Remembering Cornwall, The G7 Summit 2021 & Climate Change


Friday thoughts by Shamiso Winnet Mupara, Executive Director: Environmental Buddies Zimbabwe Trust.

In August 2018 I had an opportunity to visit Cornwall, South-west England. The purpose of the trip was to visit the EDEN Project, an educational attraction featuring two enormous domes containing thousands of species of plants (pictured above).

While in Cornwall, I would visit beaches and waterfronts just to watch all sorts of ships come and go. For someone like me who comes from a landlocked country, watching the ships was like having an aerial view of the rush hour traffic times in Harare. I spent hours on end enjoying watching the big ships, the small ones, colourful ships and of cause the gigantic cargo ships.

What I remember most about Cornwall was the beautiful cool sunny weather, compared to the heatwave I had experienced in London weeks prior. The experience felt blissful, but I have always wondered how long the good weather conditions will last, with climate change and global warming threatening to change it all.

Watching the news today 11 June 2021, The G7 world leaders have followed my steps, converging in Cornwall to make big decisions that will affect us in a huge way. Hot issues to be discussed: Trade, Climate change and Covid-19 Vaccinations.

Although we can be happy that climate change is part of the big discussions, we can only be truly happy when policies to reduce greenhouse gasses have been put into action.  Often, there is just a lot of talk with no matched effort to stick to the agreements or act them out.

The same morning that the leaders are set to talk about climate change there was breaking news of Monsoon weather coming too soon to India, coupled with heavy rains that are threatening to flood most parts of the country, which might displace thousands of people.

It does not end there; World Food Program fears a famine in Ethiopia caused by a decade long persistent droughts, poor yields, and civil unrest. The civil unrest is making food distribution very difficult. The Ethiopian leadership insists, there is no such thing, and they have everything under control, yet truckloads of food belonging to World Food Programme are seen distributing food in remote areas of Ethiopia to an estimated 350 000 who are at risk.

People are so hungry; they are all gathered, crammed together, without giving a thought to COVID -19 safety precautions.  Hunger is a bigger pandemic than COVID-19. As always in cases of hunger and famine, children are always first to succumb evidenced by a 14-year-old young boy who has been hospitalised due to malnutrition. It was heart-breaking to watch his uncle lament how the hunger has turned his ‘strong as a Lion’ nephew into a weakling and fear he might not come out alive.

We can ponder, if Joe Biden’s first G7 summit as US President and the first in-person G7 summit since the COVID-19 pandemic can shift the Climate Change goal posts, especially for billions of people in the global south who are the most affected by climate change.  Hunger, floods, cyclones, droughts, deforestation, increasing in malaria cases, increasing in incidences of destructive pests and diseases have become an everyday occurrence.  I have always described past climate change discussions as ‘pep talks’ because they never echoed the right urgency, volume, and financing needed to tackle the crisis.

Taking action:

1)  G7 and G20 must finance climate change mitigation actions especially for developing countries who are the least contributors to climate change yet remain the most affected.

2) Countries need to meet their Nationally Determined Commitments to reduce greenhouse gases.

3) Plant a tree today

4)  We need to shift to cleaner energy such as solar and biogas

5) Reduce use of fossil fuels

6) Rainwater harvesting must be a lifestyle.

7) Reuse, recycle and reduce waste.

 

Climate change is more of a pandemic than COVID19 because we can’t vaccine it away!