Demand climate justice as you do human rights

St Angela School for the Hearing Impaired Mumias students performs dramatised piece on climate change during Western regional drama festivals held at Kakamega high school on March24, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Africa is one of the richest continents. Nearly 90 per cent of Arica's food security is from rain-fed agriculture, which was until a few years ago sustainable.

Poverty existed in Sub-Saharan Africa, occasioning stagnated economic growth and causing insecurity in some cases, but things were not as bad as they are today. At least planting and harvest seasons were known.

But effects of climate change blamed on the West's fossil-fuel powered industrialisation has changed the story. Where it rained in Africa, prolonged drought, flooding, including cyclones, prevail today.

The Horn of Africa has recently witnessed the worst drought in 40 years, its effects slowing achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Sadly, the same magnitude of the extreme weather events affect us differently. While Cyclone Fred kills over 200 people in Southern Africa, a similar catastrophe may not cost a life in the US, for instance. Even rescue centres and IDP camps in Africa are pathetic.

The injustice in this is that Africa's contribution to the global warming is less than 4 per cent, yet it suffers more than the true culprits. While the global South seeks justice from parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in global North, it is met with more promises than action.

Developed nations' commitment to fund Mitigation, Adaptation, and recently Loss and Damage, has yielded little action, as if we have a lot of time.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report indicates the urgency with which Net Zero must be reached. Some countries are opting for technology to hack it, yet down south, we must minimise pollution, end deforestation and ensure safety of biodiversity. In 2019, Africa countries pushed for consideration as a special case, meaning funds loaned to governments be sent as grants. That was rejected at COP25 and even after. But why?

Appetite for coal, oil and gas is growing when IPCC advocates for renewable energy. US Vice President Kamala Harris has this week been in Africa to champion women empowerment, sustainable economic development and strengthen ties with Africa, yet back home the Joe Biden government, the same with a beautiful Foreign Climate Change Fund Plan, endorsed a $8 billion oil project in Alaska. The effects of such projects, just as are those of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, will add salt to Africa's injury.

We are in a pit, and must stop digging. Climate justice requires action, support by culprits for those at the frontline of the crisis. It is human rights, as it will enable increased access to food, water, renewable energy, education, good health, more infrastructure, safer biodiversity, gender balance, increased security and more.

Today, seven of the countries' most vulnerable to climate crisis are in Africa.

African organisations must enlighten people on climate change, including opportunities in addressing the existential problem. Rich nations should stop green-washing and generously fund Adaptation, Mitigation, and Loss and Damage.

Spiraling food prices is one of the reasons Kenyans have been picketing to push the government to act more responsibly. Supreme Court Judge Smokin Wanjala recently linked banditry in the Rift Valley to food scarcity.

Last year, a community in Baringo County took the government to court for not cushioning it against harsh effects of climate change. It is government's responsibility to implement climate related policies that will help deal with the problem.

As the most vulnerable in the global South, we must demand climate justice, because it will guarantee our basic human rights.