National budget downplays climate emergency

…as Mthuli provides paltry $3.7 billion as climate finance  

Upenyu Chaota

Despite growing calls for governments to invest in a green future, government seems to be paying little attention to the need for climate mitigation and adaptation.

If the 2022 National Budget delivered by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Mthuli Ncube on November 25 last year is anything to go by, climate financing plays second fiddle to many other priorities.

Ncube allocated ZWL$3.7 billion (which amounts to just over US$20 million on the parallel market) to the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.

He said the money should, among many other things, be used to cater for implementation of climate change mitigation measures.

The biggest budget allocations went to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Development (ZWL$124 billion), Ministry of Health and Child Care (ZWL$117.7 billion), Infrastructure development (ZWL$156.4 billion), Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage (ZWL$49.4 billion) and Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Welfare (ZWL$61.5 billion).

Action24 country programmes coordinator Archieford Chemhere told EnviroPress that the budget failed to give priority to climate funding and called on the government to stop paying ceremonial attention to climate change as the consequences could be disastrous.

Chemhere said the country could fail to meet the climate targets set out in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) due to lack of financing.

“Personally, I don’t think the budget allocation is adequate considering the total amount needed to finance our own NDCs. With the resources allocated, it would be impossible to meet the targets under NDS1.

“The allocation leaves the department with no choice but to rely on donor funds that, in most cases, come with conditions that might not be favourable to our own agenda as a nation.

“There is a need for a well-informed consultative process with stakeholders involved in the environment and climate sectors before these budget allocations are made,” said Chemhere.

Though national consultations on budgets are annually held, very little to no effort at all is dedicated to the environment and climate budgetary issues.

The director of the Climate Change Department in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Washington Zhakata said they were assessing their allocation to see whether or not it was sufficient for their activities.

“We have to assess the entire budget to assess the adequacy. We have been going through capacity-building initiatives in the districts on climate change mainstreaming including budgeting.

“It is our hope that the various districts got some budget allocations on climate change from the fiscus. Once we get clear on how much the government allocated collectively for climate change, then we can conclude on the adequacy of the funds,” said Zhakata.

Climate change is regarded as an existential threat to humanity and the world has been called upon to come together and provide funds towards mitigation and adaptation.

At 2015 Conference of Parties (COP) in France, countries agreed to come up with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which outlines how they will reduce their carbon emissions.

Zimbabwe has made an ambitious pledge to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2050 to help slow down the worst of impacts of climate change. It is, however, difficult to see how that will be achievable with such kind of meagre allocations.