Why we are performing dismally in climate change compliance

What you need to know:

Generously fund the biomass energy sector and reap in high performance... 

Climate change is the long-term shifts or variations in the average temperatures and weather conditions and here is how it can happen;

As a result of natural causes eg changes in the solar cycle; or through human activities mainly by burning fossil fuels and biomass – releasing dangerous GHG (CO2 and methane) in the air.

Burning fossil fuels including diesel, coal and biomass in all forms, for generation of electricity, industrial process heat and household/institutional cooking; - using poor, traditional inefficient technologies, result in the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) gases in addition to methane - from garbage landfills, which gases create an impervious layer above the earth trapping the suns’ heat which lead to temperature rises and attendant effects – thus leading to climate change.            

According to several national strategy documents and studies including the National Climate Policy, energy use in Uganda is dominated by traditional biomass, with electricity and other fuels playing a very minimal role.  While national policy and strategy development plan documents like the Energy Efficiency Strategy for Uganda 2010-2020 note the acute prevailing low access to electricity and other modern energy services and products, they also point out the extremely low access to clean fuels and efficient technologies for cooking. This high and widespread dependence on biomass resources, employing inefficient technologies for energy production and utilisation, further exacerbates the generation of high volumes of GHG, especially carbon dioxide gas –the leading cause and contributor to severe climate change effects and widespread ecological damage.

It goes without saying that the production and consumption of biomass energy using traditional wasteful and inefficient technologies, is one of the major drivers of deforestation leading to land degradation and, ultimately causing untold and uncontrollable environmental and ecological effects – including landslides.

National development strategies and policies provide serious national commitment to increasing the consumption of clean energy and, efficient utilisation of energy while promoting productive use, and incentivising households to switch to efficient, clean and modern cooking fuels and technologies.

For instance, the renewable energy policy aims at increasing the share of renewable energy in general, from a lowly four percent to more than 61 percent in a few years. The combined effect of these strategies if well supported and financed, would be to ensure provision of an improved and cleaner energy utilisation regime, that contributes to rational resource exploitation, ensuring conservation of nature, energy security, while supporting rational sustainable economic development, and creating a cleaner environment through reduced production of climate change factors, hence improving Climate change compliance performance.

But here is the twist; whereas such good policies recognise ubiquitous use of wasteful and inefficient technologies that enhances and drives climate change, and the need to counteract it, there has been little or no dedicated government support to ensure that above measures are implemented countrywide.

Save for the Green Charcoal project in Kiryandongo, Kiboga, Nakaseke and Mubende, there is lukewarm national efforts and no determination in terms of financial support for the identified, down-to-earth, low cost and high impact interventions that would make a significant contribution and shift in reducing or suppressing the production of the dangerous gasses in the country.

The continued tendency to neglect funding the low cost but high impact areas like biomass energy technologies will have very serious repercussions in terms of poor performance in compliance to climate change, as well as to the nationally determined contributions.

Government, through the relevant ministries and departments needs to stop the neglect, embrace the available opportunity of low hanging fruits and generously fund the biomass energy sector and reap in high performance as far as climate change compliance is concerned. 

Mr Godfrey Kimuli is a senior energy officer at Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development .

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