By Babatunde Akintunde
As deliberations continue at the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference, otherwise known as COP26, young African climate activists and campaigners have called on leaders of developed countries to take action and not let this year’s gathering become a mere talk show.
Africa has been identified as one of the vulnerable spots of climate change and according to a recent World Bank’s new Groundswell Africa report, the continent will be hit the hardest, with up to 86 million Africans migrating within their own countries by 2050.
Following the evidence of vulnerabilities from the continent, the young African voices on climate change urged world leaders to listen to them and secure their future.
Speaking on the intersection between climate change and gender and the need for prioritisation of gender issues at COP26, Fatou Jeng, a climate activist from The Gambia, said: “Gender is a cross-cutting issue due to how women and girls continue to be one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. As such, I expect our COP26 negotiations to put climate justice in the heart of our negotiations because there is no climate justice without gender justice and social justice.”
Ms Jeng is the policy operations co-lead on gender and climate change of the UNFCCC Youth Constituency.
Adenike Oladosu, a Nigerian climate activist, eco-feminist, and the initiator of the Fridays For Future movement in Nigeria, said she will like to see African leaders place their people over politics or profit and speak the truth to the developed countries.
She said the commitment of $100 billion climate finance to support developing countries towards cutting carbon emissions, and to minimise the impact of climate change and adapt developing economies to deal with its impact must be seen to be achieved.
She said: “It will be an injustice to us in Africa if Article 6 of the Paris agreement that has to do with counting, transparency, and accountability in order to reduce emissions (especially to the largest polluters) is not completed at the course of this conference.”
Ms Adenike said any commitments taken in COP26 by leaders should not remain at the conference. Such commitments should become a reality back home post COP26 in order to close the gap between actions and words.
Adding his voice, Nyombi Morris, a Ugandan climate activist, expects that this year’s COP26 is seen as a do or die matter.
“In August the world was attacked by climate change impacts, some saw it as news but we activists and scientists have been warning the people about this before now.”
Mr Nyombi said today’s destruction and human suffering has been fueled by companies from the global north who compromise African leaders with money in the name of investment and development.
“Yes we know that we are underdeveloped but these people are finishing our natural resources in gold mining, coal, copper, and iron.
“It’s time for climate action. African leaders who have been invited to COP26 should make sure all their negotiation is in favour of their citizens who are at the receiving end of climate disasters,” he said, adding that; “We need to set up structures that are going to support those communities which are already struggling with climate change impacts.”