By Byron Mutingwende
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the Government of Zimbabwe and the Business Council for Sustainable Development of Zimbabwe (BCSDZ) are partnering in pursuit of a Green Industry Initiative to promote industrial energy efficiency and embrace renewable energy for productive use.
It has emerged that despite the existing knowledge on energy efficiency, companies continue to face challenges in up-scaling it. The Green Industry Initiative strives to green existing industries and create new green industries including but not limited to strengthening energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Speaking at a workshop held in Harare to share insights on the Country Green Energy Programme being developed, Alois Mhlanga, the UNIDO Industrial Development Officer at the UNIDO Headquarters in Vienna, Austria said climate change presents enormous challenges and opportunities for industrial development.
“Climate change presents enormous challenges and opportunities for industrial development. Climate change presents challenges in that it consumes 54% of global energy use; produces 29% of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, it has potential to reduce energy intensity and emissions, particularly in non-OECD countries. There is also potential to switch from fossil fuels to competitive renewable energy sources,” Mhlanga said.
The UN expert said UNIDO is advocating for low-carbon technology transfer; clean technology innovation; innovative financing instruments; knowledge management and capacity building; international and regional cooperation and multilateral environment-related agreements.
It is also encouraging stakeholders towards meeting the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), crafting the National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS), Climate Policy, Energy Policy amongst other national commitments of the country. The Green Industry approaches could steer industrial transformation and enable industry to become competitive.
A case study from the National Cleaner Production Centre in South Africa revealed that green energy similar programmes have benefits including higher resource efficiency, cost savings, improved competitiveness as well as creation of green jobs.
Mhlanga said that in just 50 years, the world’s population has more than doubled to over 7.4 billion people. This has led to a high demand for jobs hence the need to find ways of how to create the 50 million jobs needed by 2020. He bemoaned what he termed energy poverty whereby globall, 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity and 2.4 billion lack access to clean cooking or heating. He added that the use of solar energy reduces the cost of energy and encouraged industries to produce their own energy and become self reliant in so far as energy is concerned.
Shepherd Zvigadza, Zero Regional Environmental Organisation’s director said that at the moment, industry accounts for around one-third of the world’s energy use, more than any other end-use sector of the economy.
“Additionally, industrial energy demand is projected to increase by as much as 44 percent over the next twenty years, particularly in emerging and developing countries. This, of course, will translate to an unprecedented increase in the greenhouse gas emissions that are associated with climate change,” Zvigadza said.
To avoid taking that pathway, he said there was a need to cut annual global energy use by a quarter by 2020. The move would take a major shift towards energy efficiency and smarter resource use to ensure industry plays its part by becoming more efficient and productive.
The Governments play a vital role in driving industry to adopt energy-saving and low-carbon practices. Most countries with energy-intensive industry sectors now have some kind of energy efficiency policy in place while Zimbabwe does not have one in place at the moment.
Putting industry energy management systems in place equips companies with certifiable practices and procedures that help them continuously improve their energy efficiency. The benefit is that it helps companies reduce energy costs, increases operational efficiency and productivity, and improves risk management.
Companies were encouraged to disclose their carbon emission and measure their environmental risk, which they will provide to investors and other decision-makers with access to a critical source of global data that delivers the evidence and insight required to drive action.
Carbon pricing has increasingly become a valuable tool, as it helps companies identify and implement high-impact energy efficiency projects, and improves the paybacks. The implementation of energy efficiency measures is usually a labour-intensive activity at the local level, which cannot be easily relocated or outsourced.
“The investments will create demand for a range of skills as well as developing expertise for the implementation of new technologies. This demand for energy efficiency work requires increased output from the construction sector, which in turn can generate demand for intermediate work across the economy, thus boosting labour demand,” Zvigadza said.
He added that research elsewhere, has shown that, civil society organisations and consumers are often overlooked in the design, implementation, and monitoring of these programs. This lack of public participation and consumer input leads to a lack of consumer awareness and limited purchasing of energy-efficient appliances. However, CSO engagement can make energy efficiency more robust, recognisable, and popular amongst consumers.
The government was urged to create enabling policies for CSO participation by getting their voices involved in the process, eventually leading to greater consumer interest. Getting CSOs involved in the process can help bridge the gap between energy decision-makers and the consumers themselves, ultimately leading to greater awareness and greater uptake of energy efficient products, hence the need for their capacity to be built.
Tichaona Mushayandebvu, UNIDO Country Representative in Zimbabwe said there was need to work hard to improve the performance of local industry. He said that the UNIDO Country Program for Inclusive & Sustainable Development (2016 – 2020) targets to raise Zimbabwe’s industrial average capacity utilisation to 65% up from 47% by 2020. The same CP also targets to create 750,000 manufacturing jobs up from the 250,000 jobs in the sector by 2020. Mushayandebvu said the green industry initiative, among other five (5) initiatives of the CP for ISID, if adequately funded and implemented had the potential of contributing immensely towards meeting the above targets to include enhancing Zimbabwe’s export competitiveness.
Charles Msipa, the Managing Director of Schweppes Zimbabwe said there was need to replace the obsolete equipment in the industries and replace them with new and more efficient ones. He said the green industry initiative gives stakeholders the opportunity to use energy efficient methods that boost production.