From Debt to Green: Zambia’s Journey Towards Carbon Neutralization
Zambia’s Venture into Carbon Neutralization
An ambitious move has been taken by Zambia, a Southern African country burdened by substantial debt, to venture into the realm of carbon neutralization. In a recent announcement, Zambia disclosed the signing of a contract with two Chinese firms. This deal aims to protect and restore the country’s forest cover over an area of 40,000 square kilometers, which is roughly 5% of Zambia’s total land area.
Earlier this year, Zambia entered into a similar agreement with a UAE-based company, Blue Carbon, for an area twice as large as the current project. This company has also made investments in Liberia and Tanzania. These initiatives, combining reforestation, deforestation prevention, and industrial plantation, are expected to generate millions of carbon credits. Each credit corresponds to a ton of CO2 either sequestered or not released into the atmosphere as a result of these actions.
Africa’s Growing Interest in Carbon Trade
Zambia’s recent initiatives are just a glimpse of the broader commitment African countries are making to secure a spot in the carbon trade market. The ambition isn’t new but has seen lackluster results so far. A report by the American NGO Forest Trends identified around 3,300 projects worldwide, with barely a hundred located in Africa. These projects are concentrated in a few countries, with Kenya leading the pack.
However, the end of 2022 saw the launch of an Initiative for Carbon Markets in Africa. This initiative has an ambitious goal to produce 300 million annual credits on voluntary offset markets by 2030 and 1.5 billion by 2050. This reflects the desire to make carbon credits one of Africa’s leading export products.
Support and Encouragement from Global Powers
Since its launch, the initiative has gained support from about twenty countries. It is funded in part by the United States Agency for International Development and powerful American foundations such as the Bezos Earth Fund, Rockefeller, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The need for carbon markets to achieve decarbonization goals was reiterated by John Kerry, the U.S. President’s special envoy for climate, at the first African climate summit held in Nairobi in early September.
The Urgency of Global Decarbonization Efforts
A report published by the United Nations on September 8 confirmed an alarming fact. The policies implemented since the 2015 Paris Agreement are largely insufficient to keep the global temperature rise below 2°C and, if possible, 1.5°C. The current trajectory of emissions is leading to a temperature increase between 2.6°C and 2.8°C. This data underscores the urgency of efforts like Zambia’s and the broader African initiative to mitigate climate change through carbon neutralization.
Zambia’s journey from being a heavily indebted country to becoming a leader in carbon neutralization is a testament to the power of global cooperation in addressing climate change. The country’s efforts, combined with the broader African initiative, highlight the crucial role of carbon trade in achieving global decarbonization goals. As more countries step up their efforts and invest in carbon neutralization, there is hope for a more sustainable and climate-resilient future.
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