Uganda’s oil industry at risk

As the nation rubs its palms together in glee over the prospect of Uganda becoming an oil producing nation, the climate change lobby preaches about ending the world economy's deep dependence on fossil fuels.

Ugandas Pipe Line

"In 2021, several developments showed clearly that the petroleum industry doesn't have a future," said Romain Ioualalen at the activist group, Oil Change International.

The International Energy Agency warned in May that an immediate end to new investment in fossil projects is primordial in the world’s pursuit of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

This is the only way, it was revealed, the world will stand any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C.

At the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow held from October 31 November 13, 2021, which brought parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, it was agreed that countries will meet next year to pledge further cuts to emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) - a greenhouse gas which causes climate change.

The agreement - although not legally binding - will set the global agenda on climate change for the next decade.

"It is no longer taboo to talk about the end of the extraction of hydrocarbons during international climate summits," said Oil Change International's Ioualalen.

More recently, environmental defenders scored a symbolic victory when oil giant, Shell, decided to exit the development of the controversial Cambo oil field off Scotland saying the investment case was "not strong enough".

Uganda and other countries which view oil as a lifeline may have to start looking for better ways to boost their nation’s revenues.

"2022 has the potential to be a truly transformational year," said Tom Ellacott, senior vice president for corporate analysis at energy research and consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie.

"It's clear that sitting on the decarbonisation sidelines isn't an option" given the increasing pressure on the oil industry.

Experts believe that 2022 will see more investment in wind and solar power as well as technology to capture carbon emissions from fossil fuel power plants and factories.

Although this bodes ill for Uganda’s infant oil industry, the country may still harness its naturally fantastic weather towards wind and solar power as means to harnessing its own growth.

On top of this, the COP26 agreement pledged to significantly increase money, about a trillion dollars a year from 2025, to help poor countries cope with the effects of climate change and make the switch to clean energy.

So the prospects for Uganda’s economy are still good, but the country will have to make adjustments in a fast changing world.

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