The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Dr Samuel Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, has called for urgent action to stop climate change and the clergy to prioritise tree planting.
In a message to mark the Earth Hour Conservation Campaign, Dr Kaziimba said the worst impact of environmental destruction was being felt by those who were least responsible for it, rallying the believers and clergy to plant trees at every church function.
“The most devastating effects are felt by the poor, those with no involvement in creating the problem which is a deep injustice,” the Archbishop said.
Adding: “It is now mandatory to plant trees at all church functions such as confirmation, baptism and weddings among others”.
Addressing the press on Saturday, Dr Kaziimba described man’s destruction of the environment as a sin and accused mankind of turning the planet into a “polluted wasteland full of debris”.
“We are already experiencing loss of life and livelihoods because of intensified storms, the shortage of fresh water, the spread of disease and rising food prices due to the poor harvests,” he said.
The prelate asked people to reflect on a society that lacked concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature, calling for consumers to modify their modern lifestyle by reducing waste, planting trees and separating rubbish.
The Archbishop used the occasion to revive many of the powerful issues he highlighted recently, asking the public to refuse use of single plastics and reduce the amount of plastics entering the environment every second.
“Let us switch off habits such as using plastic bags and bottles and dumping them carelessly….
Let us switch off deforestation and purpose to plant trees to make Uganda green again….Let us switch off the wasteful cooking methods that take a lot of charcoal and firewood, leading to the increased deforestation. It is time to support our mothers get access to efficient and renewable cooking technologies that will save their time, resources but also guarantee good health for them and their household. We urge our government to make these technologies affordable by exempting them from taxation”.
Dr Kaziimba also urged political and business leaders to stop thinking of short-term gains and work for the common good while taking steps to resolve the environmental catastrophe.
“As the Church, we continue to rally all God fearing Ugandans to speak out for nature and take actions for nature recovery. These are deeds that the Almighty God will reward”.
On his part, Mr David Duli, the World Wide Fund for Nature Country Director said while plastic has many valuable uses, “we have become addicted to single-use or disposable plastic with severe environmental consequences. We need to slow the flow of plastic at its source, but we also need to improve the way we manage our plastic waste”.
Mr Duli indicated that only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled, about 12% has been incinerated, while the rest — 79% has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment.
He said every small action, such as acquiring reusable water container or refusing to carry a plastic bag can make a big difference and will show that one cares about the future of the planet.
“When we make changes in our own lives, and when we share that with others, we also inspire the people around us to change and we help grow a movement that businesses that are manufacturing these plastics can’t ignore. 2021 is the start of an important decade for climate and nature action”.
Water and Environment Minister, Sam Cheptoris, said “during the next five years, government will show a new and higher level of ambition to bend the curve and restore nature for the prosperity, security, stability and well being of all Ugandans”.
However, he said protecting and restoring nature is a huge challenge and no single actor can achieve this alone.
“We are therefore grateful to WWF, The Scouts Movement and all other players who have joined the government who have rallied all Ugandans to commit to work together on finding and driving the solutions in an equitable way”.
“I want to add my voice to rally all Ugandans to at all times keep it green and clean by planting more trees, adopting the use of renewable energy technologies and most importantly checking plastic pollution by adopting the habit of reusing all plastics as opposed to the single use plastics which end up polluting our environment, water bodies and drainage channels”.
In reference to the National Environment Act of 2019, Mr Cheptoris tasked all single use plastic manufacturers to be responsible by putting up systems to collect the plastic litter that is getting into the environment.
“More sustainably, they must start to consider alternative packaging to reduce the amount of plastic entering into the environment” he said.