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The AP Interview: Nakate states that ‘We want justice’ regarding climate change
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The AP Interview: Nakate states that ‘We want justice’ regarding climate change



December 10, 2021 GMT

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — The capital of Uganda coughs itself awake on weekdays under a soft blanket of smog. Kampala’s hills come into sharper focus as the morning rush of minibuses and motorbikes fades. It is this East African city that one of the world’s most well-known climate activists, Vanessa Nakate, calls home.

The 25-year-old’s riseIn profile has been fast. Three years have passed since she left Kampala with her family to protest the treatment of its only planet.

In an interview this week with The Associated Press — which last year drew international attention and Nakate’s dismay by cropping her from a photo — she reflected on the whirlwind. She spoke out about her disappointment in the outcome of the U.N. climate talks in ScotlandAnd what she and other young activists are planning for the next year.

“We expected the leaders to rise up for the people, to rise up for the planet” at the talks known as COP26, she said. Instead, the world was awash with it. could be on a pathway to warm 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times.

That’s well above the goal of limiting warming to 1.5C — and would be “a death sentence for so many communities on the front lines of the climate crisis,” Nakate said.

The signs are dire globally. The Arctic is warming three times fasterThe rest of the planet. The dramatic drop in carbon dioxide emissionsFrom COVID-19 pandemic locksdowns has almost vanished. This year, forests burned in Siberia’s weakening permafrostWhile record-breaking heatwaves across Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest brought the climate danger, deadly flooding in Europe and record-breaking heatwaves in the U.S. Pacific Northwest added to the threat. home to some who once thought they could outspend it.

However, many of the most affected communities can be found in Africa. With 1.3 billion people, they contribute less to global emissions (less than 4%), but are most likely to suffer.

In some cases, the suffering has already begun. Deadly droughts in East Africa have caused severe droughts that have killed livestock and endangered species. Water scarcity has also affected areas in West Africa and Southern Africa. As a result, millions of people from Madagascar to Somalia are hungry.

Yet, the $100 billion per year in financing promised by richer countries to help developing nations deal with the coming disaster has yet to materialize.

“We cannot to adapt to starvation,” Nakate said, her voice soft but firm as the introvert in her gives way to the convictions that have brought her this far. “We cannot adapt to extinction, we cannot adapt to lost cultures, lost traditions, to lost histories, and the climate crisis is taking all of these things away.”

The next big climate conference is in Africa, Egypt. It will give the continent the opportunity to shine.

It will be a test for activists and negotiators from Africa’s 54 countries who have long jostled for space at global climate events.

“Many times, activists in Africa have been called missing voices. But we are not missing,” Nakate said. “We are present, we are available, we are just unheard.”

As they sought to attend COP26, she watched as activists from Africa faced difficulties in securing funding, accreditation and access to COVID-19 vaccines. She spoke of feeling like she had been erased when she was younger. cropped out of an AP photo of climate activists last yearat the World Economic Forum. The AP apologized to her for her error in judgment, and the pain it caused.

But it is not enough to simply listen to Africa’s climate activists, Nakate said this week. Those in power must respond to these demands.

“We don’t want to just hear sweet phrases from them, sweet commitments,” she said. “Commitments will not change the planet, pledges will not stop the suffering of people.”

Nakate stated specifically that the leaders of government and business must take swift action to end the funding of the extraction fossil fuels like coal and oil.

She refused to mention anyone by name but was asked if Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s President, had responded to a letter she wrote regarding a controversial oil pipeline project that would ship crude oil from Uganda into neighboring Tanzania.

In fact, the 77-year-old leader has never been in contact with Nakate, who became one of the world’s most well-known Ugandans not long after graduating from university with a business degree and becoming inspired by climate activism.

In her recent book “A Bigger Picture,” Nakate reflects on how leaders’ decisions on climate have real-life consequences far beyond the data that often dominate the conversation.

She is concerned about how farmers who lose crops to climate shocks will feed their families. She also worries about how income loss can force children out school and young women into early marriage.

“This isn’t just about us wanting a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” Nakate said. “We want justice that centers the protection of the planet and the protection of the people because the climate crisis exacerbates poverty first of all. We cannot eradicate poverty if climate change is pushing millions of people into extreme poverty and keeping them in poverty traps.”

Nakate answered the question of how young climate activists can ensure they are involved in decision-making globally. He said that they are making their voices heard by creating their own platforms on social networks.

“If the table is not given to you, you make one for yourself,” she said — a message she could well tweet to her 230,000-plus followers.

In 2022, Nakate’s work will be closer to home as she pursues a project to provide schools in Uganda with solar panels and eco-friendly cookstoves to reduce the amount of firewood consumed.

“I can’t believe how fast this journey has been,” she said as she realized that within weeks it will be the third anniversary of her first climate protest in Kampala. “Activism can be very hard, a lot of work, but it takes love and grace to continue to speak.”

It also requires a certain hope, she said. As a born-again Christian, she finds that hope in God. It helps her believe that “the future you’re fighting for is actually possible and you can achieve it.”


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