This seems to have got very little coverage, but over the summer Ethiopia has joined that small and elite band of countries that have announced their intention to go carbon neutral.
Ethiopia’s decision proves that development and climate change mitigation are not mutually exclusive, and that moving to a post-carbon way of life is not a route to poverty. It should also be pause for thought for that rarer breed who suggest that climate change is a conspiracy to keep the developing world poor. Most importantly though, it’s an African country showing the kind of bold leadership that puts the rest of us to shame. The UK likes to talk up its emission targets as the most robust in the world, but carbon neutral by 2025 – that’s more like it.
Ethiopia plans a vast re-forestation project, coupled with a drive to replace fossil fuel energy with hydropower. The country also has wind power potential, and there are large untapped geothermal opportunities all along the Rift Valley.
The Maldives was the first country to announce its intention to go carbon neutral by 2020. Costa Rica and Iceland have also pledged to go carbon neutral, but have a great head-start with 94% and 99% renewable energy respectively. New Zealand and Norway are also part of the club, and so is the Vatican.
Britain’s plans look cowardly by comparison, but we do have some interesting side projects. Working with defined boundaries, many of the UK’s islands have taken a lead in cutting emissions. The Isle of Eigg installed a smart grid that allows residents to generate and redistribute clean power around the island, but it does have a population of just 95 people. Nevertheless, it’s a pilot project that will be rolled out across other Scottish islands.