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November 4, 2022

The New Times

Walking to and from the endpoint of the paved walkway of Urugano lane in Nyandungu Eco-Park, inhaling its fresh air and letting its cool bamboo forest breeze wash over you, you say to yourself: “This is the life!” Then you think back a few minutes and hold your breath, paralysed by alarm.

You remember that when you came down a few minutes ago, the whole sky was hooded in black, with rumbling in the sky and heavily-laden clouds sagging so close overhead you thought they were ready to burst down any time. Everybody was sure it was going to be a heavy downpour.

Until gushes of wind swept in from the east and as if on order, the clouds were summarily blown away and the rumbling was promptly silenced. It’s when you remember that this was not the first time imminent rain disappeared into thin air that the alarm paralysis seizes you.

In this region, this is supposed to be one of the two wettest seasons. Yet no drop to behold.

Alas, this bizarreness is not confined to this area only. In many parts of Africa, hunger is devastating populations as carcasses of livestock litter erstwhile grazing land that’s become dead-parched. Some parts are covered in floods that are sweeping people and their property into rivers, lakes and oceans. Others are consumed by inextinguishable fires

It’s the same in ocean islands, in East Asia and South America. The rich industrialised countries of the North may be equally ravaged but they have the means to mitigate these climatic catches.

In the end, economically susceptible nations of the world are most at peril.

Africa, as is usual when it concerns any evil stoking nations of the world, is most battered when it is least responsible for the evil. This, of course, has been the case for all evils it has had to weather down the passage of time. And so we may delude ourselves that we’ll weather this one too.

No way, brother/sister! The evil that’s the climate change crisis is an altogether different quantity.

That’s why it’s perforce the concern of every person, civil society group, corporation and government. Combating the devastating effects of climate change being visited on all nations of this world needs setting aside all other preoccupations and mobilising for climate resilience and climate adaptation now, more than ever before.

“Now”, because there have been jokes of attempts before, which expectedly bore no fruit. There was a flicker of hope when in 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a gathering of 154 countries and the European Union representatives signed a treaty to tackle the climate calamity. What came out in 1994 was a convention with every signatory nation becoming a Party to the Convention.

Today, the “Conference of the Parties (COP) is the [UN] platform for structured international cooperation on matters related” to the climate problem. 30 years down the line, there have been 26 COPs bringing together bigger numbers of the parties mentioned above.

What have we got out of them? Nil!

Those industries are the bêtes-noires enclosing us in a global greenhouse balloon. The rich cannot halt their industries and so, you click? They have the money and, therefore, the voice.    

COP27 is set to convene this Sunday, November 6, in Sham El-Sheikh, Egypt (“Africa for being most affected”, hah!), and the same parties may add to the already unmet resolutions: mitigating emissions, facilitating a just transition, increasing funding, collaboration for essential climate solutions, blah, blah…! Then they’ll fold their bags and go home.

The rich industrialised countries will continue to send more lethal emissions in the air to ‘greenhouse’ us, burning mountains upon mountains of $ trillions. On what? To manufacture, among others, man/woman killer weaponry as Africa continues to yawn and see its people perish.

Meanwhile, the meagre $100bn they promised Africa for its least emissions and its being worst affected has become like the illusive ants’ wings (amababa ya gashwi).    

So, COP27 will be a continuation of the same past talking shops, which is why many sincere members of those parties are boycotting it.

Meanwhile, undeterred, Rwanda continues to green and forest the whole country and create more eco-parks, like Nyandungu Eco-Park, in all wetlands. That way, she is doing her bit to clean the climate and also provide that fresh air to all, before all air is choked away.

So, maybe this COP should learn why this country earned the sobriquet of “Dictatorship” by actually becoming a cop (policeman/woman). Rwanda earned the tag because, for instance, when she says no person should carelessly die in a car accident, none does.

She puts speed limits and makes sure they are obeyed to the letter by setting up speed cameras.

COP can similarly put limits to the amounts of emissions allowed to offend the climate or, in fact, declare no tolerance at all to emissions. A satellite or drones can enforce the orders. Penalties should be stiff for offenders so that the earnings are awarded to those trying to clean the climate.

That way, the hardline climate damagers can be forced to also apply energies on its protection.

With an all-round protected climate, I can visualise a line of African climate protection warriors laughing all the way to the bank!

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