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Saikou Suwareh Jabai: Climate change is unfair
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Saikou Suwareh Jabai: Climate change is unfair

The injustice about the climate change to me as an African and a Gambian in particular is that the people who are least responsible for the unfortunate changes of the climate are the ones who are paying the most brutal price in its aftermath. Climate change in Africa is awfully contributing to the creation of more deserts, starvation, water scarcity and food insecurity. The change is inherently unfair. The countries and communities that are most at risk from its impacts, and are least able to adapt, are those that have contributed least to the global problem. If poorer nations pursue economic growth by the same means from which the rich and industrialized nations have benefitted, then they will only add to the climate change problem. Indeed, the richest nations insist that all nations, including the poorest ones, should act to limit climate change, but when the poorest nations ask the richer ones for help to do so, they don’t get the finance and technology they need in return. Now I ask, is this really fair?


If this is not enough a justification to convince you of my observation, then let’s look at the international negotiations on climate change. Some countries hold considerable power while others have little to bring to the table other than moral arguments. The more vulnerable nations can do little when industrialized nations fail to act to limit climate change, or even break promises they have made in the past. How can the richer nations provide ‘climate finance’ to poorer nations in the form of loans 'not' grants, yet still they are in effect asking the so-called beneficiaries to pay to fix a problem the richer nations created.

If China and America are the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that profusely results to the change in the climate, why should the famine in Somalia killed an estimated 260,000 people between 2010 and 2012? It was the direct result of severe drought across the region. Erratic rainfall and prolonged dry spells have sustained high food prices across the Sahel region, making it increasingly difficult for its innocent poor people to feed themselves.

If the assessment report of the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is anything to go by, then by 2020, up to 250 million Africans are likely to suffer from food insecurity as a result of climate-driven crop failure, loss of livestock, and inadequate of water. If this not enough, the World Bank also indicates that, by 2040, drought and increased heat could reduce by 40-80 per cent the area of sub- Saharan Africa suited growing maize, millet or sorghum. It says a 2°C increase in temperature (projected for 2040), could reduce maize yields by 5 to 22 per cent, wheat by 10 to 17 per cent, and sorghum by 15 to 17 per cent.

The devastation extreme climatic conditions can cause in Africa is evident. However, chanting the injustice status of climate change will in little or no measure, help to solve the equation and there is no time to point accusing fingers.

We should understand and accept the fact that other continent’s actions can crucially impact on our home and as such, we need to be clear and not to compromise our right to a better future, if not for ourselves but for the generations yet unborn. We need not to be bystanders in international negotiations and decision making processes on climate change as we are highly vulnerable.

Yes, some aspects of our agriculture may benefit from climate change, but the rising temperatures and extreme events it drives, such as low rainfall and floods, appear likely to threaten crops and livestock across in the country. However, it can have less direct effect too, by affecting the pests, weeds and parasites. Together, these changes have already been linked to rising food prices and reduced food security.

Even though The Gambia has one of the lowest overall and per capita global warming emissions on the planet, the country is suffering some of the consequences of climate change. Some of these impacts are already unfolding and an undeniable example is the unfortunate precipitation of the rainfall in 2014. If the government of The Gambia want to achieve its blueprint in the famous ‘grow what you eat and eat what you grow’ ringtone, themes of climate change mitigation and adaptation must appear on the summit of its agenda. Needless to say, the unfavorable statistical distribution of weather patterns in The Gambia seriously threatens our food security in both fisheries and agriculture.

As an African climate change activist, I wish to sum up by calling for the equitable distribution of resources among nations to tackle climate change and for climate-vulnerable people to fully take part in decision making at the international level as climate change is everybody’s business.

Saikou Suwareh Jabai is a journalist, researcher and the Program Manager of Climate Watch- The Gambia.


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