By Kofi Adu Domfeh
Climate change is the biggest challenge of our time, says Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General and Chair of the Elders, an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights.
According to him, global warming threatens the well-being of hundreds of millions of people today and many billions more in the future.
“It undermines the human rights to food, water, health and shelter — causes for which we, as Elders, have fought all our lives. No one and no country will escape the impact of climate change," he has stated.
Developing countries, especially those in Africa, are the most impacted region in the world yet contribute the least to the greenhouse gases which cause climate change.
African climate change activists under the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) have therefore been fighting against climate change injustices perpetuated by polluter countries.
They have demanded that industrialized countries urgently close the emission gap to keep temperature rise to below 1.5ºC.
Rev. Dr. Tolbert Thomas Jallah, Jr., the Secretary General of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA), says African civil society organizations have an opportunity to make former President John Kuffour an ally to effectively place the African priority on the global stage of climate change talks.
Mr. Kuffour was bestowed the 2007 Climate Change Award by the International Jury of the Climate Change Award Foundation, a European Union (EU) Foundation.
As a UN Special Envoy on Climate Change, he is currently mobilizing political will among world leaders to legally agree to limit rising global temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius.
“I think it’s an opportunity that we, as civil society, need to tap on and ensure that President Kuffuor, who is a true African and who has fought on many issues concerning Africa, should be able to bring the voice of the African people on the issue of climate justice, equity and accessibility of the Green Climate Fund,” said Rev. Dr. Tolbert Jallah.
In 2015, world leaders would be expected to drive renewable energies, set an internationally agreed price for carbon and secure a universal, legally binding climate deal at the Conference of Parties (COP21) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).
Ahead of the COP, the UN has called for a Climate Leaders Summit in September this year as a critical moment when leaders must use their influence to trigger global action.
"This is a decisive year,” Mr. Annan has stated. “It is imperative that governments and corporate leaders come to this summit committed to ambitious actions on the climate if we are to stand a chance to reach an agreement in 2015 commensurate with the challenge.”
The FECCIWA Secretary-General believes there is no better opportunity than now for CSOs in Africa to influence global decisions on climate change, especially at the UN Climate Leaders Summit.
“Over the coming months, the Elders will appeal for bold leadership from governments, businesses and citizens to achieve a carbon-neutral world by 2050. If ever there were a cause which should unite us all, old or young, rich or poor, climate change must be it," said Kofi Annan.