Ethiopia’s Got Big Ambitions

  In July 2010, Ethiopia’s Environment Protection Authority declared it would have a carbon-neutral economy by 2025. What? An entire country? Carbon neutral? While I know that developing countries emit considerably less carbon than countries like the United States do, this is a hard claim to swallow, especially in such a short timeframe.  Indeed, it seems that a lot of people have found this claim spurious – only Ethiopian news agencies reported on the declaration, and no multilateral or bilateral agencies supporting environmental efforts have mentioned it as a serious and credible commitment. So is it possible? According to the World Bank, in 2007, the United States’ CO2 emissions came to 19.34 metric tons per capita. South Africans emitted 8.98 metric tons per capita, Kenyans 0.30 metric tons per capita, and Ethiopians just 0.08 metric tons per capita. Ethiopia also has the advantage of low fossil fuel usage, as it only accounts for 8.52% of total energy usage. Fossil fuels account for 85.57% of the U.S. total, 87.74% of the South African total, and 19.57% of the Kenyan total. Ethiopia similarly has low electricity usage, at 40 kilowatts per capita. The United States uses 13638 kilowatts per capita, South Africa 4943, and Kenya 151. None of Ethiopia’s electricity comes from coal or natural gas, and 96.2% of its electricity already comes from hydroelectric sources, a strength that the Ethiopian...

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