THE signing of the Paris Agreement by President Edgar Lungu in New York during the 71st Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly is a positive move and assurance of Governmentâ€™s commitment to the fight against climate change.
The agreement is a landmark outcome, a culmination of four years of negotiations and consists of 29 articles. It reflects a hybrid approach, blending bottom-up flexibility to achieve broad participation with top-down rules to promote accountability.
The Paris agreement was adopted at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) held in Paris, France, on December 12, 2015.
This was following successful negotiations by 196 parties to the convention on climate change.
The Paris Agreement commits parties to implement ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects while promoting sustainable development.
The overall objective is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature below two degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees.
With President Lungu signing the agreement, Zambia has become the 181st country to sign the Paris Agreement. Of these countries, 27 have already ratified, accounting for 39.08 percent of global greenhouse gas emission against the required 55 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions for the agreement to enter into force on the 30th day.
What does the signing of the Paris Agreement mean?
The act by President Lungu means that Zambia has renewed its commitment and resolve to take action nationally that can put the country and the planet as a whole on a path to sustainable prosperity, health of people and the planet.
Following the adoption of the agreement, parties were requested to undertake significant measures at national level to be able to contribute to the attainment of the objective of the Paris Agreement.
Zambia in responding to the Paris Agreement has developed its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the agreement which outlines various mitigation and adaptation programmes and actions to be implemented.
Among some of the programmes that have been prepared for implementation include sustainable management of forestry, sustainable agricultural by undertaking conservation agriculture and enhancing the use of organic manure as a basis to improve agricultural production.
The last and most crucial programme is renewable energy efficiency through the promotion of renewable energy as alternative in terms of hydro power generation.
When it comes to adaptation measures, Government through the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection has put in place measures to address adaptation through long term measures which take the different ecosystems in place and ensure food security for the Zambians.
Building capacity of farmers is another critical venture that the ministry has lined up to be able to respond to the Paris agreement.
In addition, the recently adopted National Policy on climate change will provide a framework and ensure a coordinated approach in the implementation of climate change actions with a view to helping the country fulfil its obligation under the convention on climate change and the Paris Agreement.
President Lunguâ€™s action of signing the Paris Agreement should be commended bearing in mind that Zambia, by virtue of being among the poorest countries in the world will suffer most the adverse effect of climate change and immediate action is required to change the status quo.
It also means that President Lungu is willing to see to it that the Paris Agreement is ratified and Zambia is party to the agreement.
Despite the process to ratification being long, the first step is always important as the adage goes: â€œA journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.â€
By signing, Zambia stands to be assisted to increase its ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilient and transition into low greenhouse gas emissions development.
In the long term, President Lunguâ€™s action will ensure environmental integrity and foster socio-economic sustainability and help save the planet.
Well done Your Excellency.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail senior reporter