Climate and Environment Local

African Nations’ Dilemma: Carbon Credits and Energy Transition

Innocent Kiiza is an Enviromental Investigative Journalist with passion for Climate Change, Water and Wildlife.


As world leaders convene for COP28 in Dubai, discussions surrounding carbon credits intensify. This mechanism, designed to curb global warming, has raised concerns, especially for African nations like Uganda.

European Pressures and Promises Unfulfilled

European nations, often identified as major polluters, are pushing African countries to endorse carbon credit agreements. Notably, during COP26 in Egypt, promises of $100 billion annually were made to facilitate Africa’s energy transition. Yet, Uganda and others await tangible actions.

Understanding Carbon Credits

Jane Seruwagi Nalunga, Executive Director of SEATINI, offers insight into carbon credit dynamics. Contrary to aiding Africa, she claims these credits predominantly benefit developed nations. The crux? While Africa is tasked with carbon sinking planting vast tracts of trees to absorb CO2—it doesn’t address root causes. Disasters persist, with locals bearing the brunt while polluters profit.

Nalunga paints a grim picture of Uganda’s future, where land displacement looms large. Investors eye carbon credit opportunities, potentially exacerbating the climate crisis.

Financial Instruments: Bonds and Burdens

Nalunga also touched upon “rainbow bonds,” including green bonds meant for climate initiatives. However, these loans might place countries in debilitating debt cycles. Such financial mechanisms, while appearing green, could inadvertently trap nations in financial quagmires.

Uganda’s Energy Conundrum

A significant portion of Uganda’s populace relies on fossil fuels—firewood, charcoal, and kerosene leading to health and environmental repercussions. Herbert Kafeero, SEATINI’s Programs and Communication Manager, underscores the need for a policy overhaul.

He draws parallels with China, emphasizing its successful utilization of mineral resources for renewable energy production. Despite being the world’s leading solar panel producer, China’s prime market remains African countries.

Kafeero urges Uganda to capitalize on its mineral wealth, emphasizing the importance of a revamped legal framework to deter detrimental practices like the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism.

Educational Imperatives

A deeper issue emerges from Uganda’s education sector. Kafeero highlights a curriculum skewed towards theory over practicality. For Uganda to truly transition towards sustainable energy, there’s an imperative need for skills transfer and technological acumen.

The Way Forward

While Europe strategizes on critical minerals and the EU’s net-zero ambitions, Africa stands at a crossroads. Balancing economic growth with environmental stewardship remains paramount. As COP28 unfolds, the global community watches, hoping for equitable solutions that address Africa’s concerns.

In essence, while carbon credits offer potential pathways to combat climate change, their current framework may inadvertently marginalize developing nations. For Uganda and its African counterparts, striking a balance between environmental responsibility and economic growth is the challenge of our times.

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