Shortly after being launched into office, some members of the newly launched Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change have asked government to lower the cost of electricity as a way to reduce demand for charcoal, one of the biggest drivers of deforestation in the country.
Mbwatekamwa Gaffa, one of the members of the Committee, there is need to step up efforts to fight charcoal trade, but noted that government should start by lowering the price of electricity to make its use attractive.
“All of us here, including Members of Parliament, use charcoal,. If we cannot use electricity for cooking, how about the ordinary Ugandan?” he said.
Mbwatekamwa made the remarks during the launch of the Committee at Parliament yesterday.
During the inauguration of the committee, members threatened to review key government decisions regarding the environment, including the the planned give-away of Bugoma forest in Bunyoro and Zoka.
According to its Chairperson and Ora county MP, Lawrence Songa, they decided to take up the activation of the Tree Fund, as one of its top priorities.
At a news conference held Wednesday, August 14, 2019, the Committee, which was formed in May following an amendment to Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, Songa said: “We assure Ugandans that this Committee will, on their behalf, and without fear or favour, treat the matter of climate change as a national emergency and therefore, employ a strict code of operation that will ensure and enforce compliance with guidelines by all stakeholders and citizens,” said Songa.
Songa also pledged to oppose the proposed giveaway of Bugoma and Zoka forest reserves to an investor, who plans to grow sugarcane.
“We shall work hand in hand with other committees…to conserve our environment; Bugoma is one of our natural resources and we shall within our means, do our best, to save that forest and many others like Zoka,” said Biyika.
Parliament created the Committee on Climate Change, and spelt out its functions in the new rule 182A.
According to the amended rule 182A (1) of the Rules of Procedure;
“The Committee on Climate Change shall provide oversight on the responsiveness of Government to matters of climate change, its mitigation and adaptation,” reads rule 182A (1).
Other functions of the Committee include the scrutiny of all Bills presented before Parliament in relation to climate change mitigation and adaptation; coordinate parliamentary activities related to climate change and make recommendations to Parliament on matters relating to climate change among others.