Mr Paul Twebaze, a research fellow at ACODE.  By speeding up the energy transition and diversifying from heavy dependence on a single commodity, countries will protect the needs of future generations. PHOTO/Ismail Musa Ladu


COP28: Uganda must review her energy sector  policies 

What you need to know:

In an interview, Mr Paul Twebaze, a research fellow at Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment, explains to Prosper Magazine’s  Ismail Musa Ladu, why the outcomes of the COP 28 meeting will necessitate an overhaul of the national policies and laws for the energy transition plan launched in Dubai to prevail.

The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference commonly referred to as COP28, held late last year in United Arab Emirates marked the beginning of an end to fossil fuel. This may or may not come to pass – but what is clear is the intention to do away with fossil fuel.

 Why should Uganda and Sub Saharan African countries care about climate Change conferences?
Uganda and the entire Sub Saharan countries are not responsible for global warming. But some of the scientific evidence shows that temperature rise of 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels would lead to undesirable development challenges and temperatures above 2°C would lead to irreversible consequences on the global ecosystems. So, we are concerned about that because we are global citizens.
Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far- reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. This is why Uganda and Africa need to care about. In 2015, the parties to the Paris Agreement pledged to limit the average temperature rise to below 2 degrees, while actively aiming for 1.5 degree above pre-industrial levels. This was endorsed as a global target by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018 and since then, this has been pursued in all climate dialogues.

You still haven’t answered the question. Why should Uganda and people in the continent care?
While Africa accounts for approximately 3.8 per cent of global carbondioxide emissions, it is the most vulnerable in terms of climate impacts on the environment and economic development. 

The continent has started to take the decarbonisation agenda as a priority with several African countries including Uganda signing up to the Paris Agreement and agreeing to include climate resilience and low carbon emissions in their respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Some African countries have also made commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 55 per cent by 2030. For example, South Africa made a commitment to cut emissions by a further 28 per cent by 2030, compared with the country’s 2015 pledge. These commitment are no small feat. And that is why should care. 
How is this supposed to happen for Uganda?
One of the recommendations for limiting global warming was the shift from the use of fossil fuels and coal to cleaner energy sources. 

A declaration at the COP 28 meeting in December 2023 in Dubai, UAE, which signaled the “beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era” by introducing the first global stock take, lays down action points for countries to introduce plans that will lead to the reduction of carbon emissions.

The Dubai declaration triggers mixed feelings – on one hand, it leaves a slight window for investments including in the oil and gas sector and on the other hand, it exposes shortcomings in preparedness of the country towards those commitments. And these are things we have to address. 

What are the conference outcomes?
The conference has since made new commitments, and declarations for new climate initiatives to achieve a substantial progress under the global climate action agenda. The outcome areas of COP 28, were; fast-tracking a just, orderly, and equitable energy transition; fixing climate finance; focusing on people, lives and livelihoods; underpinning everything with full inclusivity.

The government will utilise the COP28 to renew its commitments, by launching governments Energy Transition Strategy. This is a key step towards realisation of pillar number one set by COP 28 presidency “fast-tracking a just, orderly, and equitable energy transition”. The energy transition strategy aims to fully mobilise national energy resources and potentials; bringing energy to the top of national agendas; and taking approaches that put country directly on to innovative, low carbon energy development pathways, while avoiding the fossil fuel lock-in now facing most industrialised and emerging economies.

Where does this leave the extractives sector, considering that Uganda is looking at commercial production of oil come next year?
Uganda will go ahead with its plans to produce oil and gas. This doesn’t mean that transition shouldn’t be in the agenda. But going by the  Global Stocktake outcome in Dubai, dubbed the UAE Consensus, covered the full scope of climate issues, sending critical signals for energy, transport and nature, and providing direction for the next round of national climate commitments (NDCs) due in 2025.

The key outcomes in the UAE Consensus include a call for the parties to “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050.”
This signifies both a rapid near-term shift away from fossil fuels and a long-term direction of travel to a zero-carbon future. The outcome also included agreement to triple the world’s renewable energy capacity and double its energy efficiency by 2030.

Then there is talk of Loss and Damage Fund Operationalisation. What is it for?
The Fund is designed to help climate-vulnerable countries deal with climate impacts that go beyond what people can adapt to. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) received a boost to its second replenishment with six countries pledging new funding at COP28 with total pledges now standing at a record $12.8 billion from 31 countries, with further contributions expected.

What next for Uganda?
Uganda has to turn the COP 28 decisions into reality. Uganda needs to align its next NDC reporting 2025, with the new cop 28 outcomes by incorporating strong targets. Review the relevant energy sector policies, laws regulations to align them with the Energy Transition Plan commitments.  

Uganda must develop a funding mechanism for the Energy Transition Plan. The implementation of the plan cannot be achieved without funds.
This is in addition to designing strategies to achieve a participatory, fair, inclusive, implementation of the Energy Transition Plan, mobilise financing to ensure a just energy transition including additional financing for climate actions such as adaptation and resilience.

I would want to see Uganda turn the goals expressed at COP28 into national action and ensure that the finance is available to implement them. The UAE Consensus should be translated into Uganda’s next round of NDCs and transformative domestic legislation and policies.