Archive for November, 2007

Will the world’s poorest benefit from Bali?

Thursday, November 15th, 2007 by

Sharon LooremetaIt is just over a year since I spoke out about climate change at the United Nations talks in Nairobi. I called delegates ‘climate tourists’ and said they would soon forget about Africa.

What will happen when world leaders meet in Bali in just a few weeks time? Will we again see inaction or can I tell my communities this moral injustice will be addressed?

I have often wondered if I had been a little unfair; but I had such high hopes. Climate change lies like a dark cloud over Maasai communities, threatening their existence.

The harsh reality is millions of African people are at the mercy of the climate. Too much rain – we lose all of our precious crops and become prone to disease; too little – we struggle to find water and our animals and livelihoods wither and die.

I have worked with Maasai pastoralists to help them adapt to their changing environment. I was so proud when many of them marched through the streets of Nairobi, asking for an end to climate injustice.

No longer did these communities feel they were being punished and were to blame for drought.

But we did not see urgent action. We saw indecision and disagreement between world leaders who were not prepared to make sacrifices.

Imagine my disappointment when I visited them and told them little had been done. Only days earlier their uplifting songs could be heard throughout the city of Nairobi, a few short miles away from the conference. Seemingly their pleas had fallen on deaf ears.

However, I am once again optimistic about the outcome of the Bali meeting. I truly believe world leaders, policymakers and politicians want to make a difference.

Since last year’s talks we have seen scientific reports, a global audience come together for LiveEarth and more people talking about our changing climate.

This year’s conference is the time for world leaders to act; I for one will be following the talks with great interest.

This time I don’t want to go back to my community with a heavy heart; let me go back and tell them that change is taking place.

Let me go back and tell them rich countries are going to take responsibility and they can start looking at living their lives again, not just existing.

Sharon Looremeta
Practical Action Project officer, Kenya

“Climate change tourists is what I call you …” – Sharon’s intervention at the UNFCC COP12, Nairobi, November 2006
Sharon speaks at Live Earth