Africa and Cimate Change

Published on 9th November 2009

The heated debates over changes in the climate of the world has brought Africa and Africans to the center stage of ongoing news events this week of November in Barcelona, Spain.

Industrialized nations: polluting Africa? Photo courtesy
My point is clear: Africans are demanding and setting aside diplomatic niceties to say that industrialized nations should not only embrace and put forward detailed commitments reducing carbon emissions but deal with the climatic and environmental consequences of the toxic dumps in Africa inflicted mainly by developed/western countries for more than 120 years, to date.

The principled position of all the African delegates to this November 2009 conference in Barcelona is a reminder that Africans have faced the worst forms of environmental destructions and violations which impact the climate and mortality, especially for children and pregnant women.

“People in Africa are suffering now, people are dying now, when the developed countries are not willing to express…ambitious reductions,” Kemal Djemouai, chair of the African group, said of the protest in Barcelona, as quoted by Reuters.

This meeting seeks to wrap up the draft of the formal declarations to be made at the much anticipated climate change Copenhagen Summit in December 7-18, 2009.

Before December 2009, the global discussion of the issues of climate change (as pertains Africa) must respond to the negative dynamics which emerged from the past and current actions of international/ European/ American/ Arab / Asian businesses and governments who turned the other way as harmful, toxic, material substances and properties were (and are) dumped into fishing, natural ecology and mainland parts of Africa.

The visible, towering snow peak of Mount Kilimanjaro has decreased significantly. The numbers are remarkable; for instance that Kilimanjaro’s snowcap has reduced by 85% since 1927, with one quarter of that happening from 2000 to 2007. Some scientists like paleoclimatologist Lonnie Thompson are arguing that it will be largely gone in a few years.

Truth must be told too that African governments at all levels rarely handle toxic waste well, if any knowledge or facilities, at all. There are very few toxic handling sites or recycling facilities. Ironically, some of these environmental do-gooders in the European, Asian, Arab and American continents are not supporting deeper cuts in carbon emissions. They are yet to offer thorough-going remedial actions for the evident consequences of their past and recent businesses of using Africa as their toxic dump. The other ugly truth is that a handful of African businessmen/women and government officials profited from these devastating shenanigans.

Regardless, I believe, Africa is the world’s greenest continent.

By Chido Nwangwu,

Recipient of the Journalism Excellence Award, HABJ 1997; Founder and Publisher of

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