Last month, millions of people across the world, many of them children who skipped school, took part in protests calling for action against climate change. From Australia to America, the “climate strike” day was meant to urge governments and world leaders to end the age of fossils and up their climate efforts.
The protests were inspired by teenage activist Greta Thunberg, who sailed across the Atlantic in an emission-free sailboat in August, to attend the landmark Sept. 23 United Nations climate summit in New York.
Across Africa, both the young and the old left their classrooms and workplaces to join the protests. From Nairobi to Cape Town, Kampalato Lagos, demonstrators called on leaders to mitigate the effects of climate change. Africa has contributed little to climate change but is disproportionately vulnerable to its impacts.
Extreme droughts, flooding, and famine coupled with fast-growing populations are already straining key natural resources in Africa. Due to climate-related causes, for instance, South Africa’s second-largest city Cape Town almost ran out of water in 2018. Climate change also threatens the Nile’s critical water supply, an issue that could lead to a major geopolitical crisis in the coming years. Major African metropolises, especially coastal cities like Lagos and Dar es Salaam, also remain vulnerable to extreme weather patterns.
Eco-activists says the climate crisis will widen inequality and increase or set off major conflicts if African—and global—leaders don’t act now. In Kenya, activists said the government should also seek a 100 percent renewable energy path instead of optioning to build a coal plant.
“Humanity faces three threats to our existence; climate chaos, inequalities, and violence,” Amnesty International Kenya executive director Irungu Houghton said in a statement today. The rights group gave its Ambassador of Conscience Award to young environmental defenders in Kenya, with Houghton noting they were “proud to act in solidarity” with youngsters to protect the planet’s future.
“There can be no human rights, dignity or safety on a dead planet.”