Centre ‘Just’ actions on the African People, Activists warn

Centre ‘Just’ actions on the African People, Activists warn – photo from PACJA’s event at sidelines to ARFSD8

Kigali, Rwanda, 4 March 2022: African climate activists meeting have cautioned against the commodification of climate crisis. According to them “it is all about people”.

Speaking on the sidelines of the eighth African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, Robert Muthami, a climate policy expert and a Programme Coordinator at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, said that amidst the climate crisis, economic losses, as a result, were now estimated at USD520 billion annually.

“In the end, it is human life that is at stake hence a social crisis. And this is what should inform the debates around just transition,” he added.

According to Muthami, the call for means of implementation with the required political will must be people-centered.

“When, we in Africa demand raising  ambition to address the climate crisis coupled with insecurity and the covid-19 crises from the background of common but differentiated capacities and respective capabilities, what we want from Africa is urgent action to save livelihoods which are already at dire risk,” he said.

Muthami added that “science has time and again shown that a rise of temperature above 1.5 degree Celsius will incapacitate the African people to adapt. “And am not sure if this is what those in the developed north want.”

Tracy Sonny, a Board Member of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) -one of ‘Africa’s largest coalition of climate activists who clamour for fair and just climate regimes for the African people, noted that the danger facing Africa emanates from bilateral agreements with the governments in the West. As a result, most governments do not invest in what they commit and have remained on the fossil fuel development pathway.

“The idea of just transition originated from the global north. The preservation of capitalistic interests was at the core of this idea before trade union movements were co-opted from the perspective of securing employment opportunities,” she said.

Tracy further posited that, “the concept articulates principles and demands aimed at ensuring workers and their communities are not disadvantaged by environmental protection policies, and if this is left unchecked, can deeply compromise on environmental and social safeguards.”

Centre ‘Just’ actions on the African People, Activists warn – group photo of the participants in the ARFSD8 at Kigali

“The idea has gained traction since the publication of ‘Guidelines for a Just Transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all’ by the International Labour Organisation in 2015 and following its inclusion in the preamble of the Paris Agreement adopted in the same year. But different institutions, this concept has varied definitions, not least in Africa,” she concluded.

In Muthami’s own words: “Just Transition is an inclusive support mechanism of climate action, and not a concept to slow down action. It is a tool aimed at smoothening the shift towards a more sustainable society and providing hope for the capacity of a green economy to sustain decent jobs and broadly livelihoods for all.”

Eugene Nforngwa, the Energy Thematic Lead at PACJA emphasised that the expression encompassed a range of concerns over the likely negative effects of the decarbonisation of multiple sectors on equality, human rights, access to resources and development.

“There is now an increasing need for a broader conversation that includes questions around development rights, as nations forgo certain types of productive activities to align with global decarbonisation goals,” he said.

Eugene added that, “this includes risks of stranded asset stranding as nations and other actors phase out fossil fuels and certain extractive sectors (upon which most developing economies rely). Analysts in certain fields have coined the expression “”just development” “to embrace this burgeoning scope”.”

Hope Okuthe, a staff of PACJA, puts it in plain language: “Just Transition should be by the people and for the people supporting local development with Africa leading the solutions. This should not be a trade-off between transition and development.”

“Africa needs to guard against polluters taking control of her desire to transit to low carbon. In such a context the risk to compromise ‘Africa’s future with a high cost of energy mix is real,” asserted Jiata Ekele from Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet).


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here