Tag: climate change

Emerging trends in regard to Global Warming: Any effective interventions in place or just rhetoric debates / workshops / seminars?

This paper briefly reviews some of the emerging trends regarding global warming, especially implications for the African continent. It then explores some of the meetings and discourses taking place internationally and within Africa on global warming and climate change that aim to tackle the crisis. It critically examines if the two largest international interventions on climate change (e.g. annual conferences/ meetings such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conferences of the Parties (COP) and the Annual G8 summits) have had any effective impacts and interventions in tackling the crisis of global warming. The paper also explores weak African representation at climate change meetings in Africa, as well as domestic political interests (nationally and internationally) that weaken negotiations to combat climate change. Ways forward to strengthen meetings for African governments to move ahead in tackling the crisis are provided.

Global warming in Africa
Global warming refers to an average increase in the Earth’s temperature, which in turn causes climatic changes. A warmer Earth may lead to changes in rainfall patterns, a rise in sea level, and a wide range of impacts on plants, wildlife, and humans. The world ocean has experienced a net warming of 0.06 degrees Celsius from the sea surface to a depth of 3000 meters over the past 35-45 years. More than half of the increase in heat content has occurred in the upper 300 meters, which has warmed by 0.31 degrees Celsius. Warming is occurring in all ocean basins and at much deeper depths than previously thought. Scientists predict that the oceans are taking up the excess heat as the atmosphere warms. Unfortunately, Africa is the continent that will suffer most under climate change and global warming. The continent of Africa warmed by 0.5 degrees Celsius during the past century, and the five warmest years in Africa has all occurred since 1988. In addition to developed industrialised nations such as the United States continuing to spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the penetration of multinational corporations from these developed nations into Africa due to rapid economic globalisation have also set up operations and extracted the continents fossil fuels and wealth while simultaneously emitting further greenhouse gases. The tragedy is that Africa has played virtually no role in global warming with the problem caused mainly by the economic activity of the rich northern industrial countries. For example, Africa’s carbon dioxide emissions, predominantly from the energy and transport industries, amount to approximately 650 million tonnes per annum, which is even less than Germany, which emits approximately 800 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The main sources are power generation from coal in South Africa (approximately 350 million tonnes) and gas flaring in the Niger Delta (approximately 100 million tonnes). The majority of African countries emit only minimal quantities of 0.1-0.3 tonnes of CO2 per inhabitant. The US produces 24% of the world’s CO2 emissions yet has only 4.5% of the world’s population.

The impacts of global warming on the African continent are widespread and have varied in African countries to experience either extreme rainfall or extreme drought. Southern Africa experienced its warmest and driest decade on record from 1985-1995. Average temperature increased almost 0.5 degrees Celsius over the past century. Extreme rains and floods have also made for a very wet summer in Africa. Since June 2007, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya have had hundreds of thousands of people uprooted from their homes, with many having died. West Africa has seen its worst floods in years since 2007, with 300,000 fleeing the earth-coloured waters of northern Ghana. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that the effects of global warming are already being felt in Africa. The IPCC’s has predicted a minimum 2.5-degree centigrade increase in the continent’s temperature by 2030.

Impacts of global warming around Africa have been devastating. Cairo, Egypt witnessed heat waves and periods of unusually warm weather in 1998. Senegal has also experienced coastal flooding due to ocean warming and sea-level rise, which is causing the loss of coastal land at Rufisque, on the South Coast of Senegal. In Lake Chad, Nigeria, the surface area of the lake has decreased from 9,650 square miles (25,000 km2) in 1963 to 521 (1,350 km2) today. Modelling studies indicate the severe reduction results from a combination of reduced rainfall and increased demand for water for agricultural irrigation and other human needs. Since the 1990’s, in the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda, the glacier area has decreased by about 75%. The ice caps on the Rwenzori Mountains have receded to 40 percent of their 1955 recorded cover and are set to disappear within the next two decades, affecting wildlife species and increasing the erosive power of River Semliki. The warming of mountainous areas will drastically affect wildlife species. The Mountain Gorilla is under threat. Equally endangered are the Rwenzori leopard and the Rwenzori Red Duiker, which usually live at altitudes above 3,000 meters, corresponding with colder climates. The dwindling of wildlife will affect tourism. Mt. Kenya’s largest glacier is disappearing with ninety-two percent of the Lewis Glacier having melted in the past 100 years. Ice on Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, is predicted by scientists to disappear by 2020 with 82 percent of Kilimanjaro’s ice having disappeared since 1912, with about one-third melting in just the last dozen years. At this rate, all of the ice will be gone in about 15 years.

Kenya in 2001 saw the worst drought in sixty years, with over four million people affected by a severely reduced harvest, weakened livestock, and poor sanitary conditions. In the summer of 1997, Kenya also witnessed a deadly malaria outbreak. Hundreds of people died in the Kenyan highlands where the population had previously been unexposed. Around almost the same time in Tanzania, higher annual temperatures in the Usambara Mountains were linked to expanding malaria transmission. In Uganda, the highlands, which were malaria free, are now invaded by the disease. There has also been an increase in malaria cases of 43 percent in Ntungamo, 51 percent in Kabale and 135 percent in Mbarara.

In January 2000, South Africa witnessed one of the driest Decembers on record and temperatures over forty degrees fuelled extensive fires along the coast in the Western Cape Province. The intensity of the fires was exacerbated by the presence of invasive vegetation species, some of which give off 300 percent more heat when burned compared to natural vegetation. Coral reef bleaching due to global warming has already occurred in the Seychelles, Kenya, Reunion, Mauritius, Somalia, Madagascar, Maldives, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Gulf of Thailand (Siam), Andaman Islands, Malaysia, Oman, India, and Cambodia. Corals are very sensitive to temperature changes and thrive within a narrow band of heat and cold. A temperature increase of one degree Celsius can trigger them to bleach. After severe bleaching, they often die. In addition to the stress of warming ocean temperatures, oceans are becoming more acidic, thus slowing coral growth and hindering the ability of corals to build their skeletons. As the ocean takes up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, water becomes more acidic. Global warming, therefore, has the potential to impact on tourism in Africa.

(For more information on climate change and implications for Africa (i.e. conflict and human rights abuse, drought, violence over scarce resources, rising temperatures and increased diseases, food insecurity and species extinction) refer to previous Ugandan parliamentary briefing: Climate change in Africa and implications for Uganda)

Meetings and Conferences – effective or rhetorical debating?
Kyoto treaty and United Nations Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conferences
Neglecting African’s interest
Africa has been largely overlooked in much of the global discourse and policy development relating to global warming and climate change. Africa as a continent itself has no official mention in the UNFCCC or in the Kyoto Protocol, the two principal documents formulated by the United Nations to tackle global climate change. The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. The treaty is aimed at stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The Kyoto Protocol the principle update has become much better known than the UNFCCC itself. With the UNFCCC Conferences of Parties (COP) meetings, the assumption is that Africa’s interests are covered as part of the wider group of developing countries. Africa’s interests, for example, were hardly noticeable in the world climate negotiations (COP13) in December 2007 in Bali. Indigenous expertise has also been neglected and normally gets little political attention. African heads of state admitted recently that the consequences of climate change increasingly need to be put onto the national and international agenda, and in Bali, they demanded a large share of the funds made available for adaptation to climate change.

In addition, while the industrialised countries have numerous experts attending meetings, African delegations are made up of one to a maximum of ten members. This has hindered African representation and presence in the numerous working and contact groups, such as in Bali and so to effectively combat climate change. If Africa is the continent that will be hardest hit due to climate changes, it would be common sense to increase African representation at meetings. Even when African governments may try to prepare for climate change meetings and debates to combat climate change, insufficient capacities remain a decisive problem. Unfortunately, there are also weaknesses in African governments making sufficient use of the African scientists’ and civil society organisations’ expertise. These two groups have now acquired more knowledge on climate policy than ever before. Unfortunately, the US one of the main contributors to climate change did not join the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 but proposed a plan with incentives for U.S. businesses to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This sets no binding agreements that would force US industry to reduce emissions, but continue with business as usual.

Climate change protests: An unfair deal
There have been numerous protests due to a lack of partnerships and strong measures to tackle climate change, with an international civil society expressing failures of climate change meetings to tackle the crisis effectively. The 12th annual global summit of the UNFCCC (COP12) in 2006 held for the first time in Africa saw 2000 people protesting outside the meeting from across Kenya. Protestors also included a group of Maasai herders, marching and demonstrating against climate change, and specifically against local impacts of drought, loss of livelihood and conflict over resources. Other concerns included climate change endangering centuries old cultures and traditional ways of life. Protestors also slammed Kenya’s environmental minister for not extracting anything meaningful from the talks and stated that delegates to the conference had failed to agree on urgent measures to address the problem of global warming.

The Annual G8 Summit
The Group of Eight (G8) is a forum for governments of eight nations of the northern hemisphere. These include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Largely echoing the 2005 G8 summit in Scotland 2005 where the summit’s outcomes were always likely to fall foul of the realpolitik of the leaders’ domestic agendas, the annual G8 summit 2007 in Heiligendamm ended in a series of meaningless statements on climate change and aid to Africa. The G8 members were also divided on political positions. The G8 has been criticised by environmental groups for failing to take serious measures to address global warming. The G8 statements are said to be non-binding, with countries like the US only ‘considering’ steps taken by other countries to reduce emissions. Not surprisingly, protests were witnessed at the summit due to frustrations to tackle global warming. Protests targeted both the G8 and capitalism. Protesters blockaded the summit for two days, forcing delegates to enter via helicopter. Protests in solidarity were also held in cities of Portland, Chicago and San Francisco. The US-led climate talks in Hawaii in January 2008 also opened amid protests pointing out Hawaii’s vulnerability to climate change.

All of these protests also signal a failure of meetings to effectively come up with concrete measures to tackle climate change. Unfortunately, G8 summit meetings have not been opportunities to generate additional momentum for solving problems at the other multilateral conferences that meet throughout the year. The G8 summit sets the stage for what needs to be done and establishes an idea of how to do it. The summit also deals with a range of complex and inter-related issues and does not specifically aim to tackle issues of climate change. The G8 continues to be sites for protests by the anti-globalisation movement opposed to the unregulated political power of multi-national corporations, and the powers exercised through trade agreements, which contribute to climate change.

Weak African representation at climate change meetings within Africa
A roundtable meeting in West Africa on sustainable finance, May 2008 hosted by the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), conducted a panel discussion on climate change and carbon financing in Africa. The session discussed opportunities and challenges arising from climate change. Although the panel meeting agreed that climate change contributes to global warming, which impacts ecosystems and human health, no effective interventions were made to tackle the climate crisis (e.g. the need to place pressure on northern countries to reduce emissions to tackle the problem effectively, Africa’s adaptation to climate change, local economic development opportunities, renewable energy as opposed to polluting industries, etc). Participation was limited to international bankers, asset managers, government officials and academics with no input from civil society representatives. Solutions to the climate crisis were thus limited to finance opportunities to achieve adaptation and mitigation. The meeting noted that The Kyoto Protocol facilitates the transfer of finance, technology, and development to counteract climate change through the mechanisms of Joint Implementation, and the Promotion of Clean Development Mechanisms. Unfortunately, the disadvantage of carbon trading is that it continues to allow developed nations to pollute without tackling the root problems of the climate crisis. The outcome is not sustainable, as most countries will benefit from free riding on other countries emission reductions. If the aim of meetings and conferences are to reduce climatic change, then CDM’s do not present an optimistic solution.

Divergent African and international interests weaken partnerships to combat climate change at meetings
Disputes over environmental discourses such as global warming and climate change should also not be underestimated. Since discourses reflect power there are many struggles for control over discourses. Discourse is a site for struggle when people get together and stakeholders (i.e. world leaders, business) can easily slip into a rhetorical mode when debating environmental discourses with no real effective interventions to solve environmental problems.

African governments have worked through a number of regional and global institutions to strengthen their responses to climate change, having attended many conferences at the African level (e.g. African Ministerial Conference on the Environment – AMCEN, New Partnership for African Development – NEPAD) as well as international level (e.g. Kyoto Protocol and UNFCCC). Besides the weaknesses of some of these initiatives, within Africa, there may be weaknesses in a united African position at national and international meetings. Within Africa, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Egypt play leading roles, but even within this small group, it is evident that the interests differ considerably. Only little is known in concrete terms about the divergences in political interests. South Africa assumes the function of a bridge between industrialised and developing countries and thereby plays a constructive role in the North-South negotiations on reduction commitments. The first reactions to the latest South African energy crisis, mining had to be reduced by up to 20 percent, indicate that more renewable energy will be employed. However, massive investments in nuclear energy and national coal production are being undertaken. Other African countries may also have different interests, e.g. with Uganda’s newfound oil reserves, Uganda has become a new focus for China to secure oil deals threatening US domination. The United States War on terror also provided justification for the invasion of Iraq, with oil said by many to be the reason behind the motive. All of these unknowing and divergent individual interests weakening commitments to combat climate change during meetings and conferences. Thus, participants may attend meetings and conferences with divergent individual (i.e. domestic) interests rather than more altruistic (i.e. global) interests creating unequal international climate negotiations. The fact that climate change is a global problem and that solutions require cooperation amongst all stakeholders means that transparency and fairness must be the cornerstone to tackle global warming.

As Kenyan Maasai leader of Practical Action, Sharon Loorrmeta noted in 2006 at the 12th Conference of the Parties (COP12) of the UNFCCC, referring to diplomats negotiations over what to do about global warming in Nairobi and ineffective measures in tackling the crisis,

“…Climate change tourists…You come here to look at some climate impacts and some poor people suffering, and then climb on your airplanes and head home”

Although the previous Bush administration refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, it is not until the US supports the treaty that international negotiations can move forward to really tackle global warming and impacts on Africa. At the US climate meeting in Montreal, 2005, the US agreed to launch a ‘dialogue’ on climate change that would specifically not involve negotiations and partnerships. However, newly elected president Barak Obama did pledge to act on climate change, and after eight years of American obstructionism, “re-engage” with the international negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, Obama has since shifted his position in global warming and will not commit the US to meet the emissions target, a cut to 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. Instead, his goal is to get back down to 1990 levels by 2020. Obama has since embraced the coal industry as part of his quest for state wide office. When he ran for U.S. Senate in 2004, he was flanked by mineworkers to proclaim that “there’s always going to be a role for coal” in Illinois. Employees of coal companies and electric utilities contributed $539,597 to Obama’s U.S. Senate and presidential campaign. Nevertheless, for any solution to climatic change, the US needs to be part of the talks and an equal partner to avoid impacts of climate change. Unfortunately, continued domestic US interest may see further challenges between world leaders in being able to effectively combat climate change and shape political discourse at meetings.

Options for governments to consider strengthening meetings:
Ways forward to tackle global warming
African nations must not be swayed by developed countries like Australia, the US and Japan to name a few who are normally stronger on not committing to reduce emission in their own countries due to domestic interest, and who normally push for non-binding agreements at meetings. Under the Kyoto Protocol, only developed countries are legally obliged to reduce their emissions. If climate change is to be truly tackled African nations who suffer the most from climatic change need to force heavily industrialised nations to commit to emission reductions. Developing countries must therefore strongly push for new binding commitments at meetings and should not be swayed to implement CDM’s which present no real solution to the climate crisis.

African governments must push developed nations to address problems of adaptation to climate change in Africa and bring local expertise to meetings. Africa is likely to suffer some of the greatest impacts of climate change despite its people having contributed among the least to the human impact on climate. At meetings it is essential that African countries push for concrete strategies that could practically help learn more about what “adaptation” means, and how to strengthen local capacity to cope in ways which brings positive rewards to local people. For this governments need to also include civil society and external experts in meetings and who have built up a wealth of knowledge on adaptation techniques and local livelihood strategies. Rather than government excluding representation, NGOs and other civil society groups can play a major role to support local action and bring knowledge to meetings by way of alternative expertise. Local representation and expertise must be included in climate change meetings.

African nations must push for renewable energy and financial assistance from developed nations at meetings to tackle climate change. African countries (and especially the developing countries under the Group of 77 and China) must push for rich countries to meet their commitment, made 16 years ago, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, with the signing of the UNFCCC to get finance and technology to the poorer countries, enabling them to act against climate change. The promised help has not yet materialised. Developing countries cannot take climate action and at the same time maintain economic development without this assistance, so finance and renewable technology must be pushed for at meetings by African leaders and civil society. The best way of stopping global warming is to gradually reduce the amount of coal and other non-renewable energy sources that we burn. The energy sector (in both developed and developing nations) needs to adopt renewable sources of power such as the use of biomass, methane and solid waste as fuel, solar power, wind power, geothermal energy and wave power. This multi-faceted approach will allow each region to meet its own power needs, with surplus energy fed back into the power grid and coal left safely in the ground. Projects fixated on carbon trading are protecting the market system of capitalism and are profit driven that serve the interest of a few. Carbon trading encourages the industries most dependent on coal, oil and gas to delay shifting away from fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developed nations. There is little incentive for redefining production processes and questioning the need for such facilities but rather a continuation of pollution via the right to pollute. The apathy of some African authorities such as in Nigeria to implement effective solutions to tackle global warming is due to government corruption and global economic opportunities (i.e. via oil infrastructure and resources). African nations need to focus on local economic development at meetings that will help the continent adapt to climate change. This will also require stemming out greed, corruption and self interested leaders.

Finally, all stakeholders need to move away from continued ‘talk-shops’ that are rhetorical in nature to actually implement positive changes (as above) that will effectively tackle global warming. Time frames must be added to meeting agreements and implemented effectively. However, this will require co-operation and equal partnerships to combat the crisis of climate change. Nation states (especially developed countries) will need to move beyond domestic interest for national profits and power, to implement internal procedures to reduce emissions, and agree to provide the necessary support at meetings to help the African continent adapt to climate change. It will be up to African governments to agree on a common framework to place pressure on the international world leaders at gatherings.

Leonard, L (2009) Emerging trends in Global Warming: Any effective interventions in place or just rhetoric debates/workshops/seminars? Ugandan Parliamentary briefing, Royal African Society, United Kingdom, 16 February.

Sharing of Wealth from Natural Resources: Experience of Developing Countries

This paper provides an overview of the sharing of wealth from natural resources in Africa. It explores the implications of this sharing of wealth especially for local communities who live next to or own these resources. It examines wealth sharing for both renewable and non-renewable natural resources. Due to the diversity of natural resources, it is not possible to cover all areas; rather this paper will explore selected examples (i.e. parks and conservation areas, forests and trees, fossil fuels and minerals). Suggestions on how African governments and local communities, as well as local and international civil society, can improve the sharing of natural resources for citizens are provided.

Africa is unarguably rich in natural resources. Natural resources are naturally occurring substances that are considered valuable in their relatively unmodified (natural) form. A natural resource’s value rests in the amount and extractability of the material available and the demand for it. Natural resources are mostly classified into renewable (e.g. trees and forests) and non-renewable resources (e.g. oil, coal, natural gas, diamonds). Some non-renewable resources can be renewable but take an extremely long time to renew. Fossil fuels and minerals, for example, take millions of years to form and so are not practically considered ‘renewable’ and for this paper are considered non-renewable.

Dozens of experts and interested parties, nearly all African, attended the sixth African Resource Bank meeting in November 2008 to focus on the important question of why Africa, blessed with rich natural resources, has failed in most of the continent to turn that advantage into wealth and increase living standards for its people. The tendency of African governments to tightly control natural resources for generating wealth serves to concentrate power and wealth in the hands of government and those who control and therefore facilitates corruption. It also fundamentally weakens the political process. Despite its vast natural resources (Refer to Figures 1 and 2 for some of Africa natural resources), people in Africa are characterised and battered by endemic hunger, genocides, wars, corruption, massive underdevelopment and all sorts of untold sufferings. For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the share of people living below US$1.25 remained static at around 50 percent between 1981 and 2005. Despite a 4.7 percentage point decline in the share of people in extreme poverty between 1999 and 2004, some 31 percent of Africans will still be living in extreme poverty by 2015. This is a far higher proportion than the Millennium Development Goal target of 23 percent. The number of people living under the US$1.25 line has almost doubled during the same period, from around 200 million to 380 million. Improving economic growth and access to basic services to enable the poor to participate in the growth process in Africa will be necessary if its rate of poverty reduction is to be brought in line with the rest of the world.

Other reasons for Africa’s underdevelopment despite natural resources are because African leaders have failed to tap their natural resources for the benefit of the general public. African governments have failed to come up with a constructive reform powerful enough to shape a better and prosperous future for Africans. The dormant international community cannot be left out of the responsibility for Africa’s underdevelopment and suffering due to historical and contemporary issues of natural resource extraction. Although Africa is rich in natural resources the overwhelming problem lies in the nature of exploitation of resources, especially by developing countries. Foreign corporations and investors make deals with repressive regimes in the country to share the wealth with an elite powerful few, thereby entrenching the dictatorships and autocratic government, or failed corrupt democracies. These rulers, their families’ friends and military supporters are enriched with guarantees of wealth in foreign accounts. However, the vast impoverished populations of these countries remain in a cycle of poverty with a lack of sharing of wealth with nationals.

Natural resources are important aspects of a nation’s power. Africa as a whole has a vast amount of resources compared with other continents and these can allow Africa to be a major force in the international arena if natural resources are properly utilised in a sustainable way. African governments are still unaware that the natural resources of each African state are a source of power for its international relations. If they even are aware of this, then their corruptive tendencies override their national interests. Rather than exploit their natural resources to solve their country problems, African leaders have opted for foreign aid that has plunged the continent in abhorrent debts. This has in most cases not resulted in the sharing of resources with the local communities who live next to and own these natural resources.

The African experience of sharing of wealth from natural resources
Renewable natural resources:

Parks and conservations areas
The history of renewable natural resource plundering by developed countries continues to exhibit impacts today on African nations by tourist operates and African governments who advertise parks and conservation areas for tourism. These have had no benefit for locals even today. For example, in 1905, the native African populations in Tanzania living in the Selous area were forced by colonial masters from their homes and villages were burnt down. About a third of the local population (300 000) died, and as a result, the groundwork was laid for the creation of the Selous Game Reserve. Images of nature in Africa have been crafted to appeal to European preconceptions of Africa as a virtual ‘Garden of Eden’, innocent of the ills of modern civilisation, rather than as a complex and changing environment in which people have actually had to live. To the present day, Africa is still presented in such Edenic terms of its parks. Parks such as the Selous, Serengeti and Arusha in Tanzania are marketed to western tourists as nature in its ‘true’ form. For example, the Selous Game Reserve is promoted by safari operators as being undamaged and unspoilt. Besides serving the interest of the safari operator and the revenue goals of the Tanzanian national government, it has nothing to do with the Selous history. If the Selous, like many other reserves and parks, appears to be ‘wild Africa’, it is the product of extermination and removal of its people by deliberate European strategy in the twentieth century. Unfortunately, the profits generated from these marketed game reserve’s are not shared with local populations who once lived on these lands, which belong to them. Even London-based travel to Tanzania tourism company, Tanzania Odyssey, market the country’s parks as Edenic and generate profit while the locals receive nothing in return. Wildlife authorities and conservationists also seldom consider the cultural significance of natural resources locked within Africa’s sprawling game parks and reserves prior to enforcing laws that exclude indigenous communities from them. Sacred forest shrines and animal totems of immense value to the Samburu, Maasai and Taveta peoples of Kenya are fenced off and access is limited to the hordes of insensitive tourists who frequent the country’s parks.

Forests and trees
Due to climate change in developed nations, this is leading to an increase in exploitation of renewable natural resources and abuse of the local populations which own them. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) contains the world’s second largest tropical rainforest expanse. International economic forces have placed a growing demand for natural resources. Unfortunately, widespread regional poverty is still common. This lack of sharing of wealth from the rainforest is, in turn, putting poverty stricken communities to place further pressures on the forests, wildlife and freshwater areas of the Congo Basin. Current patterns of resource exploitation and infrastructure development across the region could result in as much as 70% of remaining forest being lost by 2040. Wealth extraction from renewable natural resources and a lack of sharing with locals are also on the increase as developed countries aim to secure carbon credits due to their pollution and contribution to climate change. Example, a new World Rainforest Movement report entitled ‘A funny place to store carbon’ documents human rights abuses at Mount Elgon National Park in east Uganda, where the Dutch Face Foundation has been planting carbon ‘offset’ trees since 1994. The report exposes how villagers living along the boundary of the park have been beaten and shot at, have been barred from their land and have seen their livestock confiscated by armed park rangers guarding the ‘carbon trees’ inside the National Park. Clearly, a lack of transparency, partnerships and accountability to locals will not result in equitable sharing of wealth, but exploitation of African environments and human rights abuses.

Non-renewable natural resources
Fossil fuels and minerals
The demand for non-renewable natural resources (i.e. fossil fuels and minerals) is high worldwide due to its scarcity. With the peak in the world’s oil resources fast approaching the risks of competing fossil fuel exploitation and depletion are set to exacerbate inequalities within Africa nation-states and between developed nations and Africa. Natural non-renewable resources exploitation has been a problem in African countries leading to human rights abuse of local populations and a lack of equitable resource wealth distribution. For example, Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta region has witnessed repeated armed clashes amongst local residents, dissident groups, the military and police. Fighting over wealth from natural resources in the region has claimed many lives. Shell (i.e. Royal Dutch Shell Group) and the Nigerian military government are united in their continuing violent assault of indigenous peoples (i.e. the Ogoni people) and the environment. Considering that oil reserves have also been discovered in Uganda’s Lake Albert region, it is it is questionable whether benefits of this natural resource will be shared with locals, considering that recent reports indicate that the Ugandan government has asked Nigeria for assistance in developing the countries oil industry.

Other non-renewable natural resource discoveries such as diamonds in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa have also not been shared with locals, with rebel faction groups controlling a large open-pit diamond mine in the town of Seguela. It is one of several producing diamonds estimated to be worth more than $20 million that have been smuggled into Mali and Ghana to help fund arms purchases, in violation of UN sanctions. Many central governments are unable to fully control the behaviour of their own officials and employees. With large sums of money involved, armed factions and smugglers can often pay off ministers, licensing authorities, customs officers and border guards. This leads to a lack of sharing the wealth with local populations living next to natural resources. Mbuji-Mayi in central DRC is sometimes called the “diamond capital of the world.” But the city itself is little more than a slum. Its province, Kasai Oriental, has high rates of illiteracy and infant mortality, it lacks electricity and 60 percent of its children under five suffer malnutrition. Meanwhile, a few Congolese and foreign diamond merchants display unimaginable wealth. Such inequities contribute greatly to social and political tensions across Africa, and make it easier for armed groups to mobilise local supporters. Alluvial diamonds are seen as an especially strong risk factor in predicting civil war. As documented by numerous journalistic reports and scholarly case studies, alluvial diamonds have indeed played a central role in some of the most high-profile civil wars in contemporary Africa (e.g. Sierra Leone, Angola, Congo, and Liberia). Moreover, a recent comparative study found that countries that produce alluvial diamonds had the highest civil war rate in the 1990s among resource-rich countries. Because of their strong association with civil war, alluvial diamonds have been vividly described as “blood diamonds” and the “ultimate loot.” Unfortunately, sharing of wealth from non-renewable fossil fuels extraction has been less successful than renewable natural resource wealth sharing.

Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM): The case of Namibia renewable resources
To ensure equitable distribution of natural resources, a CBNRM strategy is important for equal sharing of resources. CBNRM is based on the recognition that local people must have the power to decide over their natural resources in order to encourage sustainable development. Namibia’s National CBNRM Programme is a joint venture between Government and non-government institutions, communities, community-based organisations and development partners. The programme aims to provide incentives to communities to manage and use wildlife and other natural resources in sustainable and productive ways. It does this by promoting three closely related approaches which include a natural resource management and conservation program, a rural development program which creates opportunities for enterprise development and income generation for locals, and an empowerment and capacity building programme to assist communities and local institutions to develop skills and experience for sustainable develop and pro-actively pilot their own futures. The idea of a national CBNRM support structure emerged in the early 1990s, through the efforts of the Living in a Finite Environment (LIFE) Programme. Several partners, including the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as lead agent, NGOs, donors, local and traditional authorities and communities, agreed to initiate a CBNRM programme. According to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on CBNRM, in 2000, $3.5 million was generated through CBNRM activities, with the largest amount earned from community owned tourism. However, CBNRM is not unique to Namibia. There are CBNRM programmes in most southern African countries, including CAMPFIRE in Zimbabwe and ADMADE in Zambia. Although each country has worked out its own model for CBNRM, all of them are based on the idea that a resource is likely to be used in a sustainable manner if it is seen as valuable, and if landholders have the exclusive rights to use, benefit from and manage the resource.

Ways forward to improve sharing of natural resources in Africa
Africans and their international partners are focusing increasingly on ways to break the links between conflict and natural wealth. Experts from representatives of African governments, the UN and other regional and international organisations, civil society groups, academics and the private sector met in Cairo, Egypt, in June 2006 to discuss natural resource conflicts. The group recommended measures to strengthen international and national controls to prevent natural resources from financing military factions. They suggested steps to reduce domestic conflicts over access to natural wealth, including “responsible, just and economically productive resource management” by African governments, with “equitable distribution of wealth to all stakeholders, in particular, local communities.” Even if governments are able to manage their natural resources more transparently and effectively, that will have only a limited impact if the benefits are not also shared more widely within African societies. Paradoxically, many areas that have plentiful oil, diamonds or other minerals are also extremely impoverished. The group strongly urged African governments and extraction industries to ensure that a greater share of natural resource wealth is used for social services and development programmes nationally, as well as to directly benefit local communities.

The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service has made a number of recommendations for redressing the imbalances associated with natural resources exploitation that does not benefit locals. Some of these have included reparations for lost resources, with former imperial and colonial powers providing compensation for the natural resources that were mined, looted and forcibly wrested from Africa (i.e. minerals, tropical timber, ivory, game trophies and products of Africa’s once-rich soils). It is insensible to talk of sustainable development in a region whose resource base has been mined to unsustainable levels by insatiable external powers. African peoples, NGOs, governments and the international NGO community should institute legal proceedings in the International Court of Justice to seek redress and compensation for these stolen resources. There is also a need to control of resource exploitation, with African countries forming Natural Resource Cartels to control and manage the exploitation of Africa’s resources and to ensure the protection of Africa’s interests via resisting attempts to globalise Africa’s biological resources.

There is also a need to review policies and laws for governing the conservation, utilisation and management of natural resources in Africa. This must include discarding those that inhibit and prohibit the control and participation of local communities in the conservation, management and utilisation of natural resources, and protecting the cultural norms of Africa’s ethnic nationalities that pertain to the conservation and management of natural resources in the region. There also needs to be a strong need for the local management of resources. NGOs and development agencies working in Africa must identify and promote community-based strategies that integrate local indigenous knowledge into natural resources conservation and management. Local people, the ultimate owners and guardians of natural resources, must be the direct beneficiaries of the income that accrues from the exploitation of resources by, sharing collected revenues from wildlife reserves through tourism; integrating them into resource management and control committees at local and national levels; eliminating middlemen and processes that reduce income from the exploitation of natural resources.

Finally, it is important that African countries rich in natural resources introduce Natural Wealth Accounts and move away from Natural Resource Rents. Natural resources generate what economists term ‘rents’ meaning profits that are much higher than the minimum level needed to keep the activity going. Natural resource rents are a ‘honey pot’ where politics comes to be about the contest for control of these revenues. This produces a politics of corruption, aided and abetted by foreign corporate behaviour and sometimes directly a politics of violence. Natural resource rents increase the risk of war is through the detachment of government because resource-rich governments do not need significant other tax revenues they become detached from their electorates. In most societies, because electors have to pay high taxes, they scrutinise the government to see how it uses their money. Natural Wealth Accounts is a system in which the income from natural resources exploitation is given directly to citizens, and which is then only partially collected by the government in the form of individual taxes. While natural resource rents seem to have corrosive effects on government, tax revenues do not. The information effect is that the proposed system equips the public with a better understanding of the government’s revenue stream from natural resources. The potential benefits of this income effect are great, especially for the poor, who would immediately enjoy a much larger disposable income.

Leonard, L. (2008) Sharing of wealth from natural resources: Experience from developing countries, Ugandan Parliamentary briefing, Royal African Society, United Kingdom, 27 November.

Climate change in Africa and implications for Uganda

This paper provides a brief overview of climate change in Africa and its effects specifically on Uganda. It examines some of the climatic change implications for the country (i.e. drought, resources pressures and local violence, rising temperatures and increased diseases, food insecurity and species extinction). Some suggestions on how the Uganda government may help tackle climatic change at the local and global levels are provided.

Climate change in Africa
Africa is the continent that will suffer most under climate change and global warming. African countries are amongst the poorest of the developing countries and are least equipped to adapt to the potential effects of a changing climate. The tragedy is that Africa has played virtually no role in global warming with the problem caused mainly by the economic activity of the rich northern industrial countries. It is important not to forget the penetration of multinational corporations from developed nations into Africa due to rapid economic globalisation; having set up operations and extracted the continents fossil fuels and wealth while simultaneously emitting greenhouse gases. Nevertheless, although Nigeria and South Africa are the main emitters of greenhouse gases in Africa, accounting for almost 90% of the emissions on the continent, Africa can by no means, compare to the emissions from the industrialised countries. Three-quarters of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), generated from human activities comes from burning fossil fuels (i.e. oil, gas and coal). There are imbalances in the sources of the burning of fossil fuels as the world’s richest countries consume over the levels of their population. The US produces 24% of the world’s CO2 emissions yet has only 4.5% of the world’s population. Conversely, India has 16.7% of the world’s population yet only produces 4% of the CO2 emissions. Figures from the World Resources Institute (2000) calculated that Africa’s 812 million people produce only 0.8 metric tonnes of greenhouse emissions per person compared with 3.9 metric tonnes per person globally. Africa has contributed less than any other region to the greenhouse gas emissions that are widely held responsible for global warming.

Unfortunately, there has been a failure of industrialised governments to help developing countries adapt to climate change. Africa has been largely overlooked in much of the global discourse and policy development relating to climate change. The continent has no official mention in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or in the Kyoto Protocol, the two principal documents formulated by the United Nations to tackle global climate change. The assumption is that Africa’s interests are covered as part of the wider group of developing countries. The Kyoto Protocol requires calls for a climate-proof model of development and massive emissions cuts to avoid possibly disastrous change. Unfortunately, the US one of the main contributors to climate change did not join the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 but proposed a plan with incentives for U.S. businesses to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This was based on fears of slowing economic growth. With the US economy already in a troubled state with looming economic collapse, it is questionable if the US will invest in and adopt measures to reduce emissions or continue polluting while leaving poor countries to face the impacts of climate change?

The hegemony of the G8 developed nations in international forums such as the UNFCCC means that global climate policy is being chosen for its compatibility with the existing neo-liberal economic system rather than its effectiveness in reducing emissions. Carbon trading mechanisms (CDMs) has been essential to this approach. It turns the earth’s carbon-cycling capacity into property to be bought or sold in a global market with governments allocating permits to big industrial polluters who then trade these ‘rights to pollute’. CDMs allow developed countries to purchase emission credits against their own reduction targets by investing in projects that reduce or sequester emissions in Southern countries. The market is growing rapidly with the World Bank valuing CDMs at US$21.5 billion for the first three-quarters of 2006, up 94 per cent on its value of $11.1 billion in 2005. However, there is no evidence that climate change can be tackled while maintaining an economic growth pattern based on the ever-increasing extraction and consumption of fossil fuels. Carbon trading encourages the industries most dependent on coal, oil and gas to delay shifting away from fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developed nations. There is little incentive for redefining production processes and questioning the need for such facilities but rather a continuation of pollution via the right to pollute. Yet for G8 countries seeking to demonstrate their commitment to climate action, these inherent problems of emissions trading are swept aside in favour of a system that sustains the economic dominance of the most powerful industrialised nations with climate changes continuing to impact on poor nations.

The increased emission of greenhouse gases and climatic change will have devastating impacts on the African continent. Climate unpredictability will lead to food insecurity and subsistence farming difficulties. The average number of food emergencies in Africa per year almost tripling since the mid-1980s. Cereal crop yields could fall between 10 to 30 percent by the 2050s compared to 1990 levels. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change will soon cause major droughts and uncertain rainfall in Africa’s sub-tropical and tropical areas. Other impacts of climate change in Africa include, temperature rises with many areas over the continent being greater than the global average with a predicted rise of four degrees Celsius by the 2080s. Temperatures could rise to seven degrees Celsius in southern Africa and eight degrees Celsius in northern Africa. Significant changes in rainfall could be experienced across the continent, especially with the area around the Sahara and in southern Africa with desertification likely to increase around the Sahara. Rising temperatures, widespread water stress, increased frequency and severity of droughts and floods, and rising sea levels will severely damage progress on development goals in Africa. Diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and cholera may increase. As many as 67 million more people could be at risk of malaria epidemics by the 2080s. About 182 million people in sub-Saharan Africa could die of diseases directly attributable to climate change by the end of the century.

Uganda, climate change and CDM projects:
Increase in conflicts and human rights abuse
Uganda, as a developing country and as a party to the Kyoto Protocol, has undertaken CDM projects, especially in the forestry sector. Despite the disadvantage of carbon trading which continues to allow developed nations to pollute without tackling the root problems of climate change, the Face Foundation, a non-profit group established by Dutch power companies, would receive carbon credits for reforesting the Ugandan park’s perimeter. The project is part of a growing trade in voluntary carbon offsets, in which environmentally concerned consumers pay to have others remove an amount of carbon equal to what they emit. Vendors earn carbon credits by planting trees, which capture carbon from the atmosphere, or by modifying existing factories to consume fewer fossil fuels. However, planting trees in Uganda to offset greenhouse-gas emissions in Europe has resulted in farmers being evicted from their land to make room for a forest. Farmers have been fighting to get their land back since being evicted in the early 1990s and have pressed their case with lawsuits. The conflict between the farmers and the paramilitary Ugandan Wildlife Authority has even reached violence with beatings and torture of farmers while the government claims that the park is a natural park. As representatives of people’s movements and independent organisations noted in the Durban Declaration on carbon trading, the carbon market creates transferable rights to dump carbon in the biosphere far in excess of the capacity of these systems to hold it. Billions of dollars worth of these rights are to be awarded free of charge to the biggest corporate emitters of greenhouse gases in industrialised nations who have caused the climate crisis and already exploit these systems the most. The costs of future reductions in fossil fuel use are likely to fall disproportionately on the public sector, communities, indigenous peoples and individual taxpayers.

Climate change implications for Uganda
People in developing countries like Uganda, whose contribution to global warming has been minuscule, are feeling the impacts of climate change first and worst. Some of these climate change impacts on Uganda include (but are not limited to) the following:

Increased drought: A cause for competition and violence over scarce resources
Climate change resulting in increased droughts in Uganda has impacted on resources leading to competition and violence over limited resources. Droughts have resulted in lowering of the water table, leading to drying of boreholes, with the rural poor and the cattle corridor most affected. This has already witnessed violence between different tribes in Uganda. The population in eastern Uganda continues to grow as the environment deteriorates, putting more and more pressure on a land that grows ever drier. With more people forced to share fewer resources conflicts between pastoral communities have occurred. Violent cattle raids are a traditional method of restocking herds among pastoral groups. The semi-nomadic Karimojong are pastoralists who protect their cows, violently if necessary. A well-established small-arms trade has also sprung out of the regional insecurity, with guns flowing in from neighbouring Sudan and Somalia. Uganda is in the process of disarming the tribal warriors, but on October 2006 an attempted cordon-and-search operation left 27 people dead, 16 of which were Ugandan soldiers, with the Karimojong village then bombed by the military killing a dozen people. Caught between a government that sees them as a problem to be solved militarily and a harsh environment that is becoming ever drier, the Karimojong face a difficult future. While Ugandan pastoralists who live in arid regions suffer, it is the Western countries like the United States which refuse to sign on to global protocols like Kyoto to reduce greenhouse gases and who are the cause of rapid climatic change and conflicts in Uganda.

Rising temperatures and increased diseases
Climate change as a result of temperature rise is already having a devastating impact on Uganda. Health patterns in Uganda change markedly with the seasons, and that applies to human, animal and vegetable health equally. Malaria, the primary killer of under-fives and pregnant mothers, increases as the rains arrive. Temperature rise has resulted in an increase in infectious diseases with malaria having increased throughout the country reaching epidemic proportions in south-west Uganda, where temperatures have risen by 0.3 degrees in a decade. The highlands, which were malaria free, are now invaded by the disease. People living in highlands have not developed immunity to malaria and are therefore more susceptible to it. There has been an increase in malaria cases of 43 percent in Ntungamo, 51 percent in Kabale and 135 percent in Mbarara, while in semi-arid areas, tick-borne diseases have become rampant because of higher temperatures. The tsetse fly belt has expanded, while meningitis and eye infections have increased. Floods also carry the worms that cause intestinal diseases to flourish. Cholera and bloody diarrhoea come with the rains, as does bilharzia. In Kampala urban area, intense rain combines with blocked drains to increase rates of diarrhoea.

Food insecurity
Increased temperatures are also affecting agricultural crops like coffee, cassava and soy and lead to the emergence of new pests. Currently, most of Uganda’s agriculture is rain-fed and thus more vulnerable during climatic variations. Food shortages and nutritional deficiencies are common in many parts of the country with 40% of deaths among children in Uganda caused by malnutrition. According to the 2002 Uganda Population and Housing Census, the country’s annual population growth rate was 3.4%, while the annual growth rate of food production was only about 1.5%. If food production levels do not increase, food shortages will become more acute in the near future. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), at least seven million people are facing food insecurity with some areas of Karamoja facing hunger. As a result, crops that once grew have disappeared due to climatic change. Most of Uganda has a bi-modal climate with two rainy seasons. One starts in March and lasts through until June, with the second season lasting from around October until about December. In the north, the country is more arid with most rain arriving in April then petering out until finishing in September. There have been big changes to both seasons with some local varieties of pumpkins, cassava and beans that need a lot of rain having disappeared. Rains are decreasing in amount, yet they fall in concentrated heavy showers and storms, leading to floods in lowlands and landslides in highlands, washing away soil and crops.

Species extinction
In Uganda, the climatic change has been in manifestation for the past 20 years. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Uganda’s rainfall has been unpredictable since the early 1990’s, with the water levels in Lake Victoria having reduced to its lowest while the ice caps on Mountain Rwenzori in western Uganda are melting faster. The ice caps on the Rwenzori Mountains have receded to 40 percent of their 1955 recorded cover and are set to disappear within the next two decades, affecting wildlife species and increasing the erosive power of River Semliki. The warming of mountainous areas will also drastically affect wildlife species. The Mountain Gorilla is under threat. Equally endangered are the Rwenzori leopard and the Rwenzori Red Duiker, which usually live at altitudes above 3,000 meters, corresponding with colder climates. Unique species of chameleon are also found on the mountains, including the three-horned chameleon, whose range is shifting upwards as a result of rising temperatures. The dwindling of wildlife will affect tourism. Wildlife-based tourism was recorded in 2004 for the first time as the country’s leading foreign exchange earner, bringing in 300 million U.S. dollars.

Ways forward to reduce the effects of climate change
Reduced reliance on fossil fuels in Uganda
With the recent discovery of oil reserves in Uganda’s Lake Albert, oil exploration will no doubt lead to further impacts on climatic change in the country (and internationally) leading to increased environmental degradation and poverty. However, Uganda must get the help it needs, to move to a cleaner and less polluting development path that does not depend on fossil fuels and that avoids the spiralling costs both to the economy and the climate. The Uganda government needs to follow the lead of the global environmental justice movement’s call to ‘leaving the oil in the soil’, to prevent underdevelopment of the world’s climate. Investment in renewable energy can avoid dependence arising from oil in Uganda and subsequent climatic changes. Research and development funds must be spent on alternative, environmentally friendly energy sources such as harnessing solar, wind, and biomass. The Ugandan government needs to tackle this immediately before it is too late. (Refer to briefing paper on Oil exploration in Africa and effects on Uganda for more details).

Moving away from carbon trading
At a meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (2007) government delegates and representatives of civil society groups agreed that given their historical and current contributions to climate change, developed countries should take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing additional financing and accelerating the transfer of climate-friendly, appropriate and cost-effective technologies to developing countries. This commitment can ensure long-term sustainable development, in particular for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Tackling climate change effectively requires a mix of interrelated policies that addressed, among other things, renewable energy requirements, automotive efficiency norms, industrial emissions regulations, and responsible management of forest, soil and water resources. Carbon trading does not tackle the climatic crisis. The effects of climate change can be mitigated through a number of ways. In Uganda, existing forests should be protected and tree planting should be encouraged (but without removing people from their lands through carbon trading which does not tackle the real causes of climate change or benefit the people of Uganda).

An alternative to corporate-led schemes such as emission trading is government regulation including taxation, penalties for polluting, and improved technological fixes such as scrubbers and filters on smokestacks. It is essential that the Ugandan government join the international environmental justice movement which is speaking out against carbon trading and tackling the root cause of climatic changes, with CDMs having serious implications for the local community levels in Uganda. The message by global justice movements is that industrialised nations like the US must make commitments to international agreements (i.e. Kyoto) to reduce emissions at home, moving away from voluntary agreements, allowing rich nations to continue with over-consumption of the world’s resources. This will require changes in within industrial structures and moving away from fossil fuels.

Improved governance and support of locals
The UNFCCC requires state parties to take appropriate legislative measures to give effect to the terms of the Convention. Uganda, as a party to the Convention, has the National Environment Act and other laws and policies that protect against climate change. These laws and policies, however, have some weaknesses in respect of climate change mitigation and it can be argued that this partly explains the persistence of some of the problems and effects on Uganda. Poor enforcement and insufficient allocation of resources to environmental concerns in Uganda both in local government and national agencies are challenges to combat climate change. It is, therefore, essential that the government focus on improving these areas. In addition, transparency in decision-making and partnerships with citizens can ensure appropriate response strategies to climatic change that are appropriate for local communities. The Ugandan government can also increase investments that focus on irrigation schemes so that local farmers continue to produce through drought periods. Early warning systems are also needed so that farmers can prepare and plan in advance for climatic change impacts. It is essential that the Ugandan government work tackle problems within the country immediately and not rely on the international market and trading systems to solve problems of climatic change. Taking action sooner rather than later would ensure that effects of climate change on Uganda and its people is alleviated and mitigated.

Leonard, L. (2008) Climate change in Africa and implications for Uganda, Ugandan Parliamentary briefing, Royal African Society, United Kingdom, 30 October.