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Energy and Climate Change, an interconnected global challenge.

In 2015, countries around the world made a major stride – they agreed to reduce carbon emissions by half of this century. This saw 196 countries sign on to the Paris Agreement which binds each signatory to take country-specific actions. 

The agreement was adopted on  12th December 2015 during the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United  Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and entered into force on 4  November 2016.

The ultimate goal of the Paris Agreement is to reduce global warming to at least 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial level, whose definition continues to raise controversies- while some scientists use periods between 1850-1900 as a baseline, others suggest earlier timelines arguing that by then greenhouse gas concentrations had already started to rise because of large volcanic eruptions.

“We suggest that the earlier period of 1720-1800 is a better choice for this baseline. This is because the major natural factors that also affect earth’s climate – the levels of solar and volcanic activity – were both at similar levels to today,” reads arguments contained at

With controversies abound, in this 8th week of 90 Days of Oil and gas campaigns, the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP) looks at the different views in regard to energy and climate change as the two are directly interconnected. 

Carbon dioxide (CO2) which is largely considered one of the key contributors to global warming is a natural gas that is produced by all living things; falling leaves in autumn emit  CO2 into the atmosphere, and the reaction between the rays from the sun and surface of the ocean also emit considerable amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and more interestingly,  some research suggests that volcanoes produce more CO2 than the fossil fuel powered industries on an annual basis.  

Needless to say, most of these processes that emit significant amounts of CO2 are natural phenomena.

The Paris Agreement focuses on human activities and obliges developed countries to provide financial, and technical support and to build the capacities of developing countries to reduce emissions. This however should be considered alongside the need to maintain a sustainable energy mix for humankind. It is important to note that the success of the energy transition revolution to renewables is heavily dependent on a multitude of other factors including the availability of sufficient mineral resources to aid the massive production of batteries, turbines, and other components of the energy systems.  

It is unfortunate that a critical sector like the energy sector has suffered the bulk of the backlash from some of the climate change activists causing a significant drop in investments in the upstream phase. This coupled with the Russia-Ukraine war has caused a major challenge for the energy sector ultimately driving prices to unprecedented highs.  

But with soaring fuel prices globally, developed countries are resorting to up their coal production to fix the energy gap caused by sanctions on Russia. Coal is considered the dirtiest fossil fuel.

In July, Germany cleared plans to reactivate decommissioned coal-fired power plants. Britain intends to delay the closure of its coal plant. While in other countries like Austria, Netherlands Colombia France, coal is the only quick fix to fuel crises as the war between Russia and  Ukraine continues.

Regardless, The Paris Agreement obliges every country to come up with initiatives and interventions to minimize emissions according to individual country resources and capabilities. These would comprise the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), also called the national climate plans. In the NDCs, countries communicate actions they will take to reduce their Greenhouse Gas emissions in order to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement.  

Countries also communicate in the NDCs actions they will take to build resilience to adapt to the impacts of rising temperatures.

Accordingly, as an example, Uganda’s NDCs focused on Agriculture and Livestock,  Forestry, Infrastructure, Water, energy, and Health to infer that, it is a combination of the different sectors and the measures therein that will help the Country achieve carbon neutrality.  

Another example is Chile which adopted electrifying transport as one of the approaches to attain neutrality, aiming for 80 percent of the transport sector to be electrified by 2040. 

In looking at the global climate change crisis, it is important that all sectors are considered and not just the energy sector which has been the biggest target for most climate change activists. We need to consider the sum total of a wide spectrum of activities that would help to reduce sufficient amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Tracking progress …

Since 2015 when the Paris agreement was arrived at during COP 21, in Paris, countries have embarked on low carbon solutions and new markets. In the Paris Agreement visibility is pronounced in the transport and power sectors, creating new business opportunities for the early birds. The development of electric cars, solar energy, geothermal and technologies to trap carbon dioxide is in offing.

In Africa Eswatini, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda have National Climate Change legislations to curb carbon emissions. As part of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDS) and  Commitments Countries already submitted long-term goals for greenhouse gas emission development strategies.

In the European Union (EU), a law requiring new cars sold in the EU to emit zero carbon dioxide from 2035 shall soon be enacted. That law will make it impossible to sell combustion engine cars. When finally enacted, the law will require manufacturing industries to invest in production lines that are cleaner. EU’s target is to reduce emissions by 55% combustion.  

The Aug. 16 signing of the bill, which passed both the U.S. Senate and House along party lines earlier this month—all Democrats supported the bill, while Republicans voted against it—provides almost $400 billion to fund energy and climate projects. The bill, a $740 billion package in total, is considered the most significant U.S. investment ever to combat the effects of climate change, with a goal of reducing carbon emissions—mostly from power generation and transportation—by at least 40% by 2030.

Long term strategy 

Under the Paris Agreement, countries established an enhanced transparency framework (ETF), which provides for a reporting mechanism starting in 2024. Countries shall be reporting transparently on actions taken and progress in climate change mitigation, adaptation measures, and support provided or received. It also provides for international procedures for the review of the submitted reports.  

The information gathered through the ETF shall be used to track progress toward long-term goals, which is expected to lead to recommendations for countries to set even more ambitious plans in the next round.

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