African leaders demand urgency in climate crisis management
Malawi president Lazarus Chakwera has faulted developed nations for failing to meet their climate finance pledge to poor countries, saying this was unfair as time was running out.
Chakwera made the remarks on Tuesday November 8, 2022 when he addressed the second high-level session of Conference of Parties (COP27) currently underway in Sharm El Sheikh, Arab Republic of Egypt.
His remarks follow a warning by United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres that the world was “on a highway to climate hell” because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions and rising global temperatures
In his address the Malawi leader said COP27 offered a platform for the world to deliver climate justice for the most vulnerable groups and mobilize resources for financing mitigating and adaptation efforts.
He said working as a global community was important in scaling up efforts aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change arguing nature was losing its patience on communities hence need for urgent action.
“I say we must act with urgency, we are running out of time, the key to addressing climate change is sustainable development and restoring balance to our relationship with nature”, Chakwera said.
Chakwera also challenged developed nations to live up to their 100 billion US dollar annual climate finance pledge noting their lack of commitment was derailing efforts by developing nations to effectively carry out mitigation and adaptation strategies.
He said rich countries should assist Malawi with finances to rebuild the country’s infrastructure after it was destroyed by tropical storms Ana and Gombe early this year.
“I must hasten to add that while we need financial investment to prevent climate-induced damage and loss of food going forward, it does not address the loss and damage of food that climate change is causing right now. 3.8 million Malawians have had their food lost and damaged because of climate change right now.
“We also require financing for climate-caused loss and damage of food and other assets, such as roads, bridges, canals, power stations and markets,” he said.
According to the Malawi department of disaster and management affairs – Clyone Ana alone affected over 900, 000 households.
Mary Matias, mother of six recalls the night they were hit by violent storms in Chikwawa district southern Malawi.
“People were shouting and others beating drums to alert others, by the time I got up the water was already to my waist, my house was destroyed and property damaged” she said.
Joshua Tembo – a farmer from Chikwawa says the storm swept away his maize field leaving him and his family in destitute.
Meanwhile, Tamani Nkhono an agriculture expert has told MIJ Online, that he was hopeful the summit will provide opportunity for financing adaptation and mitigation impacts in the agriculture sector.
“Climate change is causing dire consequences in the agriculture sector, the backbone of the country’s economy and millions of Malawians are being pushed into extreme poverty, I hope Cop 27 delivers on the climate justice agenda and developing nations get the financial assistance they deserve,” Nkhono said.
Yet still Kenneth Ntago, an environmental activist has told MIJ online he was hopeful the summit will provide financial opportunities for Malawi to scale up investments in clean energy, saying the current power crisis Malawi was expecting was a threat to economic growth.
“The present energy crisis is evident that we need to act and fast, Malawian industries are on the verge of collapse , we need to boost investments in renewable energy to secure the economy and keep industries running,” Ntago said.
Other African presidents who have taken to the podium have also stressed the need to solve the climate crisis with speed and ensure adequate financing for mitigation and adaptation.
African Union Chairman and Senegalese President, Macky Sall called on rich nations to honor their pledges to finance African countries vulnerable to climate change, rather than giving loans to the already heavily-indebted nations.
“Developing countries are currently funding most of their climate change projects by taking on debts, when they should be receiving funding from what we have together agreed,” Sall said in a speech. “We are funding our own adaptation efforts when we the victims, which means we are being doubly punished and we are not ready to put up with that.”
Delivering his speech on Monday, Kenya president , William Ruto said the lengthy discussions at COPs, with its stalling, delaying tactics and procrastination have hampered implementation and delivery which he described as cruel and unjust.
The demands by the African leaders come at a time a UN climate Change report released ahead of COP 27 shows that whilst countries are bending the curve of greenhouse gas emissions downwards, efforts remain insufficient to limit global temperatures to rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, CO2 emissions need to be cut by 4% by 2030 to meet the central Paris agreement goal to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius by the end of the century, in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change including, frequent and severe droughts, heat waves and rainfall.
*This article has been published with support from MESHA/IDRC grant for coverage of COP-27 by African science journalists.