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Climate change should top 2021 presidential candidates manifestos

Presidential hopefuls Kizza Besigye and Bobi Wine

Presidential hopefuls Kizza Besigye and Bobi Wine

For years, climate change has been the also-ran of presidential campaign issues.

A few weeks ago, the Finnish election broke a trend in northern European elections by seeing climate displace immigration as the main issue at a time when the threat has become more serious.

The current and expected effects of climate change differ locally, nationally and regionally. The impacts of climate change affect livelihoods, food and water security, ecosystems and infrastructure, among others.

The sunshine ravaging the vegetation, flooding sweeping off homes and drought killing crops are just some of the examples of the effects of climate change. Uganda ratified the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.

Uganda signed the Paris Agreement on climate change in April 2016 and ratified the agreement in September 2016, with it entering into force in November 2016. These are key protocols which the intending presidential candidates must greatly be keen on. The second National Development Plan II (NDPII, 2015-2020) notes that climate change is one of the greatest challenges for Uganda. The response is to mainstream climate adaptation and mitigation into sector planning and implementation.

The National Vision 2040 prioritizes, among others, renewable energy, appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies, knowledge and information sharing on climate change, increased coordination and capacity, and improved monitoring/ evaluation regarding climate change interventions. But those on the frontlines of climate change politics say it’s no longer enough for it to be just one of several top issues.

With time running out to cut greenhouse gases in order to limit the effects of climate change, presidential contenders need to commit to making it their main issue when they take office. While it’s too early for presidential campaigns, so far the intending candidates seem more animated by kitchen-table issues like health care and economic inequality.

That’s understandable given that most of them cut their teeth as politicians in an era when climate change ranked low on the list of priorities. But the urgency of climate change makes such a posture unacceptable since climate change is a global issue.

A landmark report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations climate science body, shows that the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030 to keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5°C by 2100, a level the agency warns will kill off the world’s reefs and unleash mass climate-related migration, among a slew of other challenges. Meeting that goal is difficult already. And then there’s the political urgency.

If history is any guide, the next US president is likely to have one shot at passing big legislation before the politics of the midterm elections take over.

Climate change could easily fall to the wayside if it’s a second or third priority for the next president, as the case is for the current government. We need to push elected officials to prioritize climate change and endorse bold solutions. Ultimately, though, as the effects of climate change grow more severe, the warming planet will push its own message.

The urgency of global warming is much easier to understand when your backyard is on fire. And that may be what it takes for people to vote on it.

Climate change-relevant expenditure is heavily concentrated in relatively few ministries: the ministry of Works and Transport, the ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, the ministry of Water and Environment, the Office of the Prime Minister, and the ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.

No climate change-relevant expenditure could be identified within the ministry of Health, despite this ministry being identified as requiring significant funding in the draft Climate Change Implementation Strategy.

Therefore, the presidential candidates should address considerable investments in system strengthening, which continues to be required if the level of expenditure highlighted in the climate change implementation strategy is to be achieved.

Awareness raising and technical support relating to climate change (causes, impacts, and adaptation/ mitigation options) should be provided to key district government staff. Considerably, the candidates should address the total spending on climate change-relevant activities, which is estimated at around one per cent of government expenditure.

This has remained broadly constant over the four-year period 2016/7 to 2018/19. This spending equates to around 0.2 per cent of GDP, which contrasts with the level set in the draft Implementation Strategy of the Climate Change Policy, which suggests around 1.6 per cent of GDP needs to be spent on climate change- relevant activities.


The author is team leader CliMates ECOs Uganda and UNFCC/YOUNGO member.


+1 #1 Olum S. 2019-05-23 01:09
There is one topic in all this that seems to have been wilfully ignored: that is Population Growth and its effect on Uganda's ability to protect, preserve its forests, national parks, wetlands, rivers, lakes etc.

Uganda is one of the world's fastest growing populations, and within 3 decades, it is estimated she will hold well over 100 million inhabitants. This is a shocking number for any nation to deal with in such a short space of time.

This is simply unsustainable. No advanced nation could handle such a situation, let alone a very poor country like Uganda. And as we all know, the country doesn’t expand in size with the population.

This is yet another one of the biggest mistakes committed by this NRM/A regime: this desire to see Uganda’s population grow at an unsustainably rapid pace, despite the desperate warnings from experts both within the country and outside.
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+1 #2 Olum S. 2019-05-23 01:11
Uganda’s President, several years ago even described this population explosion as a ‘blessing’; as he has often cited China and its huge population as a point of reference.

However, it is clear that to M7, a huge population equals 2 things: a huge army, and a huge market.

It therefore shows M7 is obsessed with quantity as opposed to quality because he has firstly failed to examine, and take note of the pressures that China faces with such a massive population.

Also, China’s huge population is very highly educated and skilled, and therefore an attractive market, as opposed to Uganda’s overwhelmingly poor, demoralised, mostly illiterate youth.
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+1 #3 Olum S. 2019-05-23 01:13
So this population explosion in Uganda will lead to increasing pressure, violent conflict over land. The NRM/A regime will be overwhelmed trying to tackle this crisis.

As we all know, in these circumstances, the first victims of this population pressure will be our flora and fauna, our wetlands, lakes, rivers.

It is now a known fact that we cannot afford to destroy the nature around us. They are extremely important in the fight against climate change.

Our forests, with their massive range of plant species, and the insects and animals that inhabit them are far more important to us than we ever realised until now.

It is now proven that if we destroy them, we destroy ourselves.
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0 #4 Akot 2019-05-28 21:36
Olum S., thanks.

European young campaign openly & have forced future leaders to put climate on top! EU election put in good standing "green" parties this time, while old politics that debated climate for +30 years without giving concret answer, lost badly!

European parties came together to represent 1 body to ensure places in parliament & are still calling for UNITY!

Population control is a necessity for development, social protection & Brexit/EU election gave a shake, woke Europe to reality!

With over whelming migration, developing countries' population is growing so fast & social services are suffocating, taxes are going up! France that gave free public transport cards to job seekers can't today & these have to use their allowances on transport now!

Wonder why French Union National/British Brexit came out first?

When will Ugandans UNITE?
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0 #5 Akot 2019-05-28 21:43
Olum S., thanks!

This is why British said NO to more migrants as families/under aged come for mainly Education, healthcare & jobs!

This has overwhelmed European schools & social services! French teachers are complaining of ever increasing n° of students & come out to say they only can manage -25 students per class!
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0 #6 Akot 2019-05-28 21:56
Olum S., thanks.

Protection of [forests, with their massive range of plant species, and the insects and animals that inhabit them are far more important], yet look at how UNHCR contributes to destruction of the earth with refugee camps that destroy even grass in compounds, trees are cut down for firewood leaving land empty, dry, dusty!

Massive use of firewood in poor countries is 1 major factor for climat change.

Climate protection starts right in the house & people MUST have means to clean living, right?

UN is not aware climate change has no frontiers!

If Europeans woke up to ensure EU is reformed & rul well, why is this not the case with UN that is more destructive to the earth today than any thing else?

Have you seen the states of UN refugee camps & surrounding areas in Uganda...?
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0 #7 Akot 2019-05-28 22:12
I like the picture above, but disturbed why Dr Besigye & mp Bobi Wine have not yet called Ugandans to UNITY, to ensure Museveni is out & there is a beginning to the next step!

Ugandans can only have a start when Museveni is thrown out in UNITY as this will leave no chance to war, but;

- Reformation of the Republic, or

- Independent Tribal States!

Europeans go for UNITY, why not Ugandans who really need it?

When will Ugandans understand their future, that of their children/grand kids lie in bringing down the tribalistic system through their UNITY?

Ugandans must know they need leadership, if they are to show Museveni way out & have a start, in peace!

Look, UNITY of Algerians, Sudanese brought down leaders they no longer wanted, yet, without the just 1 leadership needed for new start, they can't form governments to have it!
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