Climate change emergency worse than COVID-19 pandemic, experts say

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Photo: Mwenda,PACJA Executive Director

Global climate change emergency has been identified as a bigger threat to humanity than the threat of the corona virus pandemic, otherwise called COVID-19.

This was the position that was canvassed by experts under the aegis of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and African Civil Society Organisations on Wednesday in Abuja during a conference that was organized to address salient issues pertaining to the threats of climate change globally.

The theme of the meeting which drew participants from numerous countries across Africa was, “the effects of climate change and strategies to mitigate its impacts on Africa’s vulnerable communities.”

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Dr Mithika Mwenda, Executive Director, the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) in his presentation, called on the international community to treat climate change as an emergency, the same way as COVID-19 pandemic.

Mwenda argued that climate change was more devastating than the COVID-19 pandemic and should henceforth be treated as an emergency like COVID-19, which he said required governments to keep the public informed in the same way they have been doing during the pandemic.

According to him, in spite of the declaration and promises by the international community to help African countries to mitigate the impact of climate crisis on vulnerable communities, the world had yet to respond to African needs on climate change.

“When COVID-19 broke out, within a short time, the industrial countries mobilized trillions and trillions of dollars to address it because their citizens were affected.

“ Before now they had been saying there was no money. The question now is, where did the money that they are using to address the COVID-19 pandemic come from?

“This clearly shows that the climate crisis does not affect them but the poor Africans who are the most hit. The climate crisis is a crisis of numerous injustice to the people of Africa.

“We want that political will from these industrial countries. They have the money but no will to deliver it to Africans,’’ Mwenda added.

The PACJA Executive Director further disclosed that the pandemic had affected the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of the Paris Agreement, a global pact aimed at alleviating the impact of climate change while building resilience of countries and communities around the world.

He explained that NDCs were national commitments aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pursuing adaptation to climate change impact.

“We want to consolidate the African position. CSOs play a critical role in representing the communities because they are more of the young farmers, producers and faith-based communities.

“Hundreds of participants from various countries in Africa have come up with strategies so that we can tell our governments the position which we want and these are the voices of the people,’’ he said.

He, therefore, charged those that caused the problem of climate change to take responsibility as agreed at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“In 1992, we agreed that because they are the cause of the problem, they will address it by helping Africans to adopt the impact of climate change, mitigate and provide sufficient finance and technology.

“All the years past, we have been having these conferences. They never did and this is the 26th conference without delivering anything. We want decisions which are going to be implemented. Implementation is very key for us,’’ he concluded.

Also speaking, Kenya’s Selina Sanou, PACJA Head of Programs, said that climate change was a global problem and so the whole world should be concerned.

She noted that not much had been done in terms of finance moblilisation, even though it was a known fact that climate change crisis affected everyone.

“Why are they doing these more for COVID-19 and not climate change, yet they are both global emergency issues,’’ she said.

Dr Robert Onyeneke, a lecturer with the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu, Alike, Nigeria corroborated Sanous and Mithika’s views, adding that climate change was causing lots of damages, hence, emphasis should also be given to climate change crisis.

Contributing, Jiata Ekele, a knowledge management and extension assistant for Climate and Sustainable Development Networtwork of Nigeria (CSDevNet), said the event was a success as the expert participants spoke with one voice, vision.

She said that the inclusion of gender issues, youth and religious bodies of Africa into the revised NDC was particularly commendable.

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