Last year by now, the Climate Change Department (CCD) at the Ministry of Water and Environment was busy finalizing the preparation of INDCs, a document that promised out how we are going to contribute in the fight against climate change,paving way for our attendance and participation in the landmark Paris climate Agreement COP21.
COP22, a ministerial meeting of discussions on means of implementation of the Paris Agreement before and after 2020 is yet again set forNovember 7 to 18 in Marrakech, Morocco. According to minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, Salaheddine Mezouar, speaking during a two day ministerial opening conference, said one of the pillars of the plan is to encourage Parties to implement and strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).
Uganda is one party currently taking a road that doesn’t reflect its INDC where the country pledges to cut “22 percent of national green-house gas emissions by 2030 compared to business-as-usual”. Easy said than done as they say.
We are right now digging up more oil wells despite the Global Climate call to keep fossil fuels in the ground—to curb carbon pollutants that warm our planet.
Crude oil reserves estimated by government geologists at 3.5 billion barrels were discovered in the Albertine rift basin along Uganda's border with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) way back in 2006.
But immediately after Paris meeting (Feb 2015), Uganda contracted three dirty energy companies; Nigerian firms WalterSmithPetroman Oil Limited, Oranto Petroleum International, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources and Australia's Armour Energy Limited rather than focusing pursuing its “paltry” renewable programs—paltry in comparison to the expenses and attention given to dirty energy investments.
So, as Mezouar congratulates the international community for the recent major successes achieved in fighting climate change which include triggering the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the ICAO agreement to curb CO2 emissions from the international aviation sector and the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol for the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in Malaysia, he should have commiserated parties whose strides towards cutting carbon dioxide emissions are inconspicuous as Uganda. But he didn’t. Instead, he said:
“COP22 offers us all a new hope to refocus on the targets we envisioned during COP21 Paris.”
Once again, 195 countries will gather for to streamline actions to save our planet. As the world gears up to reaffirm its commitment, its important Uganda, a country proud of its nickname: The pearl of Africa, opens up its eyes to the climate accelerated disasters such as heat waves, water shortages in its northern region, hunger and starvation amidst other tragedies manifesting a warming planet.
We should also recall what happened duringParis procession. Real world pictures of dwindling snow at Uganda’s “snow-capped” mountain Rwenzori was telecasted live into the conference till it turns out among some of the mind boggling sirens of climate change raising eyebrows of the delegates.
The Ministry of Water and Environment then noted that “we could actually lose the entire snow at the top of the mountain” if globe is not cooled. We, at the Paris climate accord, realised and acknowledged ways of cooling our globe by signing our name against ParisAgreement, an urgent need to keep the global average temperatures below 1.5 degree threshold.
But when the last knell went and we departed, the lure of dirty energy profits darkened and overshadowed our precision with realising rapid transformation in clean energy.
We could make clean energy strides if the current course of developing oil wells as well as gas sector is altered towards lifting clean energy sector from the ground where it’s currently lying at only 3 percent, and work for the over 85 percent of the country still plunged in darkness not only without “reliable, clean energy supply” but without any form of electricity. This hope should be refueled in the forthcoming COP.
One powerful illusion that could deceive Uganda steer away from its targets is the “sugarcoats” of its forecasted oil exploration. According to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, a leader famous for his much affection for black gold and gas as audible in his common adage “my oil”, this mineral exploitation “would create hundreds of thousands of jobs within few years, yield the government 80-90% revenues that would be invested back to agriculture and infrastructure”.
But an article titled “Uganda’s oil: pitfalls and environmental loss”, published in New Vision, refutes every “good aspect” of oil exploration amidst call to end carbon pollution. The article also revealed hidden realities behind oil and gas discovery, including the $14 billion – 880 miles Uganda – Tanzania Crude Oil Pipeline (UTCOP) proposed pipeline to transport crude oil from Uganda's oil fields to Tanga, Tanzania, a port on the Indian Ocean.
Yes, we don’t disagree that these facts are expiring world economic strategies for development.We realise fossil fuels area mirage of the worst counter-climate action caliber, and doesn’t only streamline the very carbon emissions we fight but also blocks the road to renewable energy development.
But we cannot sit back and be misled by illusions. If ourrecent agenda wasn’t all powerful enough to be reflected back by the promises we made before and during Paris, Marrakesh must be used as a new platform for catalyzing stimuli, to further stress the importance of implementing the pre-2020 commitments.
Written by: Boaz Opio
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