Climate-change alarmism runs into a reality check
Kampala — FOLLOWING the recent climate change talks in Poznan Poland, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for global solidarity on Climate Change but this happens not to be a situation in Uganda since we have failed to recognise climate change as a priority, yet we are vulnerable due the fact that we depend on natural resources.
Looking at the current status of Uganda, there is no weather and climate policy. There are low levels of awareness of weather and climate among population, no adequate determination of adaptation and mitigation options to control green house gas emissions.
Uganda has actively participated in international fora on climate change, including being a vice president of the Conference of Parties, which is a member of Clean Development Mechanism and being signatory to most of the environmental conventions and protocols but has lagged behind in management and conservation of the environment.
Uganda is especially vulnerable, as evidenced by the impacts of the current climate variability and weather extremes such as floods, droughts and food security.
According to climate risk management and adaptation strategy – approach paper 2008, climate change could result in economic losses of the order of 5% to 20% of global domestic product and in the coming few decades, 1% to 2% of the domestic product in Africa, with some sectors much more exposed than others.
The aspects of climate change has silently been considered in Uganda basing on the fact that, it is a human induced change in the earth’s climate caused by the release of huge amounts of green house gases into the atmosphere.
Currently, the situation in Uganda is alarming, over 90,000 hectares of Uganda’s forest cover disappear per year yet deforestation is responsible for up to 20% green house gases, high rapid rate of urbanisation and un professional urban planning with low sound eco-housing guidelines and wide spread wetland degradation.
A recent International Climate Risk Report labels Uganda as one of the most unprepared and most vulnerable countries in the world yet vulnerability is a key concept for appraising effective interventions and responses to climate change. Ultimately, the economic crisis and losses of climate change will prevent Uganda from reaching the internationally agreed development goals including the millennium development goals.
While mitigation of green house gas emissions is crucial to limit long time climate change, in the short to medium term, adaptation to climate change is the only option to manage the adverse impacts of climate change and maximise development outcomes.
To maximise development impacts the most promising approach and a logical 1st step is to link disaster risk reduction and climate risk management and adaptation approach by addressing both current climate variability and extremes and future climate risks. The Faculty of Forestry and Nature Conservation at Makerere University and other forestry related institutions should be involved in the guidance and planning when addressing forestry programmes in the mitigation and adaptation for climate change.
Implement and strengthen “Article 6” of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that calls on governments to provide education, training, and public awareness on climate change.
Ultimately, the need for establishment of an environment fund to cater for implementation and adaptation plans, ratifying national adaptation programme of action into local adaptation plans of action and the need for the diligent participation of civil society and stakeholders to inform the government on appropriate methods. We must act to show that climate change is at Uganda’s focal point since it is the greatest thing hanging over humanity. Together, we can combat climate change.