By Eunice Musiime Kataaha
THE negative impacts of heavy rains and continuous down pour that we have witnessed in the recent months, have reinforced the need for us all to call for action to mitigate climate change. As Ugandans we must speak up for climate justice.
Globally, the world is preparing for another United Nations Conference of Parties (COP 17) on climate change that critics have dubbed conference of promises, procrastinators and polluters as the major developed countries drag their feet on whether a successor agreement to the Kyoto protocol that expires in 2012 will be agreed upon and instead are proposing a voluntary arrangement.
The developed world especially the USA and Australia are also reluctant to make a firm commitment to emission reductions that will lead to reducing temperatures to 1-1.5 degrees Celsius. Another contention is that the World Bank should be disqualified from playing a role in designing a green climate fund given its track record in supporting projects that continue to negatively affect the environment.
While, Africa remains the worst affected and least prepared to build resilience against climate change and its impacts, it contributes less than 4% of greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming and hence climate change. It is still in Africa’s interest to make efforts towards mitigation as well, especially as it’s of note that greenhouse gases has increased by over 45% since 1990 level.
Consequently, green growth is part of the mitigation path for our development. In pursuing a green growth path, we must ascertain that we can promote green, grow, create employment and improve standards of living of the citizens. Harnessing growth opportunities should not entail environmental degradation, deforestation including giving away Mabira, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity and so on.
Further as Africans we must demand that developed countries support developing countries in meeting costs of investing in technology transfer and clean energy sources: biogas, solar, wind and hydro. In so doing, energy investment choices can support national objectives for growth, energy efficiency, environmental quality and building adapting to climate change.
Growth possibilities can be illustrated by the experience of Brazil which switched from fossil oil imports to the production of ethanol from sugar cane thereby reducing the import bill and reducing dependence on oil. Also, opportunities were created in rural areas where sugar cane was grown.
In striving towards a green economy, Africa faces the challenge of striking a balance between improving access to basic services, promoting the welfare of its citizens and attaining a high level of development on one hand and ensuring that the natural resource base and the quality of the environment are not compromised, on the other hand.
How this can be done includes but is not limited to paying due consideration to the role of the private sector in promoting green technology, complementing the role of the state in promoting the green economy through prudent natural resource management.
Greening the economy offers immense opportunities of improving human wellbeing and social equity while at the same time reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. A green economy should be driven by a public private partnership of investment that reduces carbon emissions and pollution while increasing incomes, generating employment and ensuring resource efficiency.
Preserving our wetlands, ensuring the efficient management of the River Nile and Lake Victoria, are among the key efforts in this regard.
Writer is the Programme Coordinator Policy at the Uganda National NGO Forum
Climate Change: Uganda should consider greening the economy