Alick Ponje, In New York, Usa:
African Development Bank (AfDB) president, Akinwumi Adesina, on Monday announced that the bank is launching a clean energy programme to help reduce reliance on coal and heavy fuel for generating energy.
Adesina was speaking at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York during a press conference he addressed together with other officials including Malawi’s Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bintony Kutsaira.
He repeated the sentiments during a panel discussion in the UN General Assembly which formed part of thoughts on the Climate Action Summit.
“We will provide concessional financing and technical assistance to displace fossil fuel generation including coal and to end coal use on the continent…. Let us together save our planet and, as we do, we save ourselves and generations to come,” Adesina said.
He further announced that AfDB has established a disaster risk insurance facility to help African countries pay for insurance premiums and insure themselves against extreme weather events.
“The bank will be mobilising global partners to provide $250 million to help African countries including the most vulnerable ones and small island states to get an insurance pay-out of a total of $1 billion by 2030,” he said.
Taking his turn, Kutsaira stressed the importance of resilience and adaptation to climate change and stepping up ambitions and partnerships.
He also warned that failure to address climate change now will result in failure to achieve the sustainable development goals.
Despite that Malawi is pushing for a coal-fired power plant financed by China, Kutsaira still insisted that LDCs, including his own country, are committed to pursuing sustainable energy production.
He said: “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report on climate change has shown that climate change is real and requires urgent action. [The report] has also stated that the existence of life on earth is dependent on everyone acting to reduce global temperatures below 1.5° Celsius.”
Kutsaira also referred to cyclones Idai and Kenneth that hit parts of southern Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe as something that calls for urgent action on combating climate change.
The adverse weather events affected close to two million people in the three countries, killed hundreds and left close to a million displaced.
On his part, Bhutan Secretary of the National Environment Commission, Sonam Wangdi, whose country chairs the LDC group, described the existing climate commitments as not enough to prevent global warming from exceeding 1.5° Celsius.
Malawi’s insistence on the coal-fired power plant, which is expected to add some 300 megawatts to the national grid, is against recommendations that no power plant of that nature should be built beyond 2020.
Environmentalists are worried that emissions from the plant will destroy land and vegetation in its vicinity apart from directly contributing to climate change.
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