The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP27 starts today in Egypt with the presence of African countries larger than ever before.
The Sharm el-Sheikh summit, which Uganda will also attend, has been billed as the “implementation COP” after the 2015 plenary in Paris that birthed the deal to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C.
COP27 comes hot on the heels of an energy crisis precipitated by the Russia-Ukraine war that has strengthened the resolve to ditch polluting fossil fuels. Uganda has found itself caught in the crosshairs, with the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) called into question.
Speaking at the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Trust Conference during the last week of October, Vanessa Nakate—a climate change activist—articulated a systemic change away from fossil-driven economic growth.
“The oil and gas that fossil fuel companies want to develop in Africa will not be for Africans,” she said, adding: “That oil and gas will be loaded onto ships and get shipped to Europe. And the profits from that new fossil fuel development will line the pockets of people who are already very rich.”
Ms Nakate was thought to be tacitly referring to Eacop whose 1,440km-pipeline and terminal-storage facility will be propped by French energy giant Total Energies and Chinese energy firm CNOOC. The two entities have a $5 billion stake in the fossil fuel project.
“When that new fossil fuel infrastructure has to become obsolete in the next couple of decades, the resulting debt will suffocate Africans who are already drowning in existing debt,” Ms Nakate said of vulnerable people on the climate frontlines, adding: “The only way to lift people out of energy poverty is through distributed renewable energy.”
Mr Elison Karuhanga, a member of Uganda’s chamber of mines and petroleum, says the fossil fuel project will not “increase our emissions by one percent.” Mr Karuhanga reckons as well as demanding a just transition from fossil fuels, Uganda’s delegation at Cop27 will spare no effort in ensuring that “environmental conservation doesn’t keep our people poor.” The delegation, which is led by First Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, includes the Water, Environment and Energy ministers.
Delegates from nearly 200 countries are expected to descend on Sharm el-Sheikh. The geopolitics of COP27 is expected to place greater focus on concerns of developing nations, not least because it’s being hosted in one. Africa continues to experience some of the worst impacts of the climate crisis despite being responsible for less than four percent of the global CO2 emissions.
At COP27, developing nations, including Uganda, are expected to nudge the global north to follow through on promises to deliver $100 billion in annual climate financing. The damage wrought by climate change has this year been noticeably felt in crop prospects and food situations.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations made known in its quarterly global report last month that 40 countries find themselves “requiring external assistance for food.” Thirty-three of these countries are in Africa. They include Uganda where northern, eastern and sections of the central part of the country have grappled with multiple failed rainfalls.
The Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) has warned that the country’s cattle corridor is expected to become water-stressed. The dry conditions are likely to affect the quality and quantity of pasture in the corridor, jeopardising food security.
FAO reported: “Consecutive poor rainy seasons … adversely affected crop and livestock production” and precipitated “frequent episodes of cattle rustling, leading to the loss of productive assets and high food prices” in Karamoja Sub-region.
Livestock and crop farmers in some districts in eastern Uganda have also started feeling the pinch of the long dry spell. For instance, several farmers in Kibuku District who had planted their food crops are already counting their losses. The hostile weather has also not spared cattle keepers.
Malnutrition cases in Budaka District have spiked, with Dr Elisa Mulwani, the district health officer, attributing the grim picture to among others “lack of food.” Rainfall deficits are believed to have resulted in widespread crop wilting in the eastern district.
The economic costs of the climate crisis quantifiable in lives, livelihoods, food systems and homes lost are expected to make the push for reparations, a big deal at COP27.
Additional reporting by Mudangha Kolyangha
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Publish date : 2022-11-06 05:00:00