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Help grassroots use their powers in climate action

Members of Mikoko Pamoja, Swahili for 'mangroves together', plant mangrove trees in the beaches of Gazi Bay, in Kwale county, Kenya on June 12, 2022. [AP Photos]

A marginalised community somewhere in remote Baringo County is making it to the headlines for suing the government over climate inaction. The 66 in the suit were victims of flooding and want compensation for general loss and damage, submerged ancestral land among others.

Further in Gabon, the Africa Climate Week was marked with a lot of resolutions emphasizing development of strategies to address climate change. Delegates, who included representatives of African governments, civil society groups, researchers and Commonwealth, acknowledging their better understanding of what ails Africa, also vowed to have refined messaging for the COP27 in Egypt and rethought ways to deal with food insecurity, carbon markets, coastal resilience, climate induced migration and conflicts among others.

This is looking inwards at the strengths available to deal with climate change locally, while at the same time demanding action from the rich nations and firms, who have caused harm by embracing unchecked fossil fuel powered development. Leaders of some nations in the Global North have been at the Climate Week in New York, themed “Getting It Done”, and where the UN Secretary General Antonio Guteress declared that efforts to limit temperatures rising to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030 were waning.

At the New York event’s opening session, attended by several rich and other nations’ heads of state, the focus appeared more on the war in Ukraine.

However, since some firms and nations that wield greater responsibility and power to tame the global warming were well represented at the New York event that ends today, it was clear to many that climate action is more a matter of intent, conscience and acknowledging that globally, people’s lives depend on actions and decisions of the elite. The bold actions in remote villages in Africa, more sober talking at the continental events and the realisation we are not doing enough at the global event, are key for public and private sector owned climate action.

The New York event pushed for “departure from gloom and doom” in the climate conversation, to success stories.

However, this coming from the event host, US, which is a target in the push for more just transition from fossil fuels, may need to be taken with a pinch of salt. But yes, thinking positively, the least contributors to climate crisis followed cue, and showcased their elaborate climate crisis solution models.

Rwanda presented plans to have tax exemptions on solar power materials and connect thousands of households in rural areas to solar power by 2030. This will tackle energy poverty and reduce cost of electricity.

Eritrea vowed a big shift to renewable energy and substantial reduction of its dependence on imported fossil fuel. It will use solar, wind and geothermal energy to achieve the goal.

Others were Morocco, with bigger investment in sustainable agriculture; and Papua New Guinea, whose model focused on addressing deforestation, which together with forest degradation, have been blamed for up to 90 per cent of the country’s total carbon emissions.

There is need for more candid and insightful conversations on the means through which we can achieve substantial, sustainable and effective climate action. More action should come from elite businesses and countries recolonising poor countries through lucrative fossil fuels projects. Insurance firms and banks must also choose sustainability over quick profits and discourage investment in fossil fuel projects.

In the meantime, let’s embolden affected grassroots communities to be part of the climate action.

The writer is interim communications manager at GreenFaith. [email protected]