Climate Change Environment

The climate change dilemma: Too much empty talk, time for action

Africa still cries for justice on global warming image/courtesy

By Patrick Kiarie

The effects of climate change are here with us, that is a reality that nobody can deny.

As we speak, a number of African countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, among other Sub-Saharan countries are on the verge of one of the most devastating droughts of our times, and experts all over are pointing out that indeed, this is as a result of global warming.

The challenge of climate change adds to the pile of issues that these developing economies have to contend with, add the covid-19 pandemic that has affected all the economies globally and you will feel the distress that these countries are facing.

The sad thing is that everybody, including governments, agrees that developing economies are paying the price of climate change; and that is where the problem lies. In this climate pandemic, these economies that are paying the price are merely innocent victims as they are responsible for just an insignificant fraction of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Africa for example contributes around 2% of the global carbon emissions, yet it is the continent most affected by climate change.

It is sad to note that African countries have been pushed by their development partners to implement green projects in an effort to fight climate change. As much as this is positive, there lies a fundamental problem that western countries are trying to run away from. These projects are heavily funded by the developed countries as loans, adding to the debt burden on the developing economies. More so, funding green and sustainable development projects is definitely more expensive than others, and thus, these countries are given loans to fund expensive projects by the same countries that are heavily responsible for global pollution. If anything, this comes out as profiteering from the crimes that they are responsible for.

If we lived in a just world, developed countries would be responsible for crimes against humanity, for deliberately perpetrating crimes against our environment, and since we can’t send them to prison, perhaps the only option would have been to make them pay for their crimes by providing reparations to the affected economies. But in a world where these countries sit on the high table and everything happens as per their dictates, that will never happen.

During the Cop26, several developed countries and financial institutions pledged to halt all financing for fossil fuel development overseas and divert the spending to green energy instead, from next year. Indeed, as much as this offered some glimmer hope that finally, some sense may be prevailing in the minds of the global leaders, a deeper analysis of this proposal points to the possibility that this proposal may actually be vague and ineffective and founded on climate change politics and not a desire to transition the world to a world free from fossil fuels. The proposal, though good, does not prevent countries from financing their own fossil fuel projects; secondly, the same proposal can be bypassed and financing for fossil fuel development be done indirectly and finally, the only countries that will definitely be the losers in this proposal are developing countries.

It is also important to note that among the countries that pledged to halt financing to overseas fossil fuel development, the US has at least 24 pending fossil fuel projects representing more than 1.6 gigatons of potential greenhouse gas emissions as well as provided over $20billion annual support to the fossil fuel industry; the UK has at least 40 pending fossil fuel projects; Norway has already granted 60+ new licenses for fossil fuel production and access to 84 new exploration zones in 2021 alone; Canada provided approximately $17 billion in public finance to three fossil fuel pipelines between 2018 and 2020; Australia has over 100 fossil fuel projects currently in the approval pipeline. If anything, therefore, assertions by most of these countries in front of the world media leak of hypocrisy. It is either we want to heal the planet or we don’t want to; we cannot have it both ways.

Patrick Kiarie is the African representative for

the largest review platform for climate change