On the 21st of September 2019, Africa Unite participated in a global strike on Climate Change. The strike took place around the world, including participation from 15 our countries in the African continent with strike action from Nigeria, South Africa, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Mauritius, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Reunion, Madagascar, Namibia, Rwanda, Niger, Djibouti to even Kenya. This was the 3rd Global strike on climate change following the first strike which was inspired by a Swedish student who started striking solo each Friday in 2018. Since then there have been many marches and strikes, but none as big as this one. Vox declared that there were 2500 climate change events in over 150 countries. On the 20th of September, many marched to Cape Town parliament for the Climate Change strike, including the high school children from Africa Unite’s School Club program. The kids seemed to have enjoyed it for the most part and it was a great way to get the youth motivated to make a change within their community as there were discussions and artistic acts on the issue.
In preparation for the climate change strike, our Africa Unite School Club’s partnered with hosted Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) to conduct sessions that aimed to inform AU’s high school students of the current environmental crisis. It covered topics such as those who are major contributors to global warming, the impacts of global heating, what global heating is, the injustices of climate change and what the youth can do to disrupt this current climate catastrophe. The students responded positively to the sessions and many felt empowered to place their energy in bringing the change they wish to in their future.
The purpose of the sessions was to work with teenagers from diversified schools to capacitate the youth on becoming leaders in the movement against climate change. Climate change affects the most vulnerable, and the youth living in the townships whose voices are often marginalised need to be heard regarding the topic. The solution needs to eliminate the inequalities that affect the most vulnerable. Therefore, creating a space for participation from students in these areas will increase the diversity of the movement, meaning the solution will be more inclusive and acknowledging.
After the release of the 2018 Inter Governmental Panel of Climate Change, a report from the leading climate scientists stated that we only have 11 years to make urgent changes to the current way we participate in a society that is not considerate of the enviroment. If we continue at this rate, burning fossil fuels, the world is on its way to a disastrous increase of temperature at 3 degrees Celsius. According to the Climate Home News the reports summary is as follows:
- “The world has already warmed by 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times due to human activity. On current trends, it is likely to pass the 1.5 mark between 2030 and 2052. Earth is warming faster than the oceans and the Arctic is warming at 2–3 times the global average rate.
- There is a time lag between greenhouse gas emissions and their effect on the climate. This means the world is warming and the sea level is rising.
- We will only see more heatwaves, drought and flooding.
- Sea levels are expected to rise 10cm higher this century. This exposes an extra 10 million people to climate change effects like coastal flooding which causes saltwater to contaminate drinking water supplies.
- Those who will be most affected are unfortunately not part of the major greenhouse gas emitters. Meaning global heating creates injustice as those unable to resourcefully deal with the impacts are ones who experience the most damage.
- The global heating also expands the range of disease carrying mosquitoes which means more people could potentially get infected by malaria.
The anticipated catastrophe of climate is a threat to all vulnerable communities as there will be more climate-change refugees, scarce resources, food insecurity, droughts and increased natural disasters.
Just a few years back, Cape Town experienced one of its most severe droughts. An inequality of resources we further embedded as only those were money could afford Jo Jo tanks and could put in the infrastructure to deal with the water crisis. Not engaging with the pending climate emergency would be neglectful to human rights. Therefore, recommendations are:
- To empower the youth with continued education and opportunities to engage with the topic of Climate Change.
- To support students in supporting sustainable solutions in their schools and communities such as initiatives where more Jo Jo tanks, solar panels, trees and community gardens are installed.
- To get the youth more involved in activism that addresses the Climate Change issue as well as raise awareness around the severity of it and the injustices of Climate Change.
We would like to thank AIDC’s for the multiple lectures they delivered to our AUSC’s and we are hoping to see various climate change awareness campaigns from our learners.