2020 was a year that tested the strength and the resilience of communities across the globe. It was a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the phenomenon of COVID-19, for Australians, 2020 started with the most devastating bushfires in the history of the country.
Nations near and far offered assistance for Australia. Over 300 foreign fire fighters stood side-by-side with us as we battled the blazes. People around the world raised funds to assist with our rebuilding, recovery and future resilience.The generosity of friends in our hour of need was humbling.And it will never be forgotten.
Increased effort will be required to adapt and build resilience to the climate change in 2021 and beyond. Australia has already committed over $15 billion to make our natural resources, environment and water infrastructure more resilient to drought and climate disasters.
Furthermore, Australia is also spending more than $2 billion on bushfire recovery efforts, supporting local communities to design their own economic, social and environmental recovery.
And this year, a new National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy will set out Australia’s future adaptation vision. Australia is also committed to supporting the global community to tackle climate change.
Australia has pledged at least $1.5 billion over the period 2020 to 2025 for global climate finance. We are joining the Call for Action on Raising Ambition for Climate Adaptation and Resilience, to encourage greater ambition, finance and coordination to protect against growing climate risks.
And Australia has joined the Coalition for Climate Resilience Investment, to shift private investment towards climate resilient infrastructure and support vulnerable communities to attract private sector investment.
Ethiopia’s potential to harness renewable energy is immense. And like Australia, Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy strategy reinforces Ethiopia’s commitment to build a climate resilient economy. In this regard, Prime Minister Abiy’s vast tree-planting campaign is a sign of the Government’s ambition and commitment.
While Australia is a long way from Ethiopia, Australian government agencies and Australian companies are working with their Ethiopian counterparts to fuel Ethiopia’s green economy ambitions. For example, Australian company Fortescue, a global leader in resources, has signed a multi-billion dollar deal with the Government of Ethiopia to further develop Ethiopia’s hydropower resources. The projects being considered support Ethiopia’s ambitions to become a renewable energy superpower.
Another Australian company, Lotus Energy, is developing the world’s largest renewable energy micro-grid in Ethiopia. When complete, the micro-grid will help communities, create jobs, and provide cheap zero-emissions power to manufacturing and industrial enterprises.
The Australian Centre of Agricultural Research, one of Australia’s premier agricultural research institutes, is also engaged in helping farmers in Ethiopia and 12 other African countries to improve farming systems, increase agricultural productivity and increase climate resilience.
Of course, adaptation action must go hand in hand with reducing emissions, Australia is on track to meet and beat its 2030 Paris target, having reduced emissions by almost 17 per cent since 2005. Australians are also building and investing in renewables at world-leading rates.
On a per person basis, Australia is building new wind and solar at ten times the global average–four times faster than in Europe. Hence, we expect renewables will contribute at least 50 percent of Australia’s electricity by 2030.
To keep this momentum going, Australia has developed a Technology Investment Roadmap a comprehensive plan to invest in the technologies we need to bring emissions down, in Australia and around the world.
We’re focussed on accelerating technologies like hydrogen, carbon captures use and storage, soil carbon, energy storage to backup renewables and decarbonise transport, and low or zero emissions steel and aluminium.
Widespread global deployment of those technologies will reduce or eliminate emissions in sectors responsible for 90 per cent of the world’s emissions – 45 billion tonnes. Australia’s goal is to get the cost of deploying these new technologies to parity with existing, higher-emitting alternatives.
This is a practical pathway to achieve net zero emissions that also presents economic opportunity. It’s an approach that will bring the world to stand with us.
Whether in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, or tackling the ongoing challenge posed by climate change, we need to embrace innovation and strengthen global partnerships. We need to consider those most in need, engage all stakeholders equally and respect traditional knowledge.
Practical actions that help us adapt to those changes and strengthen the resilience of our local environments are critical.
Together, we will make a difference.
Ed.’s Note: Siddhartha Chakrabart, is a Chargé d’affaires of Australian Embassy in Addis Ababa. The views expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter.
Contributed by Siddhartha Chakrabart