“The entire continent of Africa is responsible for less than 4% of historic global emissions, yet Africans are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis” writes Vanessa Nakate in The Guardian. Mia Mottley, Prime Minister for Barbados also said at COP27 that the ‘rich world’s’ prosperity and high carbon emissions was achieved historically at the expense of poor nations, who are now being forced to pay again, as victims of climate breakdown they did not cause.
As COP27 continues we are ruminating on what climate change means for remote communities in Nkhata Bay North, where devastating effects are already happening for the people we support.
This year’s Conference Of the Parties, is the first held on the African continent in nearly thirty years of COP talks. COP talks are crucial avenues for setting and managing solutions for climate crisis mitigation on an international scale, while paying attention to important individual country level factors like access to resources and finance. With that in mind, we ask why are nations in the Global South, including in Africa, more severely impacted by the effects of climate change?
Why are countries in the Global South disproportionately affected?
Africa is an area of the world that has contributed the least to climate change and yet is already experiencing its impacts in extreme ways. Under usual circumstances, the continent already experiences hotter temperatures than temperate zones, such as Europe. Now that the delicate balance of weather patterns and ecological stability are being disrupted, more extreme weather events are leading to unprecedented droughts, floods and dangerous heatwaves.
In Malawi, this is leading to crop failures, catastrophic damage to housing through flooding; and increased difficulties travelling to hospitals, and places of work and school. Although we are starting to feel climate change impacts in the Global North, the scale is not comparable. Access to adaptations to prepare for the climate crisis is also not comparable to more affluent regions. Flood proofing, insulation, backup food stocks and even electricity and internet, to allow working from home, are harder to access.
Globalised economic systems and power structures, world events and pressures all contribute to these challenges to access. For people living in Nkhata Bay North, this means that action on climate change cannot wait. We appeal to all world leaders to do everything in your power to help prevent these problems.
What does climate change look like?
In the UK, climate change looks like heavy rain or unusually warm days in November and intensified heatwaves in August. In countries like Malawi, the impacts of climate change mean significant food shortages and families going hungry. This leads to increased birth and infant mortality; a widening gap between rich and poor, and rebuilding lives over and over again when floods wash homes away.
I struggle with the injustice of climate change. I and the team will do everything in our power to support communities at the forefront of the climate crisisJoe Hook
Jo Hook, Temwa UK MD & Co-Founder recently visited Malawi. She says:
“The difference between the impact of climate change in the UK & Malawi is vast. In Malawi crop yields are down, leading to longer and more severe periods of hunger. Although there have been some crop failures in Europe this year, it’s not the same scale as on the African continent. In the UK I find some people still don’t want to face up to the severity of climate change. People in Malawi, however, talk openly about what they can do; they want to help regenerate and protect forests, and move to more sustainable farming methods. I struggle with the injustice of climate change. Temwa is doing everything in its power to support the communities we serve who are at the forefront of the climate crisis.”
Solutions are Available
Solutions for climate mitigation are available, and this brings us great hope. Malumbo Soko, Senior Project Officer for Temwa’s Carbon Balance and Forestry Programmes said:
“Global warming keeps on making communities more vulnerable in our catchment area, especially on food security. Crop production has become a challenge amidst prolonged dry spells, erratic and heavy rains that destroy crops. However, the carbon balance project is contributing to the resilience of our communities to these climate shocks. Through our afforestation initiative, soil fertility has improved on farming lands, as has water retention in rivers for winter irrigation. Well being of community members has also improved through economic empowerment from beekeeping in protected natural forests.”
As UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has now called for a historic pact between rich and poor countries, to help each other through the climate crisis, we recall his rousing words:
“A window of opportunity remains open, but only a narrow shaft of light remains… We hope and pray that… decisions and actions are taken to avert the worst case scenarios for climate change. The world deserves this justice, the global south deserves this justice.”
No matter the outcomes of COP27, you can support our projects to help communities in remote northern Malawi to weather the storms of climate change. Head to our donate page to set up regular giving now.