Minister says climate change can bring economy to its knees

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The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, has appealed to local government leaders to take on a greater role in the fight against climate change.

Kadaga was speaking at the follow-up feedback workshop of the Climate Change COP22 Conference held in Marrakesh, Morocco in 2016.

The Kamuli workshop attracted Local Government leaders from the Busoga Sub region and was organised by the Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change and held at Century Hotel.

The COP22 was the 22nd Conference of Parties under the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held as a follow up to COP21 in Paris, France at which world leaders agreed on various measures to address the adverse effects of changing climate.

In Paris, the leaders agreed on issues including greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.

The Speaker said there was need for the local government to mobilise people and resources possible to restore the environment through engaging in extensive reforestation and afforestation.

“The United Arab Emirates which is practically a desert is covered with green. These Arabs are using recycled water to support vegetation growth,” said Kadaga.

“It is embarrassing for us with plenty of water to fail to take up forest growing initiatives.”

She cited the drying of Lake Chad in West Africa and the disappearance of the Angara fish common in water sources in Zombo district as an example of effects of climate change.

Kadaga also encouraged the government to borrow money to restore the environment if money cannot be provided in the national budget for the cause.

“There are countries like Costa Rica which took loans to restore the environment; we should do the same since we keep borrowing for other things,” she said.

The Minister of State for Environment, Hon. Mary Goretti Kitutu warned that climate change could bring the economy of the country to its knees if it is not dealt with in time.

“I urge MPs to keep putting pressure on the government to plant more trees. The recent drought was just a small demonstration of what is to come ahead if we do not act on the changing climate,” Kitutu said.

The Minister urged the district leaders not to lament about the lack of funds but, to instead come up with non-monetary ways of dealing with climate change.

“Let us take simple initiatives like reducing tree cutting and increasing tree growing; protecting wetlands instead of reclaiming them; and planting bamboo trees along river banks,” Kitutu said.

She however promised to avail US$ 7.7m through the Ministry of Environment towards tree planting and to push the government to present the Climate Change Bill to the Parliament.

Hon. Violet Akurut (Katakwi District), the Vice Chairperson of the Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change said that workshop aimed at providing feedback to the people on the ground about what was discussed at COP22 in Marrakesh.

“In this meeting, we established adaptation of the Paris Agreement is constrained by poverty. Most of the alternative sources of energy are capital intensive like using highly modernised charcoal stoves and solar energy yet most of the people the necessary funds,” Akurut said.

Akurut added that a few alternative options were proposed to combat climate change like rigorous tree planting.

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