Letter to African Heads of Government
DECLARE Climate Emergency - ACT Now!
We, young African scientists and climate activists, are calling on you.
Every day, more and more extreme weather events are happening across Africa. Reports by the United Nations, Greenpeace and others warn that floods, heatwaves, droughts and famine, wildfires and cyclones are taking place at unprecedented and unpredictable rates in the continent. They are leaving death, destruction and utter devastation in their wake. Millions across our continent have been left facing food insecurity, water shortages, disease and extreme poverty.
And this is just the beginning. Science tells us the African continent will experience higher temperature rises than the global average. Increasing variance in rainfall over the tropics will lead to more extreme precipitation events, which could impact about 25% of the continent.
In the 100 years from 1900 and 2000, the continent already warmed between 0.5 and 1.5℃ in some regions. Africa’s ten hottest years since records began have all been since 2005. If high emissions continue, the mean annual temperature increase for much of Africa is projected to heat up by even 6 ℃ by the end of the 21st century. Studies project that during this century heatwaves will occur more often, at higher intensities, and last for longer - as greenhouse gas concentrations increase.
Science shows that human-made climate change contributed substantially to impacts of extreme droughts over Eastern and Southern Africa. Tropical storms and cyclones will likely increase in intensity in the East and South of the continent.
Extinction of many endemic African species is likely in any scenario we are facing, but will be far worse if we don’t act.
Africa is the world’s youngest and fastest growing continent. We are in the midst of a human-made climate crisis. We have the potential to build a better future for this generation if we act now together.
The clock is ticking. You must act now.
We no longer have the option of ignoring the climate crisis, that is not an option for Africa – for those facing the impacts today and for future generations, our children.
We cannot accept this as the new normal. We must not wait and rely on other nations’ aid. We must act for our people and for our planet. As leaders, it is your duty to protect us and to put people ahead of profits. A climate crisis would be more catastrophic if we fail to act.
We will not be pacified by platitudes and grand statements alone, since the climate crisis is not caused by words and words will not end it. We can only afford to support real action and real change.
Africans may not be primarily responsible for emissions that have brought this climate crisis upon us, but we have the responsibility and the power to build a truly just economy.
We feel the burning heat. We hear our soil crying for water. We see villages and cities flooded and coasts ravaged by storms. We see our crops wiped out by large swarms of locusts. We see our people dying of hunger.
We Africans stand together and we call you as our leaders to demand that you:
- Declare a climate emergency
- Put climate adaptation and mitigation at the core of the response measures to the economic crisis that the world and our continent are facing
- African countries must adopt a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, but by turning away from fossil fuels, making renewable energy accessible for all, and supporting agroecology across the continent to ensure food security and protect biodiversity
- Protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and incorporate their knowledge into climate solutions
- Implement Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate extreme poverty and protect our people from extreme weather events