Economists root for transition from charcoal to cooking gas

Jan 15, 2024

Mugume said that practical approaches to clean energy transition would involve schools using biogas for cooking instead of charcoal and firewood.

Participants attending the policy dialogue on green financing at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel, Kampala. Photos by John Odyek

John Odyek
Journalist @New Vision

Economists and business captains have called for practical action in achieving the transition from using charcoal and firewood to using cooking gas, biogas and electricity which are considered clean, safe, healthy and environmentally friendly sources of energy.

Dr Sam Mugume assistant commissioner, macro-economic department, ministry of finance explained that green financing is financing investment made for sustainable development.

Mugume said that with green economy comes equity, it takes the interests of citizens in the current and future time. “With green financing we expect to have clean air to breathe, clean energy and clean technology. We need to move to action and not stay on paper,” Mugume explained.

This was during a policy dialogue on green financing. It was organised by the Environment for Development Initiative Makerere University (EfD-Mak) Centre.

The theme of the dialogue is: ‘Green financing in Uganda: from paper to practice’. It took place on Wednesday 20th December 2023 at the Sheraton Hotel, Kampala.

Mugume said that practical approaches to clean energy transition would involve schools using biogas for cooking instead of charcoal and firewood.

He noted that with more investment and critical thinking the transition can be achieved. He appealed to commercial banks to give ‘green funds’ at low interest

He indicated there is a climate finance unit at the ministry of finance to mobilise and talk about green financing. “Going green is a choice and if not we make this choice we shall face floods or be forced to make the choice. Deliberate green financing by government and private sector is key and should be done speedily,” Mugume said.

EfD is a global environmental network of 15 research centres in the world. The centres do research in environmental economics and development, to do research and engage with stakeholders.

Dr Edward Bbaale director Environment For Development Centre (EfD) Makerere University observed that to achieve some of the green aspects like walk ways, electric vehicles, bicycle ways there is need financing.

Bbaale said some people wrongly perceive bicycle riding with poverty yet is a green thing. “Some problems on green growth require analysis and practical approaches. Deforestation is affecting the world yet the population is rising,” Bbaale said.

“There are some opportunities that can come from green growth such as employment, energy, food production, infrastructure development, innovations,” Bbaale said.

He said that policy change does not happen overnight, there must be engagement and patience. “It is a friendly relationship we intentionally cultivate. When we undertake research on energy transition, we don’t move alone, government stakeholders have to be part of the process. We disseminate what we have found out and engage further and how to better our view or perspective in different areas. The global discourse is around green transitions,” Bbaale said.

Prof Eria Hisali the principal School of Economics Makerere University said that the target should be to achieve a twin objective of attaining low carbon outcomes with high economic growth rates in an environmentally friendly way.

Hisali suggested that researchers have to be interested in the two areas to understand the current growth landscape in Uganda.

Hisali questions should be asked such as where is economic growth coming from, what activities drive livelihood, what are environmental concerns to growth in regards to status quo, what disruptions would the transition to low carbon sources of growth pose or come along with.

“What therefore are the best options to make the transition less impactful on the economy?. How will the green financing instruments be made attractive for different actors to take them on such as green bonds, what incentives can policy makers consider to make transition take place”

“What audit and tracking processes are available to monitor progress. What is the voice of Ugandans in the discussions towards low transition economy, do we have the same voice, where is the equaliser, shall we make green imports, should we go green as powerful nations make lip service”

Dr Peter Babyenda EfD-Mak policy engagement specialist for the Inclusive Green Economy (IGE) Program and lecturer at the School of Economics said that people today are living in times of water loss and climate change which is affecting lives.

“We need to move to green growth, low carbons-in-order to mitigate these effects. We need to finance this green growth which is different from other types of financing,” Babyenda said.

Allan Ssenyondwa, the manager policy and advocacy at the Uganda Manufacturers Association

Cited Germany where he said 90% of forests are started in Germany for business purposes. Ssenyondwa said in Germany people are given money to plant trees and the trees are used to make timber, paper and other byproducts.

“The academia has to work with the private sector and not lecture it. The private sector leadership is now led by intellectuals,” Ssenyondwa explained.

He argued the private sector, academia, and government should be speaking the same stories on green financing.

“We are not good at drumming up good stories but complaints, we focus on solutions not complaints, we want to work with them on the same table,” Ssenyondwa said.

Ezra Muhumuza the executive director of the Uganda Manufacturers Association said there is discussion on climate financing but not on climate action.

Muhumuza said some components of climate change may need money and some not, some actions can come from within and others from out.

“You can’t talk of the death of a dog when there is death of a cow. What is going to be the trend when we engage in green financing?. What benefits are to arise from engaging in green financing?. We need models to show scenarios on how we shall benefit by engaging in green financing,” Muhumuza said.

He asked how money is spent on training experts on climate financing in Uganda when there are many trained experts.

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