Use oil to cause energy transition

The crude oil pipeline covers 296km and traverses 10 districts, 22 sub-counties and an about 172 villages.PHOTO/FILE/NMG.

What you need to know:

  • Mr Cyrus Kabaale says: Clearly, the government continues to fail Ugandans in-terms of current fossil fuels development plans

In the wake of Covid-19, there is need for governments to ensure a just recovery and transition to low-carbon energy systems for economic and social recovery.

Clearly, the government continues to fail Ugandans in-terms of current fossil fuels development plans. Government is still making progress towards development of its 6.5 billion barrels of oil, with plans to build a $3.5b East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

However, as government seeks to turn oil reserves into tomorrow’s fuels, oil development will certainly further lock us onto the path to irreversible climate change and failure to meet Paris Climate Agreement, goals.

Moreover, many oil projects continue to rob locals of their land and livelihoods in violation of their land,  and other property rights. These are degrading the environment and climate in equal measure,  hence fuelling a triple crisis.

In Hoima District, a 29-square kilometre piece of land was acquired by government to pave way for an airport and oil refinery. The crude oil pipeline covers 296km and traverses 10 districts, 22 sub-counties and an about 172 villages. These projects continue to eat up land that locals depend on for their livelihood.

Uganda is an agriculture country and the sector remains the main source of livelihood and employment for more than 60 per cent of the population.
A recent report by Environmental Governance Institute (EGI) working with three environmental organisations from Ghana, Nigeria and Togo in cooperation with Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Both ENDS, reveals that since the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement, rich countries have provided almost 50 times as much support for fossil fuel related projects and less for clean energy projects in the four African countries.

It further states that rich countries through export credit agencies insured that energy projects with a total value of $11b and more than half of this export support, is related to fossil fuels. Only 1 per cent went to sustainable renewable energy. Export credit agencies provide insurance and guarantees to companies doing business abroad.

The report titled ‘A Just Energy Transition for Africa? Mapping the impacts of ECAs active in the energy sector in Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and Uganda,” calls upon rich countries to stop support for fossil fuel developments, including the EACOP and large hydro-power dams in Uganda that undermine the Paris Climate Agreement, aggravate climate change, destroy the environment, heighten human rights violations and leave local communities disenfranchised.

The report highlights the story of 56-year-old widow Beneconsicla in western Uganda, who has to leave her land on which her banana plantation sits and that she depends on to feed and provide for her family of five children. She had to pave way for the EACOP, which is supported by the UK-based Export Credit Agency.

Uganda is a signatory to the Paris Agreement, and according to its Nationally Determined Contributions, the country has committed to a 22 per cent emission cut on a business as usual basis by 2030 in a bid to mitigate and adapt to climate change and transit to a low-carbon climate-resilient economy.

However, developing oil and gas resources will increase greenhouse gas emissions. One of the most significant gases emitted when fossil fuels are burned, is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the earth’s atmosphere and is responsible for global warming. 

Without urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, climate change will worsen. We will see more frequent and intense rains, floods, and droughts that will have major impact on communities. 

Cyrus Kabaale,
[email protected]


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