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Climate Commissioner Defends 600 Ugandans At COP28 In Dubai :: Uganda Radionetwork

Climate Commissioner Defends 600 Ugandans At COP28 In Dubai

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Mwebesa, who is Uganda’s National Focal Point at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC) denies that Ugandans at the COP28 are on perdiem hunt or are there to enjoy.
06 Dec 2023 21:11
Coffee Time? PAU's Director of Legal and Corporate Affairs, Ali Ssekatawa, and the Energy and Mineral Development Minister, Ruth Nankabirwa at Uganda's pavilion in Dubai.

Audio 4

The Commissioner for Climate Change, Margaret Athieno Mwebesa has defended Uganda's big numbers at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai.

Mwebesa, who is Uganda’s National Focal Point at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC) denies that Ugandans at the COP28 are on perdiem hunt or are there to enjoy.

////Cue In “We are not here …..

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Recent reports indicated that Uganda had sent over 600 delegates to the conference taking place in the United Arab Emirates. Officers from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministries of Water and Environment, energy and Minerals, finance the Ministry of Energy, Finance, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs among others are attending the two-week annual climate summit. 

Entities like the Uganda Investment Authority, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda, and Uganda National Oil Company among others have delegates attending too.   

Ugandans debated on the matters across different social media platforms criticizing the government for the exorbitant expenditures on travel, allowances, and hotel accommodation. 

Mwebesa denied that while six hundred people may have been registered to travel to Dubai, it is unlikely that all managed to secure funding to travel and attend the conference. Uganda normally negotiates at the COP on three levels. 

Those include the African group of negotiators, the Least Developed countries group of negotiators, and the G77+China group of negotiators. Uganda’s delegation also has to have representations at plenary sessions where either the Ministers or heads of state participate. 

“Along those blocks, we have several thematic areas. Where we must have representation. One of them is on adaptation, the other one is on loss and damage, and we also have to have representation in mitigation negotiations, capacity building, technology development, and transfer and food systems. And what has just come on board is health” Mwebesa explained.     

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“Please support us who are down here. Fighting for our country, fighting for the least developed countries. Fighting for the vulnerable countries” Mwebsa pleaded.

“There was a negotiation where the developed countries wanted to bring in artificial intelligence. You can imagine if Uganda is not there. And other African countries are not there. What would happen? First of all, we are safeguarding our sovereignty” she explained.  

This year President Museveni unlike his colleagues like Paul Kagame and William Ruto did not attend COP28. He was represented by his Prime Minister Robina Nabanja. Whoever has participated at past COP can testify to the fact it is normally a fully packed event which can be so tiring to the technocrats representing the core ministries.

 Apart from government officials, the UN Climate Change conferences have become a must-go event for a range of NGOs especially those campaigning against fossil fuels. The youth have of recently been securing funds to attend the Conferences to voice their concerns. 

“We have had the development partners like the UN agencies supporting youth in building their capacity in negotiation. This number this category of negotiators were also brought in” she revealed. 

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“We are not just coming here to enjoy. There is a lot of sacrifice that people go through. People leave these negotiation rooms very late” she said.

Ali Ssekatawa, the Director of Legal and Corporate Affairs at Petroleum is among the hundreds of Ugandans at the conference. From the perspective of a lawyer, he explained that the first opportunity for Uganda is to have Ugandans at the negotiating table where decisions are going to impact the world over the next decades are being taken.  

“The second reason is then who are the major players. For example, the International Energy Agency is here. It is one of the most significant players in this discussion of the energy transition. So we must be there” said Ssekatawa who is at the conference to partly defend Uganda’s position on why it must produce its oil when the world wants it phased down or stopped.  

/// Cue In “ We are starting ....

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Among those at COP28 is the Uganda Investment Authority which is among others issues promoting Uganda’s products at the conference that normally attracts business leaders, the private sector, and potential investors

. Izama Angelo, a Board Member at Uganda Investment Authority is one of those at the Conference. He revealed that Uganda is targeting to get about four billion dollars from the Conference but has so far closed commitments of about one billion dollars. 

At the sidelines of the conference, Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) company. USD19 million to a new 20MW solar PV project designed to provide clean, affordable energy for one of the most remote and underserved regions in north-western Uganda. 

Uganda also used COP28 to launch its Energy Transition Plan as part of the efforts to attract some of the funds needed for the country to go green and move away from fossil fuel.