COMMENT: By Sophie Makame & Peter Blomeyer
Germany, France applaud Uganda’s role in global effort to reverse climate change
This week, Europe is celebrating the climate diplomacy week. This time last year, a feeling of anxiety mixed with excitement was in the air as government delegations, parliamentary commissions, and civil society organisations were getting ready for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris.
On December 12, 2015, excitement supplanted apprehension. For the first time in history, states from the four corners of the world chose to put aside their political and economic differences to commit collectively to reduce greenhouse gas emission in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C: the 196 parties to the conference had officially adopted what is called the Paris Agreement. In contrast to previous unsuccessful negotiations like in Kyoto in 1995 or Copenhagen in 2009, they proved their willingness to cooperate for climate change.
On April 22 another momentous event occurred: 174 heads of States and the European Union (EU) attended a high-level ceremony in New York to officially sign the Paris agreement, opening the one-year period during which states parties will be given the opportunity to ratify the treaty.
Two weeks ago, China and the United States of America proclaimed the ratification of the COP21 Agreement. This was a landmark decision as these two countries account for around 40% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Of the 180 countries which have signed the Paris Agreement, 26 countries have already submitted their ratifications instruments.
Today, one can make the ambitious yet reasonable assumption that by the end of the year more than 55 parties; accounting for at least 55 percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, will have ratified the agreement either by acceptance, approval or accession, turning the Paris Agreement into a binding and decisive international framework for environment protection.
In less than one year, enormous progress has been achieved; and as we stand together against climate change, sustainable development has become not merely a dream but an achievable and desirable objective.
In this context, France and Germany wish to reaffirm their commitment to the agenda of COP21 for the preservation of bio-diversity, the mitigation of the negative effects of environment downgrading and the adaptation to global warming. We believe that fighting for the protection of the environment is an opportunity to unite our strength and build a future which will be both inclusive and sustainable. We will combine our efforts to those of the international community to foster socio-economic progress, better standards of living, equality, and justice.
It is, therefore, with delight that France and Germany have welcomed Uganda’s decision to submit its ratifications’ instruments to the United Nations soon. On repeated occasions, Uganda has demonstrated its ability and willingness to foster economic and social progress of people in the East African region, in Africa, and in the world.
Acknowledging that Uganda’s biggest challenge is to adapt to global warming, France and Germany have been willing to endorse the various engagements of this precious and trustworthy partner.
For example, through the programs coordinated and financed by the AFD and the KfW with the dedicated support of the European Union, France and Germany are actively promoting the production and distribution of renewable energies such as hydropower in Uganda. By smartly investing today in favour of green technologies, tomorrow we shall collect the fruits of our genuine and creative commitment to a better future.
Beyond the actions undertaken within the framework of the Paris Agreement, France and Germany together with the support of the European Union have been taking the lead to develop further initiatives also favouring climate change’s adaptation and mitigation such as the African Initiative for Renewable Energies and S4ALL (Sustainable Energies for All) .
The desire of our two countries is to spread global awareness about climate change and side by side implement innovative solutions to this global challenge. Together with domestic and international partners, governments and civil society, public and private sectors, we aim to avoid, minimize, restore and offset the impact of human activity on biodiversity and ecosystems. France and Germany have the strong intention to implement a low carbon strategy in accordance with the COP21 agreement and reconcile economic growth with environment protection. Our goal is to develop a resilient economy where the appetite for short-term earnings will go hand in hand with the quest for long-run profits.
Yes, the clock is ticking but with regard to the recent commendable efforts made during this last year, we are filled with hope that even greater progress in tackling climate change will be accomplished – thanks to innovative, sustainable and inclusive solutions. It is left to all of us to make this dream become a reality.
Sophie Makame is the Ambassador of France to Uganda and Peter Blomeyer is the Ambassador of Germany to Uganda.