Ill will On Fossil Fuels Break Loose

Things begin falling apart as NASA announces 2016 is hottest year in recorded history. So the threat of climate change proves soaring enough to move countries to break the ice. Here begins a story of men and women standing erect through manmade pains facing the changing planet. Thousands of whom have emptied sorrows to the streets or coal quarries or oil terminals in May 2016 sampling a united will to get rid of dirty energy once and for all.

History may just be rewritten. But the half thrilling and half intimidating side of the truth will forever echo the curse of dirty energy lobby as among the most impossible dystopian illusion of this generation. When the globe finally cools, the battle is successful. When extinction approaches, will the oil industry have planet ‘B’?

Whether or not climate activism is the cup of tea here, the dark past of climate denial, by all standards have bred about 0.04% (400 parts per million) carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, many times higher than 400,000 years ago.

Fossil fuel companies bigger than monsters have bankrolled anti-climate change philosophies; climate activists – as meek as lambs of God are being arrested…the list is endless, but the most recent illogical treatment is the arrests of nearly 60 advocates protesting Keystone pipeline in the US. So confirms the saying: “change is painful but inevitable.”

Equally, it might hurt world governments to give up oil wells for the public wellbeing. But the pains and wretchedness resulting from extreme weather conditions such as ill-health, including those caused by droughts, floods, food insecurity and inundation from rising seas is even much long bottled in communities around the world.

Even oil industry knew of 'serious' climate concerns more than 45 years ago. In fact, researchers warned American Petroleum Institute in 1968 how the release of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels could eventually lead to ‘worldwide environmental changes.’

Despite this good faith, they chose to pay a deaf ear, that’s why things had to fall apart. Some did the opposite – trying to challenge climate change science – with illicit documentations. Further evidence unveils that American Petroleum Institute, the peak body for the oil industry in the US, knew about the dangers of climate change at least 20 years before the issue was brought into mainstream public discourse via the former Nasa scientist James Hansen.

The then influential world leaders like the US president Lyndon Johnson also received an early cautioning about climate change, with scientists explaining the mechanism of the greenhouse effect as early as 1965.

For how long could any such delicate matter be hidden? Not too long! With the final blow being the latest Nasa’s thermometers reading global average temperatures as ‘soaring at 1.28C’ as of March above the average from 1951-1980, while February was 1.34C higher, dangerous tipping points, an irreversible benchmark could be crossed.

Climate change is usually crosschecked over years and decades, but even scientists have been struck by the recent unprecedented temperatures. Furthermore, annual heat records have been also breaking records, with 2015 demolishing the record set in 2014 for the hottest year seen, in data stretching back to 1850.

Prof Michael Mann, a climate scientist who spends most of his time between shelves and laboratories of Penn State University also became agile-tonged about March data by saying: “Wow. I continue to be shocked by what we are seeing.” He said the world had now been hovering close to the threshold of “dangerous” warming for two months, something not seen before.”

“The [new data] is a reminder of how perilously close we now are to permanently crossing into dangerous territory,” Mann said. “It underscores the urgency of reducing global carbon emissions.”

As such terrifying facts unfold; the fossil fuel business seems dragging towards hell, with sharp losses resulting from steep price drops. Alternatively, exemplary investors like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is divesting its heavily invested holding in BP.

The weights “breaking” dangerous fossil fuels is the most courageous wave of actions challenging business as usual across the world. Motivated by an ever strengthening, ever stretching effort to achieve 100% renewable energy, breakfree campaign resounds the knell that spelled fossil fuels at the close of COP21.

In the UK, the campaign had the country’s largest open-cast coal mine shut over 12 hours. While in the Philippines, over 10,000 people marched in Batangas city demanding the cancellation of the proposed 600 – megawatt coal powered plant in Barangay Pinamucan.

All signals indicate greener earth and a brighter future will lean on the raptures of renewable energy miracles that must shatter the bondage of carbon dioxide emissions nuclear energy price competitions built from the cradles civilization to the present moment.

To harness the moment, activists and concerned citizens committed to addressing climate change—from international groups to local communities to individual citizens— are united to maintain grips to force energy providers, as well as local and national governments, to steer towards a renewable future through investing in wind and solar energy.

This enviable cause justifies the discharge of thousands of men and women showing the world a glimpse into wrecking resistance through solidarity hard for politicians foster. Each action was unique: from the coal fields of UK, to the oil wells of Nigeria, to defiant actions against new coal power plant in Indonesia and the Philippines -- and many places beyond but all echoes one sound: stop polluting our ecosystem! End fossil fuels. And now.

In order to address the present-day climate crisis, fossil fuel projects need to be shelved and existing infrastructure needs to be replaced now that renewable energy is more affordable and widespread than ever before. The only way to achieve this is by keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground and accelerating the just transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

 

By Boaz Opio

Environmental Writer, Kampala Uganda.

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./ +256784947523

Huawei Uganda, KCCA For Africa Mayors Forum

Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider, to partner with KCCA for Africa Mayors’ Forum known as the East and Central African Cities Development Forum. 

The three day African Cities’ Development forum to be held by KCCA at Speke Resort Munyonyo from 24th to 26th of May 2016 is to attract hundreds of high-level audience, mayors, scholars, research institutes, enterprises and private sectors to participate and discuss extensive topics like realizing UN sustainable development goals, delivering great 21st Century African Cities, safety and securities in Cities and financing infrastructure investment in African Cities among others. 

Huawei Uganda to deliver Keynote address on how to promote Smart City and Safe City in African Cities such as Kampala in order to cut down crime. 

“With our 18 years of experience within Africa’s ICT industry, coupled with our extensive industry global network, Huawei is well positioned to share the best practices and latest ICT solutions. Huawei has a presence in most of the 54 African countries where it works closely with telecom operators to modernize their respective networks and with governments to support ICT infrastructure deployment and digital transformation practice. We know that our insight in Smart City and security in African cities shall give an end to end solution for crime in Africa,” says Mr. Stanley Chyn the Managing Director of Huawei Uganda. 

According to Mr. Stanley Chyn, Huawei is to exhibit virtually to the attendees how its Smart City and Safe City solution can be incorporated in African Cities’ already existing infrastructure to cut crime, manage traffic and surveillance among others. The Prime Minister of Uganda Rt. Honorable Ruhakana Rugunda is going to open the East and Central African Cities Development Forum in Munyonyo.

PHOTOS: Kids Tackle Climate Change Challenge With Verve

Developing countries like Uganda are at a higher risk of being devastated by the negative impact of climate change. As a preventive measure environmental activists are undertaking initiatives to stop agents of climate change.

One of the agents of climate change is deforestation which is an act of cutting down trees. In a situation where trees have been cut, efforts to re-plant new and more tree is taking shape. Afforestation is being used to curb the devastation caused by the vegetation that was cut down by man.

In Uganda, Little Hands Go Green, an organization championing good environmental practices, is using children friendly initiatives to protect the environment. Over the weekend, the organization hosted over 500 children at a one day International Children’s Climate Change Conference 2016. The conference which was also celebrating International Earth Day took place at Rainbow International School.

The conference also celebrated World Earth Day

Children from different schools debated environment and water topics, presented poems, participated in tree planting exercises, made paintings in support of nature, danced and presented their ideas about mitigating climate change. Senior environmentalists were also at hand to answer questions from the pupils.

Pupils were taught how to plant and care for the trees

The annual conference, the third one in a row, was organized under the theme ‘When Water Slows, Trees Die’. It was supported by Midland Group of companies, National Forestry Authority (NFA), NBS Television, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Vivo Energy.

Uganda's Little Hands Go Green team at the conference

Joseph Masembe CEO of Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green said the only way the environment can be saved is through using the young generation because “they are our future and we must create love for nature in them in order for them to encourage and inspire others.”

Kotecha handed over a dummy cheque of Shs10m to buy tree seedlings that will distributed across the country.

Drashna Kotecha, Director of Rainbow said “we must make sure that environment is protected and preserved to have proper living. A conference like this grooms young generation on the importance of nature and that’s why we as Midland Group of Companies joined Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green and we shall support them as long as we can.”

 

 

 

Charcoal Burning Uganda’s Future

 

Tree fellers should use the timber for making their own coffins. Because, as they kill that 100 year old Mvule, the poor tree is busy supplying them with good air to live. Hacking down a living tree to produce charcoal, one is initiating endless cycles of murder no one can ever tell. First, life of a tragic carbon at a thousandth year of captivity in the trunk is being restored! The logger is innocently condemning the lives of uncountable species of living things.

Deforestation, and especially the destruction of rainforests, is a hugely significant contributor to climate change in Uganda. Scientists estimate that forest loss and other changes to the use of land account for around 23% of current man-made carbon dioxide emissions – which equates to roughly 17% of the 100-year warming impact of all current greenhouse-gas emissions.

The impact of the charcoal industry in Uganda’s once believed to be the most stunning of all Africa’s vegetation is despairing.

Surely, if one day, the spirit of one Sir Winston Churchill, who constantly referred to Uganda as the Pearl of Africa could tour back, we can’t know what the late would make of how rapidly the country has lost it’s beautiful ecosystem to, primarily energy.

Ninety-six percent of Ugandan households depend on wood fuel for cooking. According to a study conducted by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the rate of charcoal production and usage in Uganda between 1998 and 2008 increased by 76% mainly due to increased urbanization.

The study further noted that production of charcoal in Uganda was mainly based on cutting naturally growing trees using simple methods. The current rate of deforestation stands at 1.8%. This means the scarcity of firewood can only get worse unless ambitious interventions are put in place to reverse this trend.

Wood fuel is deeply rooted in both Uganda’s household and industrial energy mix that several attempts to cut the production of the fossil fuel often meets resistance.  In Gulu district, charcoal burners in January only played hide-and-seek with the local authorities trying to impose a mere month ban. 

More burning can’t help heal the already raped lands. But just how will the 85% of the population survive without a reliable alternative energy source? Will the small solar panels visible on few roof tops of villagers produce enough energy for cooking food?

According to some reports, Uganda loses close to 73,000 hectares of forest cover annually, which has critically catalyzed the impacts of global warming in the land-locked country: fields that no longer grow… erratic and harsh weather conditions such as hot days, all have their seeds in a falling tree.

Every year our atmosphere loses around 10 billion cubic metres of oxygen, replacing it with carbon dioxide that would absorbed by flora. Knowing this should help us appreciate the vital contributions made by trees.

During the course of its life, a single average 100 year old tree will have fixed the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) contained in 18 million cubic metres of air in the form of about 2,500 kilograms of pure carbon. Experts have calculated that a hectare of well-working forestry annually absorbs about 6.5 tons of carbon dioxide while releasing 3.5 to 5 tons of oxygen.

For all of human history until around the dawn of the age of fossil fuels, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere was stable at ~275 parts per million (ppm). As climate pundit Bill McKibben explains, “Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules to all of the molecules in the atmosphere.”7 275 ppm CO2 is a useful, balanced amount which allows enough greenhouse-gasses to create a warm, livable climate but not so much as to make a dangerously hot one.

With limited renewable energy of poor nations, the demand for the fossil fuel have swelled and our carbon-emissions have soared exponentially. As a result, there is now a dangerously high amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

An average 100 year old tree is said to have availed 6,600 kilograms of oxygen for living creatures. A single tree such as a mature Mvule can produce enough oxygen for 10 people for a year. Cut down a Mvule and you condemn 10 people. Cut down a hundred and you condemn a village. Cut down a forest and you are committing genocide; aside from destroying wild-life habitats.

Cut down forests for fossil fuels and you are doing no service to humankind. You are a blight, not a blessing, on civilization; and the face of this Earth – you are burning the future!

 

BY: Boaz Opio

Environmentalist (Kampala Uganda)

 

Rainbow International School Swimathon Fundraises For Children's Climate Conference

 

Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green, a local organization that fights against Climate Change using children led initiatives, has sealed a working partnership with Rainbow International School in support of the upcoming International Children Climate Change Conference.

The conference which is in its third year will take place on Earth Day, 22 April, at Rainbow International School. To kick off their partnership, Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green and Rainbow organized the first ever charity swimming competition dubbed ‘Swimathon’ to raise money to buy fruit tree seedlings.

The two entities used the event that took place on Saturday to hold a press conference to launch the International Children Climate Change Conference. Rainbow International School also used the press conference to announce that they have joined the Go Green campaign. They also declared their unspecified sponsorship of the children’s climate change conference.

“We at Rainbow are all proud to say that today is the day when we officially go green.” A statement released by the school owned by Midland Group of companies read in part. “As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Midland Group and Rainbow have come out to strongly support environmental conservation efforts through tree planting.

We are thankful to all our students, parents and teachers that took part in the ‘Swimathon’ to raise funds that were handed over to Little Hands Go Green (Uganda) for the purchase of tree seedlings to plant all over Uganda. Let’s go Rainbow, let’s go Little Hands Go Green (Uganda), let’s go Uganda – make our country green!”  Drashna Kotecha the Director of Rainbow International School and Midland Group told journalists at the swimathon.

Joseph Masembe, the chief executive officer of Little Hands Go Green urged Ugandans to seek and create a patriotic culture of saving “our mother nature, our environment and ultimately our future” by creating a mass hysteria about tree planting by children both at school and at home.

“There is no one who is going to do it for us but ourselves. We have to tell our children it is their responsibility to protect the environment. Today we have involved them to get tree seedlings through this fun filled event of swimming. At the conference we will tell them why they should care about the environment and how they should do it.” Masembe explained.

AAR Staff Wellness Challenge To Promote Health Lifestyle

 

AAR Uganda Saturday morning unveiled the AAR Staff Wellness Challenge to boost fitness and encourage a healthy and fit lifestyle. The challenge is a fitness campaign by the staff of AAR Uganda, which was launched officially at Lake Victoria Resort, Kigo. This year-long campaign will see the employees of AAR Uganda embark on a fitness contest for a grand prize of one million Uganda Shillings.

According to Trevor Ariho, the General Manager - AAR Uganda, the AAR Staff Wellness Challenge ties in aptly with the company’s theme for this year which is “Wellness.” He also said that this particular challenge is meant to motivate employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle and set good examples as members within the medical insurance field.

AAR, which is Uganda’s leading health insurance provider and has over the years led in the provision of innovative lifestyle and health packages for the Ugandan public, decided on the innovative wellness challenge in response to the growing number of unhealthy lifestyles that lead to lifestyle related disease likes hypertension, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression.

Last year alone, some of Uganda’s leading corporate entities continued to lose some of their pivotal workers to diseases that would be easily be deterred with work-outs, fitness and body training challenges. Trevor asserted, “As AAR, we lead the way. We believe charity begins at home. It is from endeavors like this Wellness Challenge that we can easily drive the message home to our customers. I am delighted our staff are enthusiastic about this and I am sure our customers will pick up our example.”

The AAR Staff will be assigned trainers who will take them through regular fitness exercises. They will have their body mass index (BMI) monitored on a special fitness chart every three months and the AAR employee with the most significant change in their body mass index every six months will be awarded with a grand prize of one million Ugandan shillings.

Children To Celebrate Earth Day With Climate Conference

 

Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green will celebrate this year’s earth day, a day on which the world demonstrates its support for environmental protection, with an International Children's Climate Conference which will be held at Rainbow International School in Kampala on 22 April, 2016.

Preparation for the conference which will attract hundreds of children from different parts of Uganda are in advanced stages according to Joseph Masembe, the Chief Executive Officer Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green. The conference will discuss challenges affecting environment and solutions. There will also be an exhibition.

“We are ready to host our children at Rainbow International School. We are big and better this year. We expect presentations from high profile environmentalists and children from in and out of Uganda.  The International Children's Climate Conference has demonstrated that working with children to preserve the environment works,” Masembe explained in an interview.

This is the third International Children's Climate Conference. Last year’s conference was held at Sheraton Hotel Kampala. It attracted high profile personalities like Irish Ambassador to Uganda Dónal Cronin, Pius Bigirimana, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Minister Rosemary Nankabirwa among other dignitaries.

The International Climate Change Conference for Children is being organized by Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green and My Kid is a Superstar in partnership with National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), NBS Television, Midland Group, Rainbow International School and Lato Milk.

Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green has in the past years involved children in promoting conservation of climate through planting of fruit trees. Masembe says planting fruit trees hits two birds with one stone; promoting health through eating the nutritious fruits and conservation of the environment.

Issues of global warming and climate change are becoming more critical calling for dynamic approaches and colossal attention. Planting trees is one way that has been recommended. Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green discourages human habits that contribute to damaging the now fragile climate.

Uganda’s Little Hands Go Green discourages the habits like cutting down trees and littering the environment. “We are telling these youngsters to be responsible. We also involve them in finding solutions to issues that are causing climate change. The conference is interactive.” Masembe explains.

Urbanization Must Be Ecologically Sustainable – Experts

 

One of the characteristics of sustainable urban centers is that such settlements and development must be ecologically viable, Associate Professor Sabiiti Makara of Makerere University told a public dialogue at Victoria University in Kampala, Uganda on Thursday 7 April.

This means that urban planners and leaders must address ecosystem challenges when planning to develop urban centers like cities, municipals and towns. Sabiiti, a political science lecturer at Uganda’s biggest and leading university said that cities must be clean with no littering, green with open spaces and environmentally conscience.

Sabiiti was speaking at a Public Dialogue on Promoting Good Urban Governance organized by Victoria University in partnership with the Centre for Urban Studies and Research under the theme ‘Promoting Good Urban Governance in Uganda: Challenges and Opportunities’.

A panel of experts discussed challenges and solutions to ensure good governance in urban centers.  Sabiiti revealed that at 5.1 percent annually, Uganda is one of the countries experiencing the world’s fastest urbanization trends.

The professor added in order for good governance to prevail, urban centers like cities must be economically productive, socially just, politically vibrant, culturally diverse and have own development capacity. He warned by that lack of political order causes problems and stalls urban development.

In Uganda urban centers due to poor planning and lack of good governance surfers every time it rains because of poorly built drainage systems. Due to pollution of the environment by unregulated industrialization, many people are getting deadly diseases.

Often times environmental issues are raised when for example city projects including infrastructure developments are being undertaken. The drive to save swamps and wetlands in Kampala has been ongoing but with less success as rich people and government erect structures in swamps. This destroys the ecosystem.

Leaders blamed

In a similar manner, Dr Kiggundu Amin Tamale working with Center for Urban Studies and Research advised that urban center managers should perform because they are hired and paid to think for what is good for towns. “As city managers, you need to think for your people but they are failing.” Tamale noted.

David Kasimbazi, the programs coordinator at Center for Urban Studies and Research said there is a disconnection between policies and what is on ground. Kasimbazi’s opinion is also reflected by calls to bring law and policy reforms to improve service delivery in urban centers across the country.

Fr. Pascal Kabura from the Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) explained that disagreements between political leaders and technical people hamper implementation of development projects.

“Take an example of Kampala Capital City, the fighting between Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and the Executive Director, Jennifer Musisi has cost us good service delivery for over four years. It is time we separate politics from City planning; development of towns and cities has been frustrated by politicians who claim to know it all,” Fr Kabura said.

Millennials To Get Hands-on Hospitality Training

 

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between Sheraton Kampala Hotel and Enterprise Uganda to provide young entrepreneurs with various skills in the hospitality industry through hands-on training and exposure. The initiative is supported by the Youth Business International.

Sheraton Kampala Hotel will train twenty young entrepreneurs that will be selected from a pool of applicants over a period of 12 months. The training will be in all departments of the hotel and the interns will be guided and trained by our very experienced line personnel.

“At Sheraton Kampala we strongly believe in youth development initiatives as a means of maximizing the potential of the underprivileged and at risk youth  and one of the ways is through our extensive hands-on training program that we operate and use to train aspiring hoteliers. Some of the outstanding trainees join us on a full time basis.

We are very grateful for this partnership with Enterprise Uganda and we believe the youth that will be selected will benefit a lot from this training.” Said Sheraton’s General manager Mr. Jean Philippe Bittencourt.

Sheraton Kampala Hotel which is managed by Constellation Hospitality, (a Dubai based Hotel Management Company) is confident that the success of this partnership in Uganda will be the perfect catalyst to roll out similar programs across the other sister properties. The initiative is also in line with Constellation’s strategic goals to improve the skills and develop the careers of its associates.

With the high levels of unemployment in Uganda, Sheraton and Enterprise Uganda have offered this training opportunity to equip the youth with the skills and knowledge to be able to start up their own businesses. The hospitality industry is extremely competitive and this training will go a long way in ensuring the youth entrepreneurs stand out from their counterparts.

“We trust the expertise at Sheraton and we are confident that these skills will be passed on to the trainees to be better hoteliers and entrepreneurs. The training will be a 360 degree course where they will receive knowledge from some of the best people in the hospitality industry as well as advise and mentorship from the experts at Enterprise Uganda.

The main essence of this training is to offer youth skills that can be used to start up their own business or apply the skills in their careers” Explained Mr. Charles Ocici, Executive Director of Enterprise.

The hotel industry has surfed at the hands of unskilled employees. This has been made worse by lack of training institutions, facilities and opportunities. In the long run, this has affected the tourism sector. Initiative such as these will go a long way in improving service delivery in hotels.

Hima Cement Gets Environmental ISO Certification

 

Cement makers Hima Cement, is a subsidiary of Bamburi Cement Ltd. which is a member of the LafargeHolcim group, has received ISO certification for Environment Management System.

The Environment Management System ISO: 14001 is awarded to companies working towards prevention of pollution, eliminating, reducing and disposing of waste in a responsible manner and having integrated environmental monitoring procedures. 

“We remain committed to the integration of environmental and sustainability issues into our business activities,” says Jimmy Onen, Hima Cement’s Health and Safety and Environment Engineer. The cement manufacturer has been pursuing various projects to ensure the minimum possible harm to the environment as outlined in its environmental sustainability ambitions. 

For instance, the company has significantly reduced the use of Fossil fuel and now mostly uses natural clean fuels in its production operations thus reducing carbon emissions. Hima uses biomass fuels generated from coffee husks, rice husks, palm kernels, G-nuts husks and baggase which also supports Ugandan farmers. 

In 2013, Hima Cement completed installation of a new bag filter technology at its Kasese plant to stop dust Emissions. The company also continues with rehabilitation of all used up quarries to their former productive state.

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