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Climate Summit: African leaders must prioritise human rights demand on negotiating table – Amnesty International

‘It is staggeringly unjust that those least responsible for the climate crisis and often least equipped to protect themselves continue to bear the heaviest burden’

By Valentine Amanze

Amnesty International has appealed to African leaders and climate negotiators to pursue ambitious and long-lasting climate action to safeguard the human rights of individuals and communities already suffering from the disastrous effects of climate change at the African Climate week and inaugural Climate Summit, which begins in Nairobi, Kenya on September 4, 2023.

Amnesty International, in a statement issued on Thursday, said that the four-day meeting must push for adequate funding for climate change adaptation, effective remedies for loss and damage, a just energy transition away from fossil fuels, and solutions to address climate-induced migration.

It pointed out that extreme weather and slow onset crises, such as drought, made more likely and more severe by climate change, were harming millions of people across the continent.

It further stated that the World Food Programme estimated that due to the protracted drought, 22 million people in the Horn of Africa are currently food insecure, with over five million children being malnourished.

 The human rights group revealed that the drought and famine have disproportionately affected women and children and escalated conflicts among pastoralist communities.

Also read: African Climate Summit: Group demands justice, decolonization, survival for Africa

“The impact of the climate crisis is all too visible in Africa. People are being displaced and facing unpredictable harvests and food insecurity. Water resources are increasingly stressed. It is staggeringly unjust that those least responsible for the climate crisis and often least equipped to protect themselves continue to bear the heaviest burden,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.

The group advised African leaders at the summit to push wealthy states to present a clear plan that will substantially increase their contributions to climate finance and collectively meet the already agreed goal of raising at least 100 billion USD annually, including by meeting previous shortfalls, through grants rather than loans.

“Wealthy countries must also undertake debt relief to provide heavily indebted African countries with the fiscal space to budget for climate change adaptation. The international community must also accelerate efforts to slash global emissions to avoid even more catastrophic impacts from the climate emergency,” it stated.

Besides, the organisation recalled that last year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) adopted a Loss and Damage Fund to provide financial assistance to poorer countries dealing with the consequences of climate change, regrating that but it was yet to be fully operationalized.

It also called for a just energy transition, which, it said, has potential to create millions of jobs, reduce pollution that leads to premature deaths and other severe health impacts, and deliver clean energy to millions of people on the continent living without electricity. “African leaders must ensure that the transition to renewable energy and a zero-carbon economy is carried out with respect for the human rights of impacted workers, and frontline communities and must include comprehensive and adequate social protection and investment in re-employment skills and training,” it stated.

The Africa Climate Week and the Africa Climate Summit come against a backdrop of intensified and more frequent extreme weather events across the continent, including droughts, floods, tropical storms and cyclones, intricately linked to climate change.

These events continue to negatively impact on the human rights of millions of people in the continent.

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