COP27 - Futures being stolen from young people in Africa

Posted on 10 November 2022

​COP27 has been getting underway, and political leaders have made more demands for action.

African political leaders emphasise that unless the continent adopts a new green economy, the children's future will shape the children's future that will be at risk from the climate crisis. Conservation charity Space for Giants hosted a special event at COP27 with warnings that young people, particularly those in Africa, are some of the most disenfranchised groups regarding climate change.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said, "While there were positive noises made at COP26 last year, it is quite clear that the global community, especially wealthy nations, have taken a step backwards from their commitments. The war in Ukraine has, perversely, incentivised more oil and gas exploration rather than encouraging the transition to renewable, green, energy. Self-preservation stands in the way of saving humanity and saving our children, from the greatest existential crisis in our history."

President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that young people have the right to be angry about the future being stolen from them while feeling heartened to hear other countries and leaders express anger about the current situation.

He continued, "The restoration and management of Africa's great tropical forests, our savannas, our swamps, our mangroves, our coral reefs, and all our natural ecosystems avoid and remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere, helping to combat climate change and the species extinction crisis. And by happy coincidence these interventions create nature-based carbon credits, which are hugely coveted by those who want to offset their emissions."

Prof Lee White, Gabon's Minister of Water, Forests, the Sea, and Environment, charged with Climate Change, SDGs and Land-use Planning, echoed the seriousness of the effects of climate change on the people in Africa, stating that the climate crisis is a question of "life or death" for the twenty-two million people who currently live on the continent. White stressed that the current "small commitments" are not enough, with science models showing that the world will still increase by 2.5 degrees at current rates.

However, Africa can be part of the solution to climate change. Garbon is using its forest conservation as an opportunity to create carbon credits. Because they can absorb and store gases which would contribute to global warming, this process could become up to 20% of the country's economy.

Africa's current C02 emissions are negligible; however, the "impacts that we feel are so enormous", Dr Mary Goretti Kitutu, Uganda's Minister of Karamoja Affairs. "It is the youth who are going to bear the brunt of what is to come. Know that we are doing will affect you and will affect you in future. That is why we need education. We need innovation. And we need a unified voice coming from the youth."

Green finance is seen as a critical driver for the next wave of growth in tackling climate change and Africa's economy. Professor Foday Jawad, Sierra Leone's Minister of Environment and Climate Change has said Africa has a long stretch of coastal areas with mar groves, and Sierra Leone does so in particular. Such an asset through green financing can attract millions of dollars. That is why my country intends to introduce a carbon policy to take advantage of such green finance to benefit the youth and future generations."

COP27 will continue to have Africa at the centre of conversations with more demands to enable a green economy and deal with climate change's effects on the continent.

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