As Kenya prepares for the first general elections in 2012 under the new Constitution, the media’s focus has been on politics. While this is important, the media should not forget other critical and pressing issues that need urgent attention. As agenda setters and opinion shapers, the media should not be swayed by politicians and their aggressive campaigns to get votes and gain favor among the electorate.
Climate change is one key issue that the media should focus on. The Horn of Africa experienced the worst famine in four decades this year and people are still reeling under its effects. It is laudable that the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern Africa (COMESA) and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) launched a joint five-year programme on climate change adaptation and mitigation in early December, 2011. Aimed at addressing the impacts of climate change in the EAC, COMESA and SADC region through successful adaptation and mitigation actions to enhance economic and social resilience, member states need to urgently create policies to implement the programme. It is worth noting that the EAC has taken the lead and established the Climate Change Fund and the Climate Change Coordination Unit.
The media should come in to set the agenda and shape public opinion on climate change. For starters, the media needs to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change among the citizenry, development partners, the private sector and the government. Secondly, the media should provide a platform upon which the citizenry can engage the government on climate change, demanding and claiming their rights to cushion them from climate change impacts such as the famine and floods. Last but not least, the media should find a way of generating debate among key stakeholders on climate change including the government, development partners, the private sector, the civil society and the citizenry
The impacts of climate change and the need for urgent attention cannot be overemphasized. According to a report by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) (Climate Change: Impacts, Vulnerabilities and Adaptation in Developing Countries) the impacts of climate change in Africa are many. In regard to water, many countries will face water stress with 75-220 million people facing severe water shortages by 2020. In as far as agriculture and food security are concerned, agricultural production will be severely compromised due to uncertainty about what and when to plant as weather patterns will be unpredictable. Worse still, the report predicts that yields from rain-fed crops could be halved by 2020 in some countries with net revenues from crops falling by 90% by 2100. Last but not least, an increase in frequency and intensity of extreme events, including droughts and floods are likely to occur.
Given that Africa and East Africa in particular have low adaptive capacity to both climate variability and climate change, it is important that the mass media use their power to help address these issues. This is urgent and important because the situation is exacerbated by the existing challenges including endemic widespread poverty, limited access to capital, including markets, infrastructure and technology, complex disasters and conflicts.No Comments » | Add your comment
As I have been attending more sessions at the ICC today I asked Max Bloomfield to cover the events of the street parade taking place through the streets around us, and here is his account:
As the numerous large armoured police vehicles crept towards me I was initially a little concerned at the heavy police presence at the start of the walk. Thankfully this thinned out and was just a cautionary approach from the SAPD, for the rest of the parade, over a kilometre long and composed of numerous sections of civil society, faith-based, and organised labour groups amongst others, was pleasantly spirited and boisterous. Starting early this morning at Botha’s Garden and working it’s way down Dr Pixley Kaseme Street, towards the ICC, the parade filled the air with the sounds of singers, chanters, music, and once again, vuvuzelas.
Although the streets nearby were filled with shoppers as normal, the main parade streets were filled close to capacity with fascinated locals and fervent climate change activists alike, not to mention a great deal of press-coverage. The parade included less well known groups such as the Airport Farmer’s Association, The Rural People’s Movement and the Landless People’s Movement, next to global giants such as WWF and Greenpeace. Very slowly the parade has made its way down to the ICC where it is currently pausing to allow short speaches to be made, and for statements gathered from participating groups to be handed over to Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. It doesn’t look like anyone here will run out of energy before the parade heads to the Old Pavilion site later this afternoon where it will end.1 Comment » | Add your comment
Yesterday though, I felt relatively proud to be a ‘Brit’.
- Firstly, the UK Committee on Climate Change called for the UK to raise the global bar – by setting the target of reducing UK emissions by 60% by 2030. It’s bold and ambitious but let’s hope our government listens to the advice from the Committee set up to … advise them on climate targets.
- Secondly, having attended a session with the UK’s Sir Nicholas Stern – an inspiring tour de force in the field – I’m more clear than ever that the neccessity to cut carbon emissions is also hugely desirable.
In his words,’ … we are talking about a new industrial revolution, transforming the way we see and do things. It’s time we started looking at the opportunities rather than the costs’.
The task is huge – essentially to almost halve the carbon emissions of each person in the next decade (from 7 tonnes to 4) - but it’s this change of spirit, focusing on the positives, which will be the power behind the new industrial revolution.
I’m a romantic and an optimist.
I don’t believe you should settle for second best and I hold the same principle for the UN climate talks.
We all desperately want Cancun to be a success – it’s in the best interests of every one of the 6 billion of us on the planet.
So, Practical Action, with over 200 other NGOs is pushing to ensure that, at the very least, a fair ‘Global Climate Fund’ is launched during the negotiations. A tangible sign of progress.
However, in the rush to see the Fund established it’s crucial that it delivers in the best way possible for poor communities. The spirit of ‘if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with’ cannot apply here.
The Fund has to be fair and should therefore cover the following:
1) The Fund needs to be managed under the UN process
2) It should be the ‘one stop shop’ for the vast majority of funds for climate change
3) 50% of all money through the Fund must be for climate adaptation
4) Its Board cannot be donor dominated – developing country voices must be heard
A fair Fund is overdue. Now is the time to deliver for the world’s poorest people.
CampaignsNo Comments » | Add your comment
So, I hear it’s snowing in the UK.
Well, there’s a chill in the air here too.
Outside, the Mexican sun is pushing temperatures to a heady 28c but inside, around the negotiating tables, it must be feeling a bit frosty.
Yesterday we heard that Bolivia (the poorest country in Latin America, one of the lowest global CO2 emitters yet hard hit by climate change) is taking a tough stance.
In many senses this is nothing new – Bolivia stood firm at the climate negotiations in Copenhagen and are pushing for the most dramatic ceiling on the global temperature rise.
The Bolivian delegation feels that the Copenhagen accord (the non-binding ‘statement of intent’ from last year’s climate talks) is so weak that it’s not worth them supporting.
Developing countries have failed to uphold their pledges so many times that the Bolivians are holding out for THE ‘fair and binding’ deal.
Having visited Bolivia earlier this year, and seeing for myself the harshness of the climatic changes and communities’ determination to maintain and adapt their culture – for the sake of their survival – I personally can’t condemn the Bolivians for their position.
Why shouldn’t we hold out and demand for the international deal that will make the difference needed?
HelenNo Comments » | Add your comment
For many, Cancun is the ultimate honeymoon destination.
Well, for the next two weeks, Cancun will be home to the UN climate change negotiations – 192 member states, the world’s journalists and the NGO community – but the prospect of a honeymoon period seems slim.
That’s because the ‘wedding day’, where binding and solemn vows are made, has never taken place. The world’s poorest women and men have been jilted and are still waiting at the aisle.
Copenhagen, the home of last year’s climate talks, promised to deliver the ‘fair and binding’ global deal on climate change. But we all know that it never materialised. The job in Cancan is in many ways harder – whilst expectations are lower (much lower), these negotiations have to rebuild faith that the multi-lateral process can deliver for the world’s poorest people.
Practical Action will be focusing specifically on ‘adaptation’ throughout the talks – more funding, more fairly delivered, more focused on the most vulnerable.
Why? Because our work on the ground, from the pastoralist lands of Kenya to the floodplains of Bangladesh, makes a compelling case for adaptation (providing people with the skills, tools and opportunity to adapt to their changing climate).
In fact, the future of whole communities depends on the exchange of meaningful and lasting commitments, right now.
P.s Keep up-to-date with the progress of the negotiations by following my daily blog â€¦2 Comments » | Add your comment
This morning I walked through the conference centre to the tune of ‘Time to say good-bye’, originally sung by Andrea Bocelli, but now being whistled by the man in front of me. What had spurred his operatic outburst? The Poznan conference doesn’t finish until Saturday; surely he couldn’t be embarking on the road to Copenhagen just yet? Perhaps he was just sad to leave the plenary, or, perhaps he had a more pragmatic reason.
There is a small chance he was reflecting on the continued loss caused by climate change if countries such as Canada, Japan, Australia, and Russia don’t commit to emissions reduction targets anytime soon. These countries don’t seem to want to say goodbye their carbon but are happy to see Kenya lose its fertile land, Peru lose its water supplies, and Bangladesh lose homes and livelihoods every time a flood hits.
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN’s climate change convention, stated today at a press conference that precise and adequate figures for near-term reductions are essential requirements from developed countries next year in Copenhagen. But if these countries could give an indication as to their intentions here in Poznan it would go a long way to building trust with the less developed countries that are already complying with what is required of them. The path to Copenhagen will be much smoother for this.
It shouldn’t have to take a catastrophic loss to jolt the non-committal countries to deviate from their emissions paths, but if Australia needs inspiration it should look to the three-year water drought it is only just recovering from that sent food prices across the world sky high. To avoid this, these countries could just check the recent science compiled by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This states that we need reductions in the range of 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020.
But if these countries still find it hard to let go then perhaps they should reflect that soon the communities they are turning their back on will start running out of time to say goodbye. Perhaps I will follow the same chap in Copenhagen whistling ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’.No Comments » | Add your comment
As the talks are now well underway, the wealth of extra-curricular events at this year’s conference deserves a mention. From low carbon technologies to high sea level predictions, the side events dotted around the site cover the spectrum of climate-related topics in a gruelling schedule running from nine in the morning to nine at night. To go to them all would make you a climate expert, albeit one with a migraine.
Probably best I just select a few highlights then. On Tuesday evening, Practical Action and Tearfund held their side event, ‘From Vulnerability to Resistance’, for a capacity crowd of nearly one hundred. The room was crammed to hear Gehendra Gurung from Practical Action Nepal speak about how our projects incorporate disaster risk reduction into community-based adaptation. This prompted a constructive debate in which an official from the UN Secretariat asked a question regarding our work.
Fittingly, there are a lot of side events preparing us for the year leading up to a deal in Copenhagen and, from the ones I have attended, there is a real sense that 2009′s campaign will roll straight out of Poznan. The next twelve months will require massive participation, which is why it was inspiring to visit an International Youth Delegation presentation. A lot of suggestions at this side event were met with whoops and cheers, but none more than for a Kenyan man who announced that he was planning to organise a youth delegation for the only continent not represented by the scheme – Africa.
What is evident is that from now on climate change will not be a side event – it will be the event. In the short term it will be about pushing forward for a strong Copenhagen deal, but from now, and way beyond this, it is about scaling up our efforts in making sure those vulnerable people already dealing with climate change have the capability to tackle the dangers they face.No Comments » | Add your comment
And they’re off! The 2008 UN climate talks started yesterday in Poznan, Poland. We have now embarked on a fortnight of discussions towards a post-Kyoto deal . The question is: what sort of deal will be?
These talks are the springboard for the final year of discussions. We need to reach agreement on a final work plan for 2009 so that the run up to Copenhagen can be spent hammering out the intricacies, not the master plan. Poznan is, therefore, more about aiding than clinching final deals but, nevertheless, weak agreements here will weaken our post-2012 deal.
It should not be underestimated what the consequences of an inadequate deal next year will mean for the world, and in particular those who are already struggling with climate change – the vulnerable communities in countries ill-equipped to deal with the impacts. For these people a deal should have been made years ago, 2008-9 really is the last deadline.
Today, and during the preparations prior to the conference, it has been encouraging to see that developing countries are increasingly finding a voice in the debates and are organising collectively to enhance their position. Much of this new assertiveness has been driven by NGOs working within these countries – our team in Poznan is blessed with Gehendra Gurung from Practical Action Nepal who has been awarded a place on his government’s delegation. On the other hand, it’s disheartening to hear the distance from the conference that many Southern participants are having to stay due to the expense of hotels anywhere near Poznan. Couple this with the fact that there is no Polish embassy in the whole of Africa, and you risk having the makings of a COP totally dominated by rich, Northern countries.
These points do not bode well for the host nation to whom all eyes are peeled. To their credit, the Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, made a stirring opening speech calling for a collective will to tackle climate change and stating that the global economic crisis is not an excuse to hold back. However, it doesn’t take an expert to see the contradictions in Tusk’s address and, for their efforts in blocking the EU Climate and Energy Package whilst also trying to weaken mitigation commitments, Poland received the Fossil of the Day Award on the opening day.
But this is just the first day of talks and there will be many twists and turns over the next thirteen days. What matters is that by December 13th we will have a good idea what will be the core components of the post-Kyoto deal. Developing countries need to be right at the top of this agenda. They have overcome major obstacles to be here and they have done so for a reason – they are experiencing climate change now. The Poznan conference needs to recognise this as those involved set us on a course for a climate deal at Copenhagen.No Comments » | Add your comment