African leaders convening in Nairobi for the African Climate week and inaugural Climate Summit must 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, Amnesty International said today.
Amnesty International said the meetings to be held on 4-8 September 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.
Funding for climate adaptation
Extreme weather and slow onset crises, such as drought, made more likely and more severe by climate change are harming millions of people across the continent. The World Food Programme estimates that due to the protracted drought, 22 Million people in the Horn of Africa are currently food insecure, with over 5 million children being malnourished. The drought and famine have disproportionately affected women and children and escalated conflicts among pastoralist communities.
“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 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.Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International's Regional Director for East and Southern Africa
African leaders at the Summit must 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.
Effective remedies for Loss and Damage
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, but it is yet to be fully operationalized.
Amnesty International is calling on African leaders and climate negotiators to push for the effective operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund, with clear, timebound and human rights consistent implementation guidelines.
A just energy transition for workers and communities
A just energy transition 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. However, 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.
Laws and programmes on energy transition should guarantee public participation and protection of the rights of frontline communities during the extraction of minerals for green energy. For instance in the DR Congo communities have been evicted to provide room for cobalt and copper extraction while mining companies continue to perpetuate environment pollution which is now linked to birth defect in children.
‘‘While DRC presents itself as a ‘solution country’ to the climate crisis and a key player in the energy transition away from fossil fuels, our recent research shows that the expansion of industrial copper and cobalt mining, key components to manufacturing electric vehicle batteries and other electronics, has resulted in serious human rights abuses. It is imperative for the DRC government to end these grievous human rights abuses and lead the way for a global energy transition that is wholly compliant with regional and international human rights standards and does not sacrifice the rights and interests of people in DRC.’’ said Tigere Chagutah.
The World Bank predicts that the climate crisis will create 85.7 million climate migrants in sub-Saharan Africa by 2050. African delegations in Nairobi must come up with urgent and adequate legal protection frameworks for internally displaced persons and cross border-climate migrants, Amnesty said.
African leaders at the Summit must recognize the role of climate change in migration and agree policies in line with the Global Compact for Migration and their governments’ human rights obligations.Tigere Chagutah
“African leaders at the Summit must recognize the role of climate change in migration and agree policies in line with the Global Compact for Migration and their governments’ human rights obligations. They should also address climate change’s role in exacerbating conflicts across Africa and suggest collaborative response strategies aligned to the AU’s Agenda 2063 and international human rights law. The AU and regional blocks should collaborate in this agenda,” said Tigere Chagutah.
Amnesty International is also calling on African governments to fully implement resolutions adopted at previous UN climate conferences, and increase budgets for climate adaptation to tackle health, water, and food threats.
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.
For instance, in Angola, drought has forced pastoralist communities to abandon their homes in search of food and water, while successive tropical storms and cyclones have led to homelessness and deaths in Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.