‘Climate change violates human rights’

As continental alliance turns to African Commission, UN for redress

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By Sanna Camara

A member of the international lawyers’ organisation has said that climate change violates human rights of ordinary people around the world who have no idea; neither do they contribute anything to climate change.

Speaking at the launching of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) Gambia Chapter held on the sidelines of the 53rd Ordinary Session of the African commission in Banjul yesterday, Margreat Wewerinke said this is the reason why action is needed to bring justice to victims of climate change.

She said the alliance brings forth human rights approach to the climate change negotiation table. “When people go hungry, it is their right to food that is violated. When floods hit settlements, it people’s right to live and housing that are devastated. It is the same for accidents which occur as a result of climate change effects,” she said.

Africa contributes less than 2 per cent to climate change

She said it is a dilemma that Africa, which contributes less than 2 per cent to climate change, becomes the most affected: “The reason why international law is essential in this regard is that action is needed to bring justice to those affected by climate change.”

100 million Africans would die due to climate change

Dr. Curtis Doebbler, also a member of the international lawyer organization, indicated that 100,000 million Sub-Saharan Africans would die due to effects to climate change.

Dr. Doebbler said this makes it all urgent that action is taken to prevent those people.

The alliance is already preparing input to a study by the Commission on human rights and climate change. Another petition is being processed for onward transmission to the UN Special Rappateur on Climate Change.

300 NGOs and CSOs networking

Buba Khan, Action Aid Africa Advocacy Director, who represented the secretary general of the alliance at the launching held at the TANGO secretariat, Gambian home of NGOs, said the alliance brings together over 300 NGOs and civil society organisations based in 45 countries around the world but mainly Africa, committed to bringing together voices of Africans affected by climate change.

Climate change is governance, human rights issue

Mr. Amadou Taal, the coordinator of the Gambian Chapter said the alliance has been newly-established given the importance of climate change. “As you all know, climate change is not just an isolated environmental issue, neither is it an isolated developmental issue but a governance and human rights issue,” he said.

5 per cent of GDP will be affected

Mr. Taal said reports and researches conducted indicate that a rise of 2 degrees centigrade temperature will affect the rest of Africa and Asia – and 5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of African countries will be affected.

“Agricultural production will decline, food supplies will go down, and lives will be affected. Hence it is time that serious consideration is given to how these lives will be affected,” Taal said, noting that PACJA is taking the issue of climate change to a different level, and looking at it from a human rights and legal perspective.

Gambia’s capital city is under threat

The chairman of the launching ceremony, Ousman Yarboe, said climate change becomes very relevant as Gambia’s capital city is under threat due to climate change.

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