- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- D.R. Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea Bissau
- Ivory Coast
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
Saturday, February 01, 2020
Give Africa a voice on climate change
The Fridays for Future movement held a press conference Friday focused on the need for the world to better recognize the amazing climate activism taking place in Africa—a continent that is already enduring severe impacts of global heating in spite of its limited contributions to creating the crisis.
Climate activists and experts joined the event via video, including Vanessa Nakate of Fridays for Future Uganda, who was cropped out of an Associated Press photo with four white school strikers while attending the World Economic Forum's summit in Davos, Switzerland last week. The incident put a spotlight on the erasure of Africans in conversations and reporting about the climate emergency.
Nakate said that "African activists are doing so much... and it gets so frustrating when no one really cares about them."
Not only do journalists and news outlets often lack African voices in climate coverage, they also fail to report on how global heating is impacting the continent. A new CARE International analysis that Common Dreams reported on this week found that nine of the 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises in the world last year were in Africa, and many of those crises were climate-related.
Muigai, who is from Nairobi, pointed out that "Africa at large is being affected by the negative impacts of climate change... A great example of the impacts of this is the locust infestation in East Africa, which will soon lead to food insecurity."
Muigai said that due to lack of quality education, some people in less developed countries don't fully understand climate issues.
The African continent, Muigai noted, is also dealing with issues like deforestation and bad energy policies that contribute to global heating. She said that "all of us, at the end of the day, will be affected by climate change."
Melithafa explained that in South Africa, where severe drought has hit crops and water supplies, people are living though climate impacts each day. Highlighting how wealth inequality factors into climate issues, Melithafa said that as the rich dig private wells, poorer residents "already struggling to make ends meet, just to get a decent meal at the end of the day," also have to buy drinking water.
Mcunu, the climate scientist, pointed to the difficulties of responding to extreme weather events, scarcity of food and clean water, and electricity demands as key issues the continent is grappling with related to the climate crisis.
"How is it that we are not being spotlighted in stories or being told in these stories?" Mcunu said. "That's the main challenge we have as a continent."
"It is said that Africa only contributes to approximately 5% of the [global greenhouse gas] emissions, yet we are the most impacted," she added. She noted efforts to raise awareness worldwide about African knowledge and adaption initiatives as well as the necessity of working with scientists on the continent to gather accurate data.
Mcunu emphasized the importance of international cooperation to not only adapt to the impacts of climate change but also prevent further global heating, particularly by decarbonizing economies.