IPCC report: World must listen to communities on front lines of climate crisis, says Vanessa Nakate

Exclusive: Ugandan climate activist calls for governments to take heed of stark warnings in IPCC’s landmark report

Daisy Dunne
Climate Correspondent
Monday 09 August 2021 20:32
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Related video: 5 key takeaways from landmark IPCC climate report

The world must listen to communities living on the front lines of the climate crisis, leading activist Vanessa Nakate has said after the release of a landmark report on global heating.

The report, from the world’s leading authority on climate science, concluded that global heating is “unequivocally” caused by humans, with no region on Earth escaping its effects.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report added that the world’s goal of limiting global temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels risks slipping beyond reach without urgent and immediate action. Temperatures currently stand at around 1.2C above pre-industrial levels.

Reacting to Monday’s report, the Ugandan climate campaigner said governments must take heed of its stark findings in order to protect communities in the global south from escalating climate impacts.

“To think that we are failing to make efforts to keep global temperatures below 1.5C is really scary,” she told The Independent.

“Even at 1.2C, communities like mine, across Africa and the global south – on the front lines of the climate crisis – are already facing impacts that are destroying livelihoods, dreams and hopes.”

Many parts of sub-Saharan Africa have faced devastating extreme weather events this summer. Uganda has faced severe flooding in recent weeks, forcing hundreds to evacuate their homes.

“In the western parts of the country we are seeing massive flooding and destruction of people’s homes. We know that some of those people end up living in camps and are struggling to survive,” said Ms Nakate.

“The climate crisis is a reality for all of us in our country and we’ve seen its effects unfold.”

The latest assessment report from the IPCC is the first to offer a detailed analysis of the impacts of the climate crisis for every world region.

It says that Africa is generally heating up faster than the global average and that every part of the continent is experiencing temperatures above what would be expected in a world without the climate crisis.

The report adds that sea levels around Africa have increased at a higher rate than the global average over the past three decades.

Sea level rise is “virtually certain” to continue around Africa, it says, leading to “increases in the frequency and severity of coastal flooding in low-lying areas”.

Mohamed Adow, director of Nairobi-based think tank Power Shift Africa, said that “those living in Africa have been aware of the urgency of the climate crisis for many years”.

“Lives and livelihoods have been shattered by overwhelming heat, rising seas and extreme weather,” he said. “It is vital that governments heed the warning of the IPCC’s scientists and act with speed and boldness to make our world safer, cleaner and greener.”

Ms Nakate added that governments must urgently end new fossil fuel production if they are to get to grips with the climate crisis.

She said: “Leaders and governments are still failing to stop funding the extraction of fossil fuels. We cannot eat coal. We cannot drink oil.”

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