Industrialization v the future; Is the EACOP really worth it
Climate change has been an issue of global discussion in the recent past with several reports on global warming inducing great fear for the future generation. Researchers have defined climate change as the global phenomenon of climate transformation characterized by the changes in the usual climate of the planet (regarding temperature, precipitation, and wind) that are especially caused by human activities. NASA’s definition of climate change says it is “a broad range of global phenomena created predominantly by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases to the earth’s atmosphere. These phenomena include the increased temperature trends described by global warming, but also encompass changes such as sea-level rise melting glaciers, heavier rainstorms, or more frequent drought.
It is to say the least, absurd that climate change occurs as a result of human activity in the quest for urbanization and industrialization. The growing trend of mankind selling the health and wellbeing of future generations at the expense of development should make us second guess our decisions as a country and continent at large.
Approximately 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil have been discovered in the Albertine Graben, the basin of Lake Albert, on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The proposed EACOP pipeline will be the world’s longest pipeline with a 24-inch diameter located underground running for 1,445 km in length transporting oil from Kabaale, Hoima, Uganda to the Chongoleani peninsula in Tanga, Tanzania. Extraction will take place at two oil fields: the Kingfisher field, operated by China National Offshore Oil Corporation Ltd (CNOOC Ltd), and the Tilenga field, operated by Total. Once extracted, the oil will be partly refined in Uganda to supply the local market and partly exported to the international market via the EACOP.
The pipeline will be heated up to 50 degrees Celsius (50°C) with several ground installations including; six (6) pumping stations with crude bulk heaters and power generation, two (2) pressure reduction stations, fifty-three (53) block value stations, and twenty-three (23) heating stations.
The EACOP pipeline will carry 216,000 barrels of crude oil per day and studies indicate that this oil is likely to result in carbon dioxide emissions of over 33 million tonnes each year, significantly greater than the combined emissions of Uganda and Tanzania. In addition to these frightening figures, Uganda’s environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) report states that “Since 1960, mean annual temperatures have risen by 1.3°C and annual and seasonal rainfall has decreased considerably across Uganda. Rainfall has also become more unpredictable and evenly distributed over the years. Uganda is vulnerable to increased climate variability and climate change and the severity and frequency of extreme events such as droughts and floods is projected to increase.
A country that has faced natural calamities in the past including the Bududa landslides that have continuously taken the lives of hundreds, we should be more alert and more restrictive to any man-made or self-induced calamities. The threat at hand makes one wonder what the Albertine region will be like 20 years from now. Will the locals who have since time immemorial enjoyed seasonal planting of crops still have this privilege? Shall Uganda still be the region’s food basket anyway? Or will malnutrition and hunger be the status quo?
The situation in Tanzania is not any different as the Tanzanian ESIA mentions that the pipeline will pass through several regions that receive little rainfall and are already water-scarce further threatening the water availability.
A region that has been blessed with an equatorial climate is putting the livelihoods of the future generations at risk. With a projected increase in drought and food security, is the construction of the EACOP really worth it? The enormous income inequality is undisputed as the locals who solely rely on agriculture will have a disrupted livelihood at the expense of ‘urbanization’ and at the expense of investment and profit repatriation by the foreign companies involved. Will the alleged development actually improve the wellbeing of Ugandans?