The African continent, because of its low manufacturing and emission base, uses less energy as compared to developed countries which are both manufacturing and carbon emissions intensive. But it doesn’t mean because Africa produces less carbon emissions, then it is safe. The emissions produced in developed countries do not only harm the world, but also spread to Africa. Africa, therefore, is not spared, but is deeply in the emission-mix.
In developing countries, more carbon emissions are realised through manufacturing and the construction industries, while personal travel accounts for more carbon footprints. There is a lot of travelling in developed countries because they have efficient transport systems, energy and road networks. In developing countries, we like travelling, but the road infrastructure and transport systems are bad. People from developing countries always want to travel to developed countries to buy goods and services, on business or to conferences. Our leaders also like travelling a lot and should always carry carbon calculators in order to realise their carbon footprints. In this regard, there are more emissions in the skies than on the ground. The housing sector also consumes lots of energy and produces another significant chunk of carbon emissions through cooking, heating and lighting.
In developed countries, especially, they have what they call carbon off-setting schemes, designed to calculate related emissions, which normally translate into a fee which the off-setting organisation uses to soak-up a matching amount of carbon from the air. Whatever that means and however effective that might be, only God knows.
Money accrued from off-setting caborn schemes is normally used to fund reforestation and other adaptation practices in developing countries. This money may be given names such as green finance or green bonds, whatever they may deem necessary. But the reality is, once the greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere, whether we use carbon calculators, the emitted gases will never be removed.
There are also issues to do with eco-labelling products which normally assist consumers in buying green. This normally works more in developed countries where such education, awareness and literacy is realised than in developing countries where the food and product choices are limited. In Africa, although we import some of these labelled products, not many people care much or read into this because what matters most is the availability of the food product on the market, more than compliant issues.
The other issue is about growing environmentally friendly food-stuffs and the food that has been transported for short distances is deemed as the best quality food for consumers and the climate. That is why, in this regard, organic food is recommended more than inorganic food. Organic foodstuffs are of low carbon emissions as compared to inorganic foodstuffs because the costs and methods of producing them are not environmentally friendly.
Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org
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