AS preparations for the UNFCCC COP22 set for Marrakech, Morocco, gather momentum, a comprehensive introspection is needed in order to find out what Africa’s climate change concerns vis-à-vis those of established habitual polluters are.
GUEST OPINION: PETER MAKWANYA
Africa will be impacted disproportionately and will experience massive deterioration because of a lack of sustainable solutions, so we are always bombarded by the gospel of sustainability.
Does Africa really need a conference of the parties that includes the world’s greatest carbon sinners or that a separate one, specifically for African concerns is the way to go?
It is baffling that Africa spends sleepless nights ahead of the conference trying to brainstorm how best carbon emissions can be reduced, yet its emissions are quite insignificant and almost non-existent, outside the amounts that South Africa emits.
The main worry that Africa should tackle at the COP22 in Marrakech, is not about fostering the 1,5 degree threshold in the reduction of carbon emissions and how it can invest in carbon trading or clean development mechanisms (CDM), but Africa’s climate concerns lie in its failure to manage its forest reserves.
Africa’s main worry at the moment is massive deforestation — consuming its forest cover at an alarming rate. Not even desertification, coastal erosions and floods constitute its main climate worries.
Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Gabon are almost on their knees, as their indigenous forests are being mortgaged for a pittance by those in authority.
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Another problem that African countries face is the fast disappearing biodiversity in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Africa and Mozambique just to mention a few.
These are Africa’s major concerns, not carbon emissions from non-existent industries.
It is my belief that Africa’s attention should not be diverted by powerful foreign conglomerates in cahoots with their local goons, who hold unwritten rights to their countries’ natural resources.
The eco-freak crime cannot be blamed on poor and vulnerable African communities, but foreign multinationals with the blessings of Africans with political influence, who are guilty of proxy deals that leave the ordinary African more impoverished.
The current destruction of forests will impact on crop yield retardation, biodiversity loss, water stress and scarcities and health concerns.
But for how long shall Africa suffer from massive and uncontrolled deforestation and biodiversity loss?
Have we ever tried taking stock of the irresponsible and spoilt African State media guilty of peddling propaganda protecting those mortgaging their countries’ resources for a song?
Industrialised countries do not loot African forest resources without the blessings of our leaders, who collect money on our behalf, build mansions and cruise in the latest models of SUVs.
African countries, all of them combined, do not emit any significant greenhouse gases compared to even small industrialised nations, but we are saying the continued destructions of the forest resources will render Africa inhabitable.
If the numerous COP summits were any useful, certainly developing countries would have their voices heard and emerge victorious, but they are browbeaten and promised pledges that never come.
Once again, they are heading to Morocco to be bribed with other pledges, while those promised before have not been fulfilled.
The 1,5 degrees, 2,4 or whatever threshold is not for Africa and other developing countries to lose sleep, but it is the developed world’s baby to take care of.
Africa should also focus on how to curb climate related conflicts that are driving its nationals to Europe, and drowning in droves in the process.
These are some of critical issues that African countries should nip in the bud, but if the West has not said that this is a problem, African leaders will never see it as one and the desperate will continue to be fodder for marine-based creatures.
While deforestation may not be the main problem driving global warming, it is a prime driver of climate change. Forests play a critical role in carbon sequestration.
They also help maintain soil fertility, regulate eco-system balance and moisture retention, just to highlight a few. They also provide the most needed forest cover and habitation for biodiversity growth.
According to UNEP, Africa is losing four million hectares of forests every year more than any other continent.
Because of poverty and desperation, sometimes African leaders find themselves left with no choice but to mortgage their countries’ resources, but sadly, as they do so, not anything significant will trickle to the desperate and vulnerable local communities.
In this regard, instead of African countries continuing to worry about their own climate problems, they spend time assisting developed countries worry about theirs, leaving the continent’s unresolved.
Finally, developing countries need to stop being bribed with aspects of carbon trading, which clearly encourage polluting countries to pollute more.
As such, Africa should carry out a serious introspection and reconsider the benefits of attending these international climate change conferences, focus inwardly and promote local initiatives that uplift the livelihoods of their local populations.
Peter Makwanya is a Climate change communicator. He writes in his capacity and can be contacted on: [email protected]