By Boaz Opio
Of recent, US president Barrack Obama tweeted present-day earth’s photos obtained from a space agency illuminating an evident dissimilarity with those taken 30 years ago. “It is a reminder that we’ve to take care of our planet” the president added.
But even more recent, a workshop was organised by the Climate Change Department of the Ministry of Water and Environment in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Makerere University Private Sector Forum to explore ways in which increased and more effective public-private cooperation could help accelerate progress towards the worlds looming threats of climate change.
At almost the same time, the World Resources Institute (WRI) issued a directional document on “Designing and Preparing Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)” for use by countries in the process of developing their contributions in the lead-up to the December 2015 climate negotiations stressing that several countries - belonging either to LDC or SIDS -will be supported in the preparation of their INDC, among them Uganda.
In a keynote address delivered by the Executive Director for the Uganda Industrial Research Institute, Mr. Charles Mwesigwa, the Governor of the Bank of Uganda, Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile challenged financial institutions to embrace climate change mitigation and called for the establishment of a Climate Investment Fund, which would complement existing bilateral and multilateral efforts. “These funds will scale up public and private finance for the deployment of clean technologies, the prevention of deforestation and development of climate resilient economies in developing countries”, he said.
It seems the government is not paying us mere lip service this time around because several countries are embarking on a serious course to cut carbon emissions towards ‘resilient future’, a slogan influencing ambitious movements and engagements by countries than ever referring to which Switzerland became the first country in the world to submit their detailed national commitments. South Africa’s major pollutants of Coal mines have also been requested to make serious adjustments; “It was a day packed with formal information about MPA (Mitigation Potential Analysis), DEROs (Desired Emission Reduction Outcomes), the PPD (Peak Plateau Decline) and INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions)” cried one of the attendees of a meeting that was organized to reflect on the current progress of the South African Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC). Uganda is among 153 countries that haven’t yet declared how they intend to reduce pollution of the atmosphere by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, when is she submitting hers?
No one can tell. However there appears to be hope as the current ban on polythene bags locally known as buveeras is a step in the right direction. “With effect from 15th April 2015, the ban on the use of Buveera (Polythene bags) which had been imposed in the 2009/10 National Budget would be implemented” reads a public warning by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). The next day, I saw groups of police officers confiscating merchandises outside a prominent supermarket that still provided it’s shoppers with the banned bags.
Together with the present much advocacies against ‘eco-enmity’ human actions: newspaper articles helplessly running titles like “lifting the veil on graves”, “burial practices and corpse disposal another imminent land pollutant and space spender” and many others, everyone must be on alert on whether our leaders will choose to lend deaf ears on environmental sirens or will respond with the desired ‘sink or swim mentality’.
A firm recommendation has been made by Dr John-Hawkins Asiedu, Minister Counselor and Commercial at the Ghana Embassy in Turkey who shared Ghana’s experience in engaging the private sector in climate change mitigation. The frontrunner advised that the first step is to promote an active and vibrant public–private partnership (PPP) that will participate in policy formulation to guide the progression towards our national development. This consequently saw representatives of Uganda’s private sector signing a declaration to commit to reduce carbon emissions, an action rekindling Uganda’s National Development Plan (NDP) highlighting among the strategic objectives under climate change, the need to support a low carbon progress pathway.
Evidently, the country’s private sector is suspected to be one of the biggest emitters of carbon further enchanting awareness that more must be done in providing the necessary support that would rally them (Private Sector) to engage in, or finance, climate change mitigation actions without overlooking challenges such as competitiveness of low-carbon investment, uncertainty over actions by competitors and customer preferences, as well as the absence of a clear policy or regulatory framework that may stumble the country’s careful footsteps on the way to the long-awaited United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21 scheduled for November December 2015 in Paris.
The writer is a climate tracker for the UN #CALL4CLIMATE ACTION and a Development Economics student of Makerere University.