While presenting a paper on Media Voice and Energy Transition, Planning and Transparency, Dr Paul Bagabo, said like other African countries preparing to produce oil, Uganda will suffer the effect of energy transition.
He calls upon Ugandan journalists to prioritise promoting responsible oil production and a just energy transition from fossil to renewable energy.
Dr Bagabo, who works at the Natural Resource Governance Institute, noted that statistics show that if energy transition is fast-tracked, the global demand for oil will drop by 20% and 60% if slowly tracked by 2030.
He warns that if Uganda miscalculates while borrowing to fund oil projects, the country might face grave economic consequences.
“Borrowing to finance the oil industry can help but put the country at risk of not benefiting from the sector as expected. Funding it by itself can risk draining other sectors of the country which is a great dilemma at this moment of energy transition,” he said.
On the question of stopping oil production, Dr Bagabo said it could be unfair to stop developing countries from exploiting their oil which helped the big polluters to grow.
He suggested that the discussion should be focused on how to make countries that developed through oil exploitation pay for the pollution caused and how much those big polluters should invest in renewable energy promotion in developing countries.
“Developed countries can stop fossil fuel production by 2030 and let developing countries end it by 2050,” he said.
Adding: “The public must be made aware of the reality of climate change, its dangers and mitigation measures so that they can be able to demand climate justice from duty bearers and participate in the process of ensuring a just energy transition.
Mr Siraj Magala Luyima, the Energy and Extractive Industry Coordinator in Uganda, described climate change as a man problem and unfortunately badly affecting the human community.
He is optimistic that multi-stakeholders engagements and joint efforts can go a long way towards mitigating and addressing its effects.
On Uganda’s investment in the oil industry, Mr Luyima said it needs to consider investing at least 20% of its oil revenues in renewable promotion to mitigate the side effects on the environment and realise a just transfer from fossil fuel.
Mr Onesmus Mugyenyi, the Deputy Executive Director for the Advocates Coalition on Development and Environment (ACODE), the engagement organiser said the organisation wants to exploit media influence to fight climate change.
Uganda’s renowned environmental journalist, Mr Gerald Tenywa from the New Vision which is one of the country’s daily newspaper, urged journalists to research widely to become credible environmental reporters.
Mr Tenywa who has scooped 36 environmental reporting awards in his 21 years of active journalism spoke to inspire journalists to report on climate change.
Along with him, Mr Daniel Lutaya, from the 24/7 online media, tipped journalists to look out for funding opportunities to boost their individual and newsroom capacities.
“We need to identify entities and networks that support journalists. The sources must be correct ones to avoid compromise. By talking about climate change you talk about natural resources and directly or indirectly disrupt businesses of people who are ready to engage you legally or illegally,” he said.
Ms Diana Taremwa, a famous female freelance environmental reporter, said she has been driven by the crosscutting effects of climate change effects on society.
Mr Bob Natifu, the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Climate Change at the Ministry of Water and Environment, said the government has displayed its commitment to promote renewable energy by ratifying a number of international treaties on climate change.
The treaties include the Paris Agreement in 2015 and the Kyoto Protocol, he said.