Climate change fight: Uganda Baati, NFA to plant 40 hectares of trees

Uganda Baati Limited (UBL), a member of the Safal Group of Companies and Africa’s pioneer manufacturer of building solutions, has signed an MoU with the Government of Uganda’s National Forestry Authority (NFA) in the climate change fight to replant 40 hectares of indigenous trees across the country to culminate to 10 hectares per region (Central, East, West and North).

The trees shall be planted in the areas of Bajo Central Forest Reserve – Kayunga District, Namatale Central Forest Reserve – Sironko district, Lokiragado Central Forest Reserve – Arua and Mubuku Central Forest Reserve – Kasese district

The launch of this partnership was witnessed on November 2, 2022, with a tree planting exercise at Bajo Forest Reserve in Kayunga district that will restore the first ten hectares of forest cover.

The staff of UBL and NFA pose for a photo

Current statistics by NFA show that the country is likely to lose all of its forests in the next 25 years. The repercussions of these actions are clear to see. Besides the landscape almost being completely devoid of trees, the dry season has become longer and filled with more droughts. The loose soil has caused heavy rainfall to turn into deadly floods, while crops are producing less and less yield.

Representing NFA Executive Director Mr Tom Obong Okello, NFA Director of Policy revealed that Uganda’s forest cover in the 1900s was at 53%, but by 1990, it had reduced to 24% and by 2017, it was at 12%.

 “Between 1990 and 2017, Uganda had lost over 2.4 million hectares of forest cover. In 2019, there was a slight recovery in forest cover to 13% and the collaboration between Uganda Baati and NFA under the corporate forest restoration initiative, is a step in the right direction, we thank the leadership of SAFAL group and Uganda Baati for the continued partnership to combat climate change” said Okello.

In addition, UBL also recently collaborated with Uganda Hockey in the score a tree campaign where a tree is planted for each goal scored throughout the season. NFA has identified 5 hectares within Mabira Forest where this partnership shall focus its restoration activities this year.

Speaking at the launch of the partnership, UBL Board Chairman Dr Alan Shonubi revealed that they believe that environmental protection is the only way to protect the future.

‘We will, therefore, continue to support such partnerships and promote solutions that will safeguard the environment for future generations,” he said.

He further emphasised the company’s commitment to leading the way in reducing the impact of climate change.

“We believe that environmental protection is the only way we can safeguard our future. The situation will get worse if we do nothing. But we can do something about it before it is too late and as Uganda Baati, we shall continue this agenda in partnership with the Government of Uganda,” said Shonubo.

On his part, UBL Business Head Mr George Erodi noted that climate change is one of the most pressing paradoxes at the moment.

Business Head/CEO  at Uganda Baati Limited Mr George Arodi
Business Head/CEO at Uganda Baati Limited Mr George Arodi

“Climate change is one of the most pressing paradoxes of our time. As we strive for industrial growth as a responsible organisation, we are cognizant of the fact that we need to safeguard Uganda from additional threats of climate change. Initiatives such as this one today are an important step in this journey. No matter who we are or where we are, we must play our part and every tree counts,” he said

He noted that UBL deeply cares about the people and communities they operate in and live by the values of being a responsible and involved corporate citizen.

“The Company is guided by four key focus social investment pillars that include:  Environment, Shelter, Health and Education. Today’s event falls under the Environment pillar and this initiative will contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) specifically SDG 13 (Climate Change) and SDG 17 (Partnerships),” he said.

Tree planting taking place to fight the climate change
Tree planting taking place to fight the climate change

Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent and according to the 2022 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) report, the world is on the brink of a climate catastrophe, and the window to avert it is closing rapidly. Increased heat waves, droughts and floods caused by climate change are already affecting billions of people around the world and causing potentially irreversible changes in global ecosystems.

Goal 13 calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. It is intrinsically linked to all 16 of the other Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To address climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

In December 2015, 195 states signed up for the Paris Agreement. This is the most important pact for international cooperation on tackling climate change, and countries are taking steps to deliver on it. The UK, Norway, France and New Zealand are some of the countries that have legally committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

In 2020, concentrations of global greenhouse gases reached new highs, and real-time data point to continued increases. As these concentrations rise, so does the Earth’s temperature. In 2021, the global mean temperature was about 1.11 ± 0.13 °C above the pre-industrial level (from 1850 to 1900), making it one of the seven warmest years on record (2015 to 2021) according to the report.

The report further reveals that in 2020, social and economic disruptions caused by COVID-19 lowered energy demand around the world. As a result, global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions declined by 5.2 per cent in 2020 – the equivalent of almost 2 billion metric tons, the largest decline ever and almost five times greater than the 2009 drop following the global financial crisis. But it was only a reprieve. With the phasing out of COVID-related restrictions, demand for coal, oil and gas increased. Consequently, energy-related CO2 emissions for 2021 rose by 6 per cent, reaching their highest level ever and completely wiping out the pandemic-related reduction seen in 2020.

To limit warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, as set out in the Paris Agreement, global greenhouse gas emissions will need to peak before 2025. Then they must decline by 43 per cent by 2030, falling to net zero by 2050, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body responsible for assessing the science related to climate change.

In response, countries are articulating climate action plans to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts through nationally determined contributions. Developed countries have jointly committed to mobilizing 100 billion dollars per year by 2020, further extended to 2025, for climate action in developing countries.

According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), developed countries have likely fallen short of that promise. Climate finance provided and mobilized by developed countries totalled $79.6 billion in 2019, up from $78.3 billion in 2018. Forward-looking scenarios by the OECD estimate that the $100 billion target will not be met until 2023.

While the $100 billion annual commitment according to the UN is considered the bedrock of international climate finance, it is far below estimates put forth by the IPCC. The IPCC has estimated that $1.6 trillion to $3.8 trillion will be needed each year through 2050 for the world to transition to a low-carbon future and avoid warming exceeding 1.5°C.

Ms Vanessa Nakate a renowned climate activist says climate change is more than statistics, it’s more than data points and net-zero targets rather it is about the people who are being impacted right now.

She believes that there needs to be a separate fund to help people recover the loss and damage they suffer from the consequences of the crisis. 

“These are some of the injustices of the climate crisis – those who didn’t cause the climate crisis, those who aren’t responsible for the rising global emissions – they’re the ones on the frontlines. They’re the ones whose voices are not being listened to. And they’re the ones who don’t get climate finance for mitigation, or adaptation, or finance for loss and damage,” says Nakate.

According to United Nations estimates, making infrastructure more climate-resilient can have a benefit-cost ratio of about 6:1 meaning for every dollar invested, six dollars can be saved – resulting in more jobs, improved access to education and innovation, a better quality of life and equality opportunities to prosper.

Business Times Uganda

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