In the recent past, the world has received its fair share of climate change disasters ranging from effects such as global warming, destructive hailstorms, catastrophic landslides to deadly fires and swarms of locusts. Ecosystems world-wide have been wrecked, human and wild lives destroyed and millions of properties lost due to the harmful impacts of climate change. Climate change is largely attributed to human activities like deforestation, burning of fossil fuels which increases the concentration of green-house gases in the atmosphere, livestock farming among others.
Some of the most recent catastrophes include the Uttarakhand floods in Nanda Devi National park, a UNESCO world heritage in India, the Amphan floods and the cyclone that hit India’s West Bengal in 2020, the fires in the Amazon rainforest that led to the death of millions of wild life, the flooding of the Jakarta metropolitan area and the landslides in West Java in Indonesia.
Drawing you back home to the pearl of Africa as Winston Churchill called it, Uganda has in the recently been marred by unprecedented disastrous rainfall patterns, catastrophic landslides in Bududa, bursting of R. Nyamwamba in Kasese district that saw countless numbers of people dead and displaced and L. Victoria busting its shores destroying people’s property and businesses.
Despite the mainstream media giving attention to climate change, quite a number of mythical tales about climate change still flood many round table discussions. Many people still subscribe to the narrative that climate change is a myth and a money-making scheme and it is this kind of misinformation that is holding back some countries from taking immediate and urgent action about climate change.
On a positive and progressive note, Governments around the world are taking action. For instance, China committed to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65% by 2030, in Denmark, particularly in Copenhagen, bikes outnumber cars and this has earned it a name, “Europe’s green capital”. India on the other hand has set targets to significantly increase its use of solar energy and has also set average fuel consumption standards for cars. Paramount to note is that the Parliament of Uganda recently passed the climate change bill that is aimed at tackling climate change once passed into law.
Civil Society Organizations are spearheading a fervent fight to hold governments and multi-national companies liable and responsible for their actions that result into climate change. Cases in point are: The State of Netherlands Vs Urgenda (2015) HAZA C/09/00456689 in which the Supreme Court of Netherlands held that reduction in emissions was necessary for the Dutch Government to protect human rights. Juliana Vs United States 339 F.Supp.3d 1062(D.Or.2018), the first of its kind in the USA in which young plaintiffs alleged that through the government’s affirmative actions that cause climate change, it violated their constitutional right to life, liberty and property and Andrea Lozano and others Vs the President of Columbia and others STC 4360-20-18, in which the supreme court ordered the Columbian government to present an action plan to reduce deforestation in the Amazon region.
In 2012, the case of Nissi Mbabazi & Ors Vs Attorney General and NEMA Civil Suit No.283 of 2012 (still pending) was instituted where four minor plaintiffs suing through a next friend on their behalf and on behalf of all the children of Uganda, together with Greenwatch sued the Government of Uganda and NEMA, claiming that government by failing to address climate change, violates its public trust duty. The Plaintiffs contend that the Government of Uganda’s inaction on climate change has resulted into loss of lives, property, livelihoods and social and political discontent and is causing a lot of harm and suffering to the people of Uganda. The situation will be worse in the future putting the lives of the Plaintiffs at peril through no fault of their own.
We must all come to the realization that human activity is the main cause of climate change. We must all be vigilant in enforcing environmental protection laws and most importantly individuals should take climate change as a civilizational wake-up call and desist from destroying their planet.
As we recently celebrated the World Environment Day with the theme “Reimagine, Recreate, Restore”, we are aware of the destruction of our planet. Climate change is here, it is real, it is happening and it should give everyone the heebie-jeebies! It is high time we took action to save our planet or leave in denial as we watch it crumble.