We need urgent phasing out of fossil fuels

It is evident that when it comes to the climate crisis, Africa is at the eye of the storm, with Uganda being in the top ten most vulnerable to climate change.

By Guest Writer

Opinion: I was keenly following the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) summit that happened last year between November and December in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai, and it marked a pivotal moment with the agreement of over 200 nations to establish a fund aimed at assisting countries affected by the impacts of global warming, a landmark decision that was hailed as historic.

The summit left us for the first time to agree to transition away from fossil fuels because the failure to agree to a phaseout ignores the science and sends a signal to polluters that governments may tolerate fossil fuels forever, even as millions of people around the world demand climate action now.

Unfortunately, despite urgent warnings from scientists and growing demands from millions of people, the much-needed promise to phase out fossil fuels didn’t make it into the agreement.

According to the Global Stocktake (GST), a report examining countries’ efforts to reduce planetwarming emissions since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. In essence, it’s a global “report card,” providing governments with guidance on where they need to improve. The report indicates that results are pretty poor in ensuring a climate action effort.

The report made it clear that countries are not on track to prevent 1.5°C of warming. It is absurd that the summit produced no concrete recommendations on fossil fuels, signaling to the thousands of fossil fuel industry lobbyists that their interests will be prioritized over those suffering the worst effects of the climate crisis.

The agreement sends a signal to those thousands of lobbyists who gathered at COP that there is a long and profitable future for their destructive businesses, regardless of what the science tells us.

Serious climate action means no loopholes, no reliance on unproven technology, and an immediate phaseout, with massive financial support for the transition from the richest countries and from big polluters.

It is evident that when it comes to the climate crisis, Africa is at the eye of the storm, with Uganda being in the top ten most vulnerable to climate change.

Africa is vulnerable because it is exposed to damaging climate risks, including extreme droughts, flooding, and storms. Comparatively to the Global North, there is a lower capacity for adaptability, making it further vulnerable to high rates of poverty and financial and technological constraints as a result of its reliance on agriculture.

Africa has one thing in common with the rest of the world: the certainty that rising temperatures will exacerbate existing problems and vulnerabilities. Like any other country, Uganda has experienced the wrath of climate change, which affects the livelihoods of the people by destroying their properties, losing lives, and others.

Uganda’s economy and the livelihood of her people are highly dependent on natural resources, which are prone to climate change impacts. The country experiences increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events manifested in more erratic rainfalls and prolonged dry seasons due to climate variability and change.

However, despite such effects, the country continues to prioritize oil and gas activities, which will increase the risk of overshooting vital climate goals. These projects result in worsened climate change impacts on human and environmental health.

Therefore, the government’s investment in the oil and gas sector at a time when an energy transition is ongoing and even the European oil and gas majors are reducing investment in the sector will also mean that Uganda will be stuck with infrastructure that provides less value than the investment made in the infrastructure. Ugandans could also be forced to continue depending on oil and gas, which has grave negative impacts on the environment, climate change efforts, health, and human rights.

The author is Vivian Lunkuse, Center for Conservation and Ecoenergy Initiative (CCEI).

Disclaimer: As UG Reports Media LTD, we welcome any opinion from anyone if it’s constructive for the development of Uganda. All the expressions and opinions in this write-up are not those of UG Reports Media Ltd. but of the author of the article.

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