COP26: Fighting global warming, and what Tanzania can do about it

Traders arrange bags of charcoal. The use of charcoal contributes to carbon emissions. PHOTO | FILE

When Tanganyika was granted Political Independence from alien rule 60 years ago, the world was already suffering from global warming. But, it is only in recent years that there is agreement on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that increase temperatures and climate change, which results in droughts and food shortages for many countries.

Countries agree that global warming can only be tackled by working together. In a landmark agreement in Paris in 2015, they pledged to keep global warming to 1.50C.

We may want to ask ourselves what COP26 stands for. It is the UN’s 26th climate change Conference of the Parties. For close to three decades, the UN has been bringing together world countries for global climate summits, dubbed “Conference of the Parties” (COP). The COP26 that took place in Glasgow, UK, from 31 October 31-to-November 12, 2021 was attended by Her Excellency President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania.

A new global agreement, the Glasgow Climate Pact, was reached at the summit. It aims at reducing the world’s worst impacts of climate change, although many campaigners think it does not go far enough. Others see it as a good step. It will set the global agenda on climate change for the next decade.

It was agreed that countries will meet next year (2022) to pledge further cuts in the emissions of carbon dioxide in an effort to try and keep the temperatures rises within 1.5 degrees Centigrade, which scientists say is required to prevent a climate catastrophe. In the following paragraphs we skim on what was agreed upon and what Tanzania can do.

Reducing the use of coal

For the first time at the COP26, there was an open plan to reduce the use of coal which is responsible for 40 percent of annual carbon emissions, with major antagonists being China and India.

Tanzania has been taking steps to reduce the use of wood charcoal, which not only results in deforestation, but also wastes energy, and contributes to emissions.

It is important to think seriously about using other sources of energy. An area to explore, especially for the masses, is to replace wood charcoal with firewood harvested from trees that have been planted by communities instead of relying on natural forests.

It is possible to think of every households, every village, and every ward having their own forests for energy and other uses.


Leaders from more than 100 countries which have around 85 percent of the world’s forests promised to stop deforestation by 2030. This is very important since trees absorb vast amounts of CO2.

Clearly, here Tanzania can play a part, first by educating the public on the importance of trees; by having programmes to plant trees in as many places as possible: private land lots, schools, institutions, roads reserves, places of public gatherings and so on. It is, of course, important to have a clear knowledge of what trees to plant where to avoid other environmental catastrophes. Children, for example, must be brought up to respect trees - and feel proud to plant and look after trees.

There must also be efforts to prevent encroachment on existing forests under any guises: agriculture, pastoralism, tree harvesting and so on. Even the licensing of timber businesses needs to be looked into.

True, there will be claims for the need for land for farming - especially given the rapidly increasing population. But, this could be countered by increasing productivity on the land that we are already using for agriculture.

The solution for land shortage should not be extension of land uses to new areas but the intensive use of the land that is currently being used. Deforestation must be stopped at all costs; and a move adopted to go for tree planting to create forests for private use and harvesting and to increase the country’s forest cover.

‘Green buildings’

A “green building” is one which - in its design, construction and operation - reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can instead create positive impacts on world climate and the natural environment.

We need to develop a building code to ensure that all the buildings we put up, modify - or even demolish - conform to the requirements of being ‘green’.

Next year’s COP will take place in Egypt.