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Mahatma Gandhi

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.

Chris Maser

What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.

Theodore Roosevelt

To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.

Kurt Vonnegut

I really wonder what gives us the right to wreck this poor planet of ours.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

To be poor and be without trees, is to be the most starved human being in the world. To be poor and have trees, is to be completely rich in ways that money can never buy.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Issues of Eucalyptus Plantations

Photo Credit: Kateregga Dennis
It was estimated that in 1989 world wood consumption was around 4,560 million m3    most of which was from non-sustainable sources.  A projected consumption of 2010 was at 6,860 million m3 which meant further loss of natural tree cover leading to desertification.  There are indigenous species that can be used to control desertification but they are a difficult to establish. Fast growing species like Eucalyptus have been a quick fix, in producing firewood for charcoal reducing the rate at which vegetation is being cleared for firewood. An estimation of 25 million ha of fast growing trees are needed to satisfy the demand for fuel wood in Sub Saharan Africa.

Eucalyptus has been planted indiscriminately, where there is competition for land, water or nutrients that has brought a few problems including; the reduction of natural forests depriving the people of their benefits; it has promoted soil and nutrients loss; it has reduced hydrological values when water resources dry up; it causes biodiversity loss; it is allelopathic to crops. It should be noted that replacing a natural forest ecosystem with eucalyptus will have grave effect on fauna adapted to the previous environment. The Eucalyptus trees grown are often attacked by disease and insects. Chemicals are used which include pesticides, which have killed herbs, shrubs and grasses near or around the trees. These agrochemicals have polluted land and waterways, as a result crops and livestock have been lost. Decomposing Eucalyptus leaf and Pine needles in tree plantations have reduced soil pH.

Research done in Kenya showed that forests carbon sequestering is more in biomass and soil than 50 year old plantations of fast growing species (Cupressus, Pinus and Eucalyptus). An article written by scientists in the Nature Climate Change in 2013 concluded that replacing natural forests with plantations to create sinks for climate change mitigation is false, because you cannot account for the carbon lost from the destroyed natural forest. The underground stems, bulbs and roots store huge amounts of carbon dioxide, but when they die after being deprived of water and light by the tree plantations (Cupressus, Pinus and Eucalyptus) they decompose and release methane which is more potent than carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Tree plantations have led to sawmill boom, they emit several gases such as Nitrous oxides (NOX), Carbon monoxide (CO), Sulphur oxides (SOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC).  Polluted water from the sawmills ends up into the soil, surface and ground water. 

By Kateregga Dennis, BA(ECON), Dip.IEL, Consultant

Friday, 18 November 2016

Ugandan Flowers

Photo Credit: UFEA
Commercial flower farming started around 1992 and it was as result of the decline in volume and value of traditional cash crops i.e. cotton, coffee and tea. The Uganda Flower Exporters Association (UFEA) says that about 178 hectares of land is used by the flower industry where 145.5 hectares (roses), 30.5 hectares (chrysanthemums) and 2.1 hectares (plants and foliage). There are more than 19 companies some are foreign owned, joint ventures and locally owned. Most of them are located near Lake Victoria and near the airport.

Wetlands are targeted by most of these companies like the Lake Victoria Lutembe Bay was targeted and reclaimed by Rosebud LTD for flower growing. Little was done by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the government. May be the government does not understand their functions to the ecosystem, that is a topic for another day. But the United Nations (UN) estimated that the global value of wetlands at $15 trillion and some of the functions include climate regulation.
Rose flowers are attacked by aphids and insects. In order to have good yields these pests need to be controlled and it is done through the use of chemicals. For that the flower industry has hit the charts for the most chemical intensive industry in Uganda, polluting the environment and human health. Although UFEA and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries believe the quantities used have no alarming threat to the environment. In 2002 Global Pesticide Campaigner did a study in Costa Rica which revealed that over 50% of respondents had at least one symptom of pesticide poisoning. The chemicals used end up in the soil and ground water, which are absorbed by plants which are consumed by man and animals. For those sprayed on the flowers end up in the atmosphere.

Chemicals used by flower companies were banned internationally like Methly bromide which is ozone depleting. The Montreal Protocol recommended to be phased out completely by 2005. Endosulfan which was banned under recommendations from Stockholm Convention is persistent in the environment. Greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to climate change are generated during the production and transportation of flowers to the consumer. Uganda exported about 6.7 million kilograms of roses in 2013 up from 6.4 million kilograms in 2012, there has been an average annual growth of 20% over the past 8 years (UFEA Data). The concern is on the amount of carbon emitted by the aircrafts that carry the flowers to Europe every day. 

By Kateregga Dennis, BA(ECON), Dip.IEL, Consultant

Friday, 21 October 2016

Uganda’s transport sector and climate change


Uganda is a land locked country, served by rail, air, road and inland water transport. The majority of people travel by foot and road public transport.  All sectors depend on the transport sector directly or indirectly. Since independence the transport sectors have been attracting one of the largest share of the budget, in financial year 2012/2013 the transport sector was allocated UGX 1.651 Billion. In financial 2015/2016 the works and transport sector received UGX 3.3 Trillion and coming financial year 2016/2017 it is poised to receive UGX 3.8 Trillion, while sectors of water and environment UGX 519 Billion and agriculture UGX 633 Billion. Which are attached to nature and are key sectors in the economic development of Uganda.  

Uganda’s road network supports the movement of around 95% of its goods and people. The Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) stresses the need to have a good and maintained road transport infrastructure in order to boost household incomes, crop production and accessibility to markets. The 10-year Road Sector Development Program (RSDP) that started from 2001 was estimated to cost $2.28 billion. There are consequences in implementing PEAP through RSDP which include vegetation clearances where grass and trees are cleared during widening & re - aligning of road sections, construction of camp site, opening up of borrow areas, construction of access routes. Old vehicles and equipment are used which use leaded fuel and they are not serviced regularly this has increased equipment and vehicular emissions. Road construction in areas which are rich in mineral resources lead to an exploitation rush, which has negative human and environmental impacts.

Emissions from vehicles are the major source of pollution in Uganda. Where 100% and 80% of petrol and diesel are used respectively, petroleum products are responsible for about 75% greenhouse emissions.  This has led to a compound temperature increase across the country. There has been an increase in occurrence of erratic rainfall, floods, storms and droughts, due to such events a negative effect on economic development has been felt in the country.

According to reports by the Uganda Energy Sector (2007) and United Nations World Water Development (2006) they estimated UGX 120 Billion annually to be lost due to water related climate change disasters, while transport related incidents were estimated at UGX 50 Billion annually. In 2007 the northern and eastern parts of Uganda were hit by floods, the hardest hit district was that of Amuria, where roads, bridges, crops, lives and buildings were destroyed.

By Kateregga Dennis, BA(ECON), Dip.IEL, Consultant

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

EAC reacts to the Paris Agreement ahead of Marrakesh

Photo Credit: Kateregga Dennis
The East African Community is composed of 6 countries with the newest member South Sudan that are economically, socially and culturally integrating as way of improving the wellbeing of its people. Agriculture is the largest sector in the region which is rain fed and its vulnerability to climate change is high. Making the issue of climate change very important to the region. A climate change policy has been developed to foster sustainable development through well organised mitigation and adaptation strategies. 

it was agreed to limit the global temperature below 2° Celsius and further to 1.5° Celsius. Where developing countries in the EAC were expected to develop a low carbon sustainable development strategy.  Keeping temperature below 2° Celsius should be the main priority of developing countries in the EAC community as most of its economic activities are climate change sensitive. The above to be achieved the burning of fossil fuels should cease by 2030 world over.

Stock - taking
This will be done every 5 years starting 2023 and in 2018 hold negotiations on how to direct efforts of parties in relation to progress towards the general carbon emissions reduction. This requires developing countries like EAC to submit National Determined Contributions (NDCs).  Developing countries want stock – taking to be overall while developed countries want it to be the aggregate.

A $100 billion a year worth of climate change financing sourced by developed countries for developing countries by 2020 with further financial commitment by 2025. Climate financing is giving hope to developing countries who are adversely affected by climate change yet do not have the resources to address the effects. There is need for the developed countries to share the resource burden as the problem (climate change) caused by them is being shared. This should help the EAC in its mitigation and adaptation strategies.  The Paris agreement was not binding and it did not show each individual country contribution, the $100 billion a year is not enough.

Paris agreement supports the strengthening of adaptive capacity and reduction of climate change vulnerability. It points out technology as an important tool in the implementation of adaptive actions. Using climate safe technology and capacity building in developing countries (EAC) will improve resilience to climate change.  The EAC countries are past mitigation any effort to promote adaptation is good news when they want to industrialise. Adaptation requires technology transfer which needs funds in order to have an impact on climate change.Global goal on adaptation is voluntary with no monetary or legal obligation which means developed countries can shift positions depending on their interest.

Loss and damage
Minimizing and averting loss and damage brought about by climate change was an important topic during the Paris agreement. They identified how developing countries can be assisted through Emergency preparedness, Early warning systems, Climate risk insurance. The agreement did not hold developed countries accountable which developing countries (EAC) feel are responsible.   EAC countries think that loss and damage can be dealt with at national level this will help to minimize the negative social and economic impacts.

There is a general consensus that climate change awareness should be at the forefront and more discussions at national level in all EAC countries.  Lack of transparency by policy makers and climate change negotiators and there is belief that developed countries wont honour their financial pledges. The EAC countries believe that forestry, energy, manufacturing and agriculture are their priority sectors and more should be done about them. 

By Kateregga Dennis, BA(ECON), Dip.IEL, Consultant

Monday, 15 August 2016

Trade liberalization and climate change

Trade has been expanding in terms of volume for the past 50 years, and in this time it has been faster than the 19th and 20th century put together due to technological change and liberalization.  This liberalization of trade has increased the number of countries taking part in international trade, where developing countries contribution has doubled to 34% since the early 1960s. A study to examine the environmental impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) broke down the effects into three (scale, technique and composition).

The scale of greenhouse gas emissions will increase as of the result of expanded level of economic activity, this can be viewed in the increase in the value of production, increase in energy use like fossil fuels and cross border transport. In 2004 transport contributed about 23% greenhouse gas emissions, where 74% came from road, 8.6% from marine and 12% from air transport (International Energy Agency).

Liberalisation will lead to improvements in the production process of goods and services, where emissions will be reduced during production. This will increase the availability of less emissions goods and services thus pushing their prices down. Incomes tend to increase in those liberalized countries, making them demand for lower greenhouse gas emissions goods thus reducing on greenhouse gas emissions in those countries.  

The composition will be affected by liberalization resulting to the expansion and contraction of some sectors. The level of greenhouse gas emissions will depend on whether the emission intensive sectors are contracting or expanding. Comparative advantage will determine the level of greenhouse gas emissions, if the comparative advantage is in less emission intensive sectors then greenhouse gas emissions will be low. Cases where a country has stringent environmental protection measures, liberalisation will push those sectors to relocate to countries with weaker regulations, this has put developing countries like Uganda at the receiving end. Cases where a carbon tax is imposed on energy intensive industries that sector would contract but that is not the case where subsidies and exemptions are given by their governments especially in developed countries.

In the above scenarios you will notice that composition depends on the comparative advantage of countries, while technique and scale work in opposite directions. Emphasis should be put on the technique effect to mitigate climate change.

By Kateregga Dennis, BA(ECON), Dip.IEL, Consultant

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