With Namibia’s economic development in mind, this article aims to give diverse views on the country’s energy mix and NDC initiatives.
In short, Namibia is in a position to benefit economically because of its negligible greenhouse emissions.
According to the UN, NDCs – nationally determined contributions on climate change – embody the efforts of each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impact of climate change.
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that trap heat, such as carbon dioxide (CO2, 79%), methane (16%), nitrous oxides (6%), and fluorinated gases (3%).
The United Nations (UN) defines ‘NetZero’ as a concept to cut GHG emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere by oceans, forests, etc.
To keep global warming to no more than 1,5°C warmer than in the late 1800s (preindustrial level), as called for in the Paris Agreement, emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and to reach NetZero by 2050.
The Glasgow Climate Pact called on all countries to strengthen the 2030 targets in their NDCs, thus Namibia committed to reduce its GHG emissions by at least 91% (of which 77% is unconditional) of its business as usual scenario by 2030.
Namibia’s share of global GHG emissions is currently only 0.04% and is classified as a net carbon sink country (it absorbs more GHGs than it emits).
NetZero carbon emissions can be achieved through a combination of emission reduction and emission removals – a process known as decarbonation.
Namibia has set plans to increase our share of renewable energy in the energy mix.
‘Energy mix’ refers to the combination of nonrenewable (e.g. oil, natural gas and coal) and renewable (e.g. bioenergies, hydro, wind, solar) used to meet energy needs in each geographic region.
Our government estimates that approximately US$5,33 billion (about N$99,6 billion at the current exchange rate) will be mobilised, mostly through multilateral financing mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund and Global Environment Facility, to enable the implementation of NDCs.
Planting more trees for a process called carbon sequestration by photosynthesis and storage in plants seems a favourable mitigation, among others.
Institutions like Unam are responding by integrating solar energy in their energy mix.
Novel research such as that conducted by the Kelp Foundation and Unam on carbon stock stored in kelp buried by sea sediments is worth championing towards our NetZero strategy.
Direct air capture (DAC), a technology that removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, has been described in scientific literature.
High-powered DAC fans are used to draw air into a processing facility where the CO2 is separated through a series of chemical reactions.
Geologic sequestration is then often used – where CO2 is injected in deep and favourable rock units for long-term storage.
Therefore, research funding is needed to characterise the geological ability of our sedimentary basins and to build human capacity in the fields of geology, seismology, fluid characterisation, well engineering and reservoir modelling for CO2 storage purposes.
Given Namibia’s negligible contribution to global GHG emissions, we believe that devoting limited resources to GHG reduction should be within an economic context.
Public debt has risen to an historic high (around 70% of GDP), and we must be economically intentional in our NDC approaches beyond short-term employment, healthier air and cleaner water.
We need to increase government revenue and improve our borrowing ability.
We can readily attract foreign direct funds through selling carbon credits because of our insignificant CO2 global emissions and carbon sink rating.
Carbon credits, also known as carbon offsets, are permits that allow the owner to emit a certain amount of CO2 or other GHG.
Carbon offsets help private companies reach their target of NetZero without having to limit their own emissions.
Through the carbon credit system, they pay other countries or communities who have avoided carbon emissions such as Namibia.
Research and innovation can still be used to strengthen the climate obligations in our NDCs.
In terms of the Paris Agreement, Namibia doesn’t produce nearly enough global emissions to preclude plausible economic expansion.
Instead of just aggressively complying with a treaty when our global emissions are negligible, the government should formulate a strong carbon market policy framework, carbon market process flows, and capacity-building initiatives for both public and private actors.
This will allow the country to benefit from our NDC strategies.