Recently, the debate on whether Uganda should transition its investments to clean energy and leave her oil on the ground has dominated the airwaves. From the climate activist Dominica Lasota confronting the French President H.E Emmanuel Macron asking him to intervene in stopping EACOP to President Museveni authoring an article on how Africa Can Help Solve the Energy Crisis on Telegram UK. In this debate, Climate Activists from both Uganda and the world over have made it clear, that there is no room for fossil fuels in our future. 

President Museveni is not the only head of state to author an article in the international media, H.E Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice president of Nigeria also published an article in The Economist stating that Africa should define its energy transition but was quick to say “they cannot demand more stringent actions that rich nations claim for themselves in the energy transition even” but it’s evident that Nigeria like other African countries have already witnessed more negative impacts of oil for over six decades of oil production. 

A Just Energy Transition is a transition towards a sustainable, low carbon, and equitable energy system which is better for people and the planet. As the discussion continues to take shape around the opportunity Uganda has to become a global leader in the transition agenda, it remains a scientific fact that the world has no more room for fossil fuels, ignoring these calls is living in denial and denial will come to haunt us even more. 

The Envisioned Transition from fossil fuel to clean energy

Indeed, the recently concluded Conference of Parties (COP 26) meeting under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Glasgow UK saw over 39 countries across the world sign a statement committing their nations to take actions that align their international public support towards the clean energy transition and stop supporting new unabated fossil fuels by the end of 2022. 

The commitment by these countries under the COP 26 statement as well as all signatories to the Paris Climate Change Agreement mandates them to ensure that any activities that result in the generation and release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere are limited.

Africa ought to take these commitments in good faith, it is evident that across Africa, no country has managed to develop using fossil fuels, indeed as was observed by Michael L. Ross, in his book: The Oil Curse and How Petroleum Wealth Shapes the Development of Nations, since 1980, the developing world has become wealthier, more democratic, and more peaceful and yet this is only true for countries without oil. 

Investing in fossil fuels accelerates the climate change crisis which our countries are already faced with its impacts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report for 2022 confirms that the climate crisis disproportionately affects African countries. It further demonstrates that climate impacts will worsen sooner than previously predicted and that worldwide action is more urgent than previously assessed. 

The earlier 2020 IPCC report further stressed that there is an urgent need for countries to prioritize the fight against climate change and states that many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years and some of the changes already set in motion such as continued sea-level rise are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years

These reports propose the need for strong and sustained reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases to help bring benefits to air quality and mitigate climate change. With the available scientific evidence and the global shift into clean energy, Uganda cannot afford to be left behind, live in denial, and invest in diminishing industry which will leave our beautiful country with stranded assets that will push Uganda into a debt trap and destroy our environment 

It’s critical for the government, development partners, and oil companies to stop the witch hunt on the climate activist, and instead, listen to the message in their call and transition to clean energy; its inevitable

Mr. Aede Samuel 

Environment Governance Institute Uganda