if only we are unified and focused on the “net-zero” target by 2050.
Zambia is not an island metaphorically speaking.


Zambia was represented at the summit at the highest level with President Hakainde Hichilema being in attendance together with his delegation that included the Minster of the recently created Ministry of Green Economy and Environment.


The COP26 summit is a platform were Zambia showed its commitment to reducing the effects of climate change.

COP which stands for “Conference of the Parties” is indeed an annual summit of the United Nations climate change conference at which member states gather to make crucial decisions regards what needs to be done regarding the existential issue of climate crisis. The conference is in its 26th year hence COP26.

At this year’s conference, world leaders promised to end deforestation by 2030 and deforestation as one of the factors contributing to climate change is my focus of attention in this article.
The leaders at the summit undertook to sign the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forest and Land Use. Most countries are way off track when it comes to meeting targets set out in the Paris agreement.

We need as country to put in place urgent measures to reach the overall goals and conserve our forests. The rate of deforestation being witnessed in Zambia is worrying.
This is accelerated mostly by the indiscriminate cutting of trees for charcoal production and expansion of farming in general including timber extraction, and mining including uncontrolled bush fires have greatly contributed to the rapid degradation of the ecosystem.


The British High Commissioner to Zambia, Mr Nicholas Woolley once expressed his worry at the rate at which deforestation is taking place in Zambia and cited some of the effects of climate change being felt right now such as extreme drought in the Western and Southern regions of the country.


Crop failure due to prolonged drought leads to food insecurity and we have also seen floods in the northern parts of the country.
In 2019, the world famous Victoria Falls was reduced to a trickle. The Mosi oa Tunya (the smoke that thunders) which is listed among the natural wonders of the world was indeed a sorry sight that made many around the world sit up and take note of the effects of climate change.

United Nations Secretary-General. Antonio Guterres, did not mince his words when he told delegates at the summit in no uncertain terms that “Enough of brutalising biodiversity, enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet. Enough of burning, drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves.”
This is a timely warning and should be taken seriously by all citizens of the world.

Zambia has indeed made its own commitment by pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent based on pre-2010 levels by 2030.
President Hichilema said in delivering his speech that Zambia was one of the least developed countries where negative impacts of climate change brings an additional layer of challenges to the already existing multiple layers of challenges.
We need to urgently embark on a serious programme of re-forestation by planting trees and conserving the existing forests. We need to inculcate this in our children at a very early age in their learning process that cutting of tress indiscriminately is hurting our planet now and in future.


A social enterprise that supports wildlife conservation and sustainable agriculture called COMACO which stands for Community Markets for Conversation has set itself a target of planting 20 million trees in Muchinga Province this year. This will cover 22, 000 hectares.


Let us replicate this albeit in a small way by planting trees at household level, schools and institutions of learning.
The former United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon once said “We are the first generation to be able to end poverty, and the last generation that can take steps to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Future generations will judge us harshly if we fail to uphold our moral and historical responsibilities.”


Too true!

Have a green day!

*Eng. Julius Kazembe-Lungu is Technical Director, JKL-Associates.

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