By: King A. Wellington
Globally, governments must be committed to ensuring that countries are adapting to the effects of climate change. Governments may take action either to achieve a more efficient outcome than would otherwise occur, or on distributional grounds, as is the standard approach to policy making. This also means that in designing and implementing policies, programmes and investments, governments must consider the impacts of climate change.
It is a general school of thought that for climate change, mitigation measures and adaptation to the changes are the two main approaches that will prevent climate change from happening. This notwithstanding, there are certain key regulatory decisions when taken will help lower the vulnerability of climate change impact.
Firstly, there is the need to increase the use of zero or low carbon energy sources (clean energy). Following Denmark’s footsteps to target 2050 as a benchmark year to fully adopt low carbon energy sources is a good start for most countries especially developed nations. This is because clean energy technologies are recognized as sure contributors to climate change mitigation. Clean energy technologies include renewable energy (wind power, solar power, biomass, hydropower, biofuels, geothermal, ocean energy, etc.), energy efficiency, electric vehicles, the use of carbon sinks (carbon capture and storage, and reforestation) and nuclear power.
Secondly, afforestation must be prioritized while deforestation must be curtailed or managed using the principles of sustainable forest management. Planting of trees must be encouraged on a broader scale and environmental laws must be enforced. Governments and non-governmental organizations must directly engage in afforestation programs to expand the global forests base.
Thirdly, laws that promote Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) must be enacted. CCS is the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide (CO2) usually from large point sources, such as factories, transporting it to a storage site, and depositing it so it does not escape into the atmosphere. The aim is to prevent the release of large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere from heavy industry. It is a potential way of mitigating carbon dioxide emissions from industry. Carbon dioxide can be captured directly from the air or from an industrial source (such as power plant flue gas) using a variety of technologies, including absorption, adsorption, chemical looping, membrane gas separation or gas hydrate technologies.
Furthermore, the transportation sector must be retooled. There must be regulations to reduce CO2 in the transportation sector. Technical changes must be made and laws enacted to ensure behavioural changes and improvements. This is because it has been reported that the transport sector accounts for 23% of global energy related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Clean transport technologies such as electric vehicles (EVs), battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and fuel cell electric such as hydrogen vehicles and biofuel vehicles should be encouraged, adopted and used.
Additionally, standards and regulations must be developed and implemented across all sectors of the economy. Electricity must be produced from low carbon sources and there must be increased contribution of bio fuels and hydrogen fuel cells obtained from low carbon sources in every aspect of the economy.
Also, financial incentives help to lower the vulnerability of climate change impact. This is because financial incentives triggers change of behaviour and equip companies with the needed capital to implement clean energy technologies in their operations. For instance flexible loan schemes can be made available for people and businesses to access to cushion their transition to clean energy.
Furthermore, a long-term cooperative arrangement between the public and private sectors that implements climate change mitigation measures throughout its lifespan should be encouraged. Typically, a public private partnership provides better infrastructure solutions, ensures faster project completion and reduces delays in infrastructure projects. It also ensure greater return on investment through innovative design and financing approaches, safeguards a project from potential risks, increases efficiency and ensures high-quality standards for projects.
Next, charges and subsidies are also ways to lower the vulnerability of climate change impact. For instance, charging a penalty for importing over aged cars with higher CO2 emission and banning the importation of low efficient fridges and air conditions will help a country to lower its vulnerability of climate change impact.
Finally, citizens also play a critical role in lowering the vulnerability of climate change impact in a country. A regulatory decision to ensure that people change their lifestyles such as diet habits, reducing food waste, and modifying consumption patterns, transportation, choosing longer lasting products and being energy efficient will help to lower a country’s carbon footprint.