Climate Change, Africa's Dilemma and Environmental abuse in Uganda

Sunday, November 14, 2021

The developed countries who are the big environmental polluters of the northern hemisphere this week concluded COP26 summit in Glasgow, UK where they drumed up support for the scare over climate change and its gathering catestrophic consequences already facing humanity.

Many of them like the US, China, India, Australia, Canada, Japan, and Spain have recently been hit really hard with destructive hurricanes, rising sea levels, uncontrollable wildfires, tsunamis and volcanoes. As a result, partly, President Xi Jinping last month announced that China will no longer fund coal power plant constructions abroad. Back home in China there is very agressive measures going on to close down hundreds of coal power plants and being replaced andby hydro, solar and wind energy. There's also timeline and generous incentives to citizens purchasing electric vehicles instead of those using fossil fuels especially in the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai in efforts to cut down its global carbon emissions by 2026. In Beijing a fuel engine vehicle is now purchased only through lotteries, limited to one, and you're allotted days in the week when to drive, or else one pays additional charges. Further, China has just concluded a global meeting on protection and promotion of biodiversity as another effort to protect nature and coexistance. In China because of strict internal rules it may be easy to achieve many of the new shifts.

On the extreme end the US under president Joe Biden is just returning to global committiments including WHO and the Paris Climate Accord from which maverick Donald Trump had walked away. Unfortunately with the current political gridlock it's difficult to see how soon Biden delivers meaningfully and comprehensively to his global committiments when he is staggering with domestic agenda.

Africa must push back the current blanket climate change narratives being driven mainly by western Europe and their surrogate hired academicians and NGOs. The same groups have been telling Africa to stop building hydropower plants along rivers like the Nile supposedly to protect the environment, wildlife habitats and tourism attractions.

While it's true that climate change has come with vengeance, the developing world in Asia, Latin America and Africa need to take calculated steps backwards to avoid being dragged into past pitfalls of similar narratives that derailed it from development, socio-economic transformation and Uganda and much of Africa we can still balance effectively balance the exploitation ok f fossil fuel, rewable energy, industrial development, socio-economic transformation and prosperity on the one hand while safeguarding against environmental abuse and climate change.

Already, many African countries especially in the Sub-Saharan  region have by deliberate mischievous designs been left behind in technological development and skills transfer. Much of Africa is still largely dependent on obsolete modes of production mainly labour intensive a left-over from the last century.

Secondly, as a result of the above, Africa remains mirred in a myriad of cumulative deficiency in critical, available, affordable and sustainable energy sources even to light up the homes of its residents, streets of emerging cities and towns, let alone industrial hubs.

Without easily available, affordable and sustainable energy it's inconceivable to see how Africa meaningfully participates in and transits to the so-called efficient and carbon neutral energy sources in the foreseeable future without remaining stuck in cyclic ackwardness and the accompanying evils.

Solar, wind and hydo power all depend largely on the vagaries of natural weather and climate that are for now hard to predict or control for large-scale industrial production, and therefore it will be a mistake to give it unqualified support. This is critical particularly against the backdrop of past unfulfilled pledges by western countries on timely, concrete, substantive a MB d well-structured development support.

And while we may blame foreigners for environmental pollution, in Uganda we have demonstrated our collective ignorance, collousness, careleness, and untamed greed that has led to the current predicament. First there has been failure to enact and enforce a comprehensive national plan to protect and promote clean and sustainable environment policy. In the desparate efforts to attract investments, create industrial employment, goods and tax revenue government permitted reckless, unplanned and wanton encroachment on what should have otherwise been protected areas. Virtually all swamps and wetlands that hitherto drained excess water are now the industrial parks  in major urban centres and along highways in Uganda turning surrounding areas into deathtraps.

In addition government permitted junk polluting technologies into Uganda with little or no regulation which are now part of our industries, transport, work places and homes.

And because the overwhelming majority of Ugandans remain in subsitance livelihoods, the forest cover has been cut or burnt down for wood fuel, crop cultivation and normadic animal grazing leaving only 12.4%. Forest replanting by government agencies has been at slow pace and often mirred by corruption. Investments in forestry,  biodiversity, environmental protection and promotion by private holders remain negligible especially in the most distressed areas because of regressive land tenure and financial resources required. With populist politics currently in play, it's unlikely that any meaningful actions will be taken to address enviromental abuse.