April 26, 2016


By Fredrick Ochieng’ Ouma                                                                                                           
In the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), all the countries who are party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the beloved offspring of the Earth Summit, were supposed to submit during the 21st Conference of Parties, countries outlined their emissions stoppage years and when they expect to start the decline in their emissions. More than three-quarters of Parties to UNFCCC submitted these INDCs with a commitment to specific timelines and figures, whether your emissions were significant or not. In fact, the Underdeveloped and the developing countries with insignificant emissions had the most ambitious INDCs.
What stands to highlight the difference between these countries or negotiation blocks, is how they stand to use the period between Paris to the specific years they commit to stop further emissions. This red mark will provide a permanent cutoff line between developed and developing countries then. I know there are countries eager to ensure they exploit all their fossil fuel reserves before they run out of time, but I am not sure if there is any African Country among these countries. I am also enlightened enough to know that there are countries working out the clock to ensure they provide alternative energy sources with less or no detrimental effects on the environment to improve their economies by selling the same to other parts of the world. Again I stand corrected if there is any African Country pursuing this path.
The reason Africa remains on the periphery and embraces it is because we celebrate green cards offering us voluntary slavery; we remain apologetic in negotiations, eyes fixed only on Aid and not our own strength; we award mining tenders without provisions to empower our own citizens to win future tenders; we are consistent with bribes from international corporations to give tenders, selling our own power to dictate terms of business; we celebrate innovations from the global North while turning a blind eye at our own potential; and keep mourning that we bear the brunt of Climate Change because UNFCCC projected it so, instead of working hard to save the agricultural sector, the only sector supporting our claim.
Villages are being swept away in Alaska due to melting ice caps, that is not Africa; there are more wildfires in Alaska like never before, that is not Africa; Europe has merely settled down after serious floods, that is not Africa; China has seen a series of disasters, from typhoons to landslides, that is not Africa; Hurricane Sandy of 2012 saw 199 lives lost, I cannot remember that in Africa; 2012 saw one of the worst droughts in the USA, that was not Africa; Russian Heatwave and fires believed to have cost the country 3.6 billion dollars with 56 000 deaths in 2010 was not in Africa; Hurricane Katrina, 2005, 125 billion dollars in cost with 1,833 casualties, not in Africa; and lastly, just to name a few, Typhoon Haiyan, 2013, 14.5 billion in cost with 6,300 casualties, not in Africa. How did these countries get through these disasters? Not by crying to the international community, using the disasters as a bargaining chip to improve figures in the corruption kitty. They had their ego and pride to protect, so they ensured there were structures and proper institutions to address these disasters. What do we do here in Africa, we allocate budgets for anticipated disasters and when the disasters hit, we count casualties and pray it ends soon so that allocations can be transferred to corruption kitties.
The little opportunity given to a monkey to wear clothes does not guarantee it to join the dining table but will at least guarantee space into the dining room. There is a small window of opportunity to redeem ourselves and gain access at least to the dining room. And that is the period between now and when we commit to stopping any further emissions. It is not too late for the prodigal son to come to his senses and realize how much his father is worth. In my mother’s language, we say ‘Ong’er osa Yath’. Mother Africa is very rich in resources and human power. That is why we keep having friends from the global north who treat us like chicken pets because they plan to eat us some day. It is time to build our capacity as a continent by exploiting our fossil fuels to our full potential before the window closes. This we must learn to do ourselves while building our capacity to solve our own problems. It is high time we realized the music has been switched off and stopped dancing lest we make fools of ourselves because it is only a deaf person who continues to dance when the music has stopped. There is no more climate finance coming to corrupt African Countries, which is why we must stop the obsession with COPs and focus on building our own capacity.
Fredrick Ochieng’ Ouma                                                                                                            
  National Coordinator, AYICC                                                                



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