Climate change adaptation or mitigation? Solar energy does both | New times

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Coming to its final days in Glasgow, COP26 will soon come to its inevitable end. The world’s most acclaimed climate event has brought some exciting but unsatisfying deals and agreements aimed at addressing the growing climate crisis.

Methane emissions were at the center of the Global Methane Pledge, a joint agreement to reduce global methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels in all industries by 2030. This meaningful commitment could reduce global warming by 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2050. According to a UN report, this is the most robust and accessible step that can be taken to slow climate change over the next 25 years. Another crucial initiative targets coal, the main contributor to climate change. More than 40 countries and dozens of organizations have pledged to end all investment in new coal-fired power generation nationally and internationally.

They also agreed to phase out coal-fired electricity in the 2030s for major economies and in the 2040s for developing countries.

These commitments, among other initiatives taken at the world summit, are indeed, but they only target one aspect of the fight against climate change – risk mitigation. Another aspect has become a prominent topic in recent months, and both are essential for achieving lasting impact.

Mitigation or adaptation?

When we discuss global promises and initiatives, we can divide all actions into two main sections.

The first is mitigation, which aims to mitigate the effects of climate change by preventing or reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere. Mitigation is achieved by reducing the sources of these gases (choosing renewable coal-based energies, for example) or by improving the storage of these gases (through innovative technologies or tree planting, for example)

The second is adaptation, focusing on anticipating the effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimize damage. Examples include adapted infrastructure changes, such as buildings that can withstand sea level rise, as well as changes in behavior, such as people composting their food waste.

In summary, mitigation addresses the causes and minimizes the possible impacts of climate change. At the same time, Adaptation seeks to reduce the negative effects and take advantage of any opportunities that arise.

At COP26, world leaders are mainly focusing on mitigation initiatives, with methane and coal commitments falling into this category. But the discussion of adaptation is becoming more and more mainstream, though often seen as an admission of failure – if you’re looking for adaptive action, it means your previous engagements have failed and you haven’t done enough to support it. address this crucial topic. Political entities and business leaders are not very inclined to take this type of action.

Political and commercial interests aside, adaptation action could not be more crucial at this point, as most scientists say our planet is well beyond breaking point and a rise of 1 , 5 and even 2 degrees Celsius is definitely in the books. For real climate action, mitigation and adaptation must coexist and should be placed high on the global agenda.

Solar energy does both

Solar energy is an important solution that is already changing millions of lives in every possible way. To understand the vast opportunities in this renewable asset, we take a look at Africa, which is currently setting a global example of solar energy use.

For mitigation, solar energy is gradually replacing the currency of the fuels used by these communities for lighting, cooking and heating. Each solar home system used is known to have the ability to meet the electricity needs of an entire home with around 80% lower carbon emissions than fossil fuels. Overall, the mitigation aspect is crystal clear and does not need to be explained further, as renewables exemplify that.

The adaptation aspect is where it gets interesting. Solar energy is already helping entire African communities prepare for the vast effects of climate change by providing access to electricity for the first time with solar home systems (SHS). Access to electricity is known and recognized as a key catalyst for financial inclusiveness. With electricity in the home, children can study after dark, get a better education, and have more opportunities for future employment. Women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa, who currently spend more than 8 hours a day procuring firewood for lighting and heating, can study and open new businesses. Farmers can spend more time sorting their crops, lose fewer yields, earn more money and increase food security. Families also spend less money on their SHS than they do today on the fuels that heat and light their homes. And the open fires used today for cooking and heating – which cause 4 million deaths a year globally, contribute to respiratory disease and pose a fire risk, are being replaced by sustainable solar options.

All of these examples and many more lift families out of the circle of poverty, providing them with higher incomes, helping them to depend on more than agriculture and enabling them to thrive in the face of floods, droughts and rising water levels. ever more numerous sea.

Solar power is the best and most efficient solution for national leaders, business tycoons and global investors looking to make their mark on the climate agenda.

The time to act is now

The author is an entrepreneur and investor, leading sustainability-driven businesses in Africa and the Middle East

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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