God is not angry, man is just greedy for oil cash

Future factory plant and energy industry concept in creative graphic design. [Getty Images]

At least 30 people were killed in Uganda following flash floods in August, which saw rives burst their banks after two days of heavy rainfall.

This has become a common tale: Heavy rains, flash floods, deaths, displacement and disruption of social and economic aspects of victims' lives. Without intervention, an initially average community suddenly becomes a reference on how climate change can cause poverty. Some victims believe God is angry, like He would in the Biblical days of Noah. Sometimes the truth is told in bits.

A condolence message by President Yoweri Museveni following the Uganda disaster read: "Leaders who mislead people and encourage them to go against environmental plan should know they are answerable to God for the death of these innocent Ugandans."

The President, as reported by "daparot", pointed out the disaster as "dangers inherent in environmental degradation by cutting forests, invading wetlands, cultivating on river banks and throwing polythene bags in drainage channels".

Museveni is right on deforestation. But greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are heavily to blame for the calamities. The emissions to blame for the latest disaster are not entirely from Uganda. The problem is global.

We have spoken of temperatures in the pre-industrial period, and know well what happened when developed nations chose coal to power their industries. It has got us to these fossil fuels-induced crises called climate emergency.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament declared East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project, of which Uganda has a 15 per cent stake, unnecessary and one that will violate several human rights, including that of owning land. Several cases of disappearance or intimidation of journalists and NGOs who publicly focused on the project had also been reported.

Earlier this same week, a South African court set aside Shell and Impact Africa's exploration right to conduct seismic surveys on the country's Wild Coast in search of oil and gas. The right, it said, was unlawfully granted by the country's Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

In February, as the parties to EACOP signed a deal to start, TotalEnergies, which has 62 per cent stake, advised Uganda to allow NGOs to do their job. That would obviously help reduce the negative publicity resulting from earlier reported cases of intimidation.

An assessment on EACOP by Africa Institute for Energy Governance, Inclusive Development International and BankTrack, published last June, pointed out the same issues that the European Parliament is now citing.

The proposed EACOP project, which would be world's longest heated oil pipeline (1,445 kilometres between Uganda's Tilenga and Tanzania's Tanga port), if left to continue, will be responsible for up to 34 million tonnes of carbon emission every year, more than thrice what East Africa emits today. This will increase the region's carbon footprints, and harm humans and biodiversity along the pipeline.

In his speech during his installation this week, President William Ruto promised a just shift to renewable energy and expressed confidence that the country would sustainably rely on the same.

President Ruto should spread this gospel. East Africa can lead the way in reducing Africa's carbon footprints further by investing more in renewable energy; then champion push for funding of climate adaptation at Egypt's COP27 in November and other talks.

Truth is, God is surely watching leaders misleading their nationals to accept fossil fuels projects. The leaders are answerable to the same God President Museveni spoke of.

The writer is interim communications manager at GreenFaith. [email protected]

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