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Uganda drafting a legal framework on climate change

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th November 2012 05:24 PM

The earth has been warming since the industrial revolution in the 19th Century and the Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change points out that the industrialised countries are responsible for global warming.

The earth has been warming since the industrial revolution in the 19th Century and the Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change points out that the industrialised countries are responsible for global warming.

By Vision Reporter
 
The earth has been warming since the industrial revolution in the 19th Century and the Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change points out that the industrialised countries are responsible for global warming. 
 
The warming of the earth is caused by the increased concentration of greenhouse gases such as carbondioxide that trap the heat escaping from the earth surface. Greenhouse gases are emitted by burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal in factories and vehicles. Other sources include decomposing materials such as solid waste. 
 
Climate change refers to the significant and lasting change in the global weather conditions over a long period (25 years and longer) and mainly resulting from human activities, according to the State of the River Nile Basin 2012. 
 
It also states that climate change manifests through changes in average temperature and precipitation, which are important drivers of the water cycles.  
 
What are the  East African countries doing about climate change?
 
East African countries are at various levels of implementing legal and policy framework on climate change. 
As the East African Community, the countries have a policy on food security and climate change passed by the East African Parliament.
 
The East African countries share ecological systems such as Lake Victoria, which is affected by climate change. Cross border migration of people especially between Karamoja in Uganda and Turkana in Kenya takes place during years of drought. 
 
Kenya is ahead of her sister states with a climate change policy in place and a bill on climate change being discussed in Parliament. Not far away is Uganda, which is also drafting its legal framework. 
 
Climate change policy for Uganda
 
Uganda is developing a policy that will help to coordinate action on climate change, increase awareness and funding of priority interventions, according to Paul Isabirye, the head of the Climate Change Unit. 
 
“Many people are trying to do something in response to climate change, but not in a coordinated way,” he said, adding that the draft policy will be discussed on December 13. 
 
The policy, according to Isabirye, will provide an environment for harmonised action and also promote resource mobilisation from the Government, NGOs and donors. He pointed out that it will spell out priority areas interventions that need funding. 
 
The policy, among other things, is seeking to create a department in the environment ministry as the custodian of climate change issues in Uganda, but with supportive structures in other arms of the Government.
 
After drafting the climate change policy, Isabirye pointed out the Climate Change Unit is going to follow up the legislative framework that was seeking to domesticate the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992) and the Kyoto Protocol that obliges developed countries to reduce dangerous emissions.

What is at stake at Doha, Qatar? 
 
Uganda is participating in the two week-long meeting on climate change that started on Monday, November 26. The finalisation of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is the biggest deal. 
 
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement that set binding targets for 37 industrialised countries for reducing emissions causing global warming to an average of 5% against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012. The first commitment period ends this year.
 
“We want the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol to continue without a break,” Isabirye told New Vision yesterday. 
 
Isabirye is one of the negotiators at the conference of parties in Doha, Qatar. 
“A lot of things are not yet resolved, especially when it comes to emission reduction and funding to the less developed countries,” Isabirye says. 
 
“We want a clear signal from the developed countries to cut down emissions in light of the science and not pledges that remain hanging.”  
 
Other delegates said there is a lot of inaction regarding climate change negotiations, which has been undermined by the US refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Canada last year pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol and other big emitters indicated that they will not sign the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. 
 
The Minister of Water and Environment, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, is expected to lead Uganda’s delegation. The delegation will also include Betty Bigombe, the state minister for water, Flavia Munaba, state sinister for environment and the minister of tourism, Maria Mutagamba. 
 
About 50 delegates from Uganda are in different negotiation blocks such as LDCs, Africa and G77 and China.  
 
Africa did not cause the problem, but is to suffer more 
 
Given their low level of industrialisation, African countries such as Uganda emit low levels of greenhouse gases, but they are likely to suffer more from the impacts of climate change. 
 
According to Robert Bakiika, an environmental activist, many years of development are likely to be reversed by disasters linked to climate change. For instance repeated disasters in eastern Uganda have led to destruction of infrastructure such as roads and displacement of people. 
 
Global conventions have been crafted with principles such as common, but differentiated responsibilities that require countries that have benefitted a lot from burning of  fossil fuels to take the lead in reducing emissions and also helping poor countries to adapt to climate change. 
 
But developed countries are yet to show serious commitment.

Uganda drafting a legal framework on climate change

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