The Pan Africa Climate Alliance (PACJA) has launched a Climate Justice Torch initiative to amplify untold climate impact stories of Africa ahead of the 27th Conference of Parties (COP 27) in Egypt.
The ceremony forms part of events leading to the Africa Climate Week to be held in Gabon.
The Executive Director of PACJA, Dr Mithika Mwenda, explained that the Torch Campaign would raise the demands of Africa as a continent with special needs and circumstances, ensuring the prioritization of adaptation, loss and damage and climate finance in the negotiations at the COP27.
“Today, as part of our drive to amplify our voices, we are glad to launch the Climate Justice Torch campaign, which aims to mobilize and galvanize voices of the vulnerable communities. We want this torch to illuminate our aspirations as Africans”, he said.
The African continent, according to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, suffers and is projected to suffer the most from the dire consequences of Climate Change despite its little contribution to the driving force of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions.
The Climate Justice Torch initiative has therefore been launched to kick-start an Africa-wide process of enhancing visibility of the struggles and resilience of African communities on the frontline of the climate crisis by giving them a platform to voice their issues and shape priorities in global Climate Change discussions.
The Minister of Water, Forest, the Sea and Environment in Gabon, Prof Lee White, addressing the gathering reiterated that “Science has proved it and has time and again told us Africa is at the forefront of the climate crisis because of a problem it did not cause. As Africans, we must not tire in telling and retelling the global north to not just sort out the mess, but finance the loss and damage and adaptation efforts by the Africans”.
Among the group of activists that marched to the Ministry where the torch was unveiled were Faith leaders, including Bishops, mothers, fathers, young people and children who stood in intergenerational solidarity demanding that action be taken by all and sundry to address the climate crisis.
The Director of Programs at All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), Rev. Dr Ezekiel Lesmore, argued that climate change has evolved, and faith leaders are first respondents of those displaced or in mourning of loved ones due to flooding, death due to drought or climate-related insecurity.
“The places of faith host thousands of suffering people from climate-related impacts. All that the faith wants is accountability. We seek to work with governments to find solutions,” he added.
About Climate Justice Torch
Through the leadership of young people on the continent, the Climate Justice Torch campaign will provide a platform for women, young people, indigenous people, pastoralists, fisher folk and their movements as well as children in the frontline of the climate crisis to amplify their issues, share their propositions and convene dialogues with policymakers.
The Climate Justice Torch will contribute to the effective building of an African narrative on climate justice by ensuring meaningful engagement within targeted communities directly affected by the climate crisis.
In addition, it will profile the issues at stake, contribute to advancing the commitment to operationalizing the special needs and circumstances of the African continent and inspire the youth, women and vulnerable populations to tell their stories in their own language, about their understanding of the climate crisis.
The Torch will move from country to country through communities who will also be sharing experiences of good practices on climate actions at local level, voices of which will be used to lobby and advocate for a COP for the African people in Sharma El Sheikh when global leaders meet for the Climate Summit.
African civil society groups hope that the voices gathered will be enough to pile pressure on global leaders from wealthy and industrialized countries to adopt ambitious Africa-centric climate commitments and outcomes at COP27.
The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) is a network of more than 1000 organizations from 48 countries in Africa consisting of NGOs, grassroots organizations, trusts, foundations, indigenous communities, farmers, community-based organizations, and religious organizations that advocates for climate and environmental justice and it is a people-centered consortium.
COP 27 in Africa
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP, is held in November every year for countries that are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC to review the implementation of decisions made to address climate change by all parties and to take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of previous and new decisions to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of Climate Change.
The 27th Session of the COP will be held in Egypt from 6th to 18th November 2022.
There has been an increase in the expectations of Africans towards this conference. Many believe issues like Climate Adaptation, Finance, Loss and Damage should be prioritized at the negotiations this year because these are the pressing needs of the continent.
The writer is a Patience Agyekum is a Lead on Policy and Climate Change at Strategic Youth Network for Development, Ghana.