Members of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) Demand a Champion Like Meles Zenawi

Photo: Meles Zenawi, the Late PM of Ethiopia

Jan. 31, 2013

African climate change advocates miss Meles Zenawi, demand another champion from AU

It is months now since the demise of Meles Zenawi and the African Union Heads of State and Governments Summit which ended last week was the first time in decades that happened without him. But, members of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), a network of 300 civil society organizations from across Africa rue Meles Zenawi’s absence.

The former Ethiopian Prime Minister who died in August 2012 founded the Conference of Heads of State and Government on Climate Change and hardly would a meeting that brings Heads of State and Governments end without the matter of climate change being on the agenda.

“Many of us in the civil society had our own differing opinions on him, but now we can feel his absence in the climate change dialogue process,” said Mithika Mwenda, Coordinator, PACJA.

“I bet that if he [Meles Zenawi] was alive [today], we could have had climate change and Post-Doha reflections accorded prominent attention here in Addis Ababa. We really lost a champion at higher political echelons of power in Africa,” he said.

In a statement released on the sidelines of the recently held AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Mithika said the AU needs collaboration and structured dialogue to enhance African voice in the next series of climate change processes under ADP.

The need for Africa’s leadership on climate change is greater than ever. Across the continent, Mithika said there are already hundreds of thousands of Africans struggling with droughts, plagues, floods, diseases and increasingly unpredictable weather. Climate change is becoming deadlier every year.

“The question is whether we are getting the necessary commitment from our political leaders to ensure the subject receives the attention it deserves?” He posed.

During the swearing of the US President, one of the main subjects he passionately committed himself was climate change.

The US president believes that times was up to makes moves that would safeguard the future generation by taking painful and decisive actions to address climate change.

Mithika said it is ironical that the US which has bigger resilience level is more concerned about climate change than most African countries whose citizens are at the frontline of climate impacts!

As the continent most impacted by climate change, it is expected that the political leaders ought to have put the subject in the priority list in key meetings as the ones held this January. “Unfortunately, the meeting is dominated by Mali and donors and hardly anything at all on climate change at the 20th African Heads of State Summit,” he said.

He added that there is unfinished business for Africa on all pillars of Bali Roadmap – adaptation, finance, mitigation and technology transfer – we need collaboration and global partnership. It starts from us. Africa needs a new climate change ambassador at the Heads of States level to champion its cause as Meles Zenawi did,” he said.

The UNFCCC-COP18, which was held in Doha, Qatar, on 26th November to 7 December 2012, was expected by the international community to agree on outstanding issues that have not been resolved to comprehensively address the growing threats of climate change. However, it ended without making any substantive agreement leaving the planet to a global worming of 2.5 degree c. to 4 degree c by 2050. This would mean about 3-6 degree for Africa, which is highly catastrophic for plant and animal species to survive.

The moral and justice question here is that despite the fact that Africa has contributed negligibly to the problem of global warming, it stands at the frontline of climate change threats, with millions of people facing starvation, increased disease prevalence, floods and water scarcity. All these have dragged the region’s effort to reduce poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Last Updated (Thursday, 31 January 2013 10:34)

Source: PACJA