Climate activists have cautioned African governments against turning the direction of fossil fuel investments to develop the continent and its human capacity, noting that such dirty energy would further compound the continent’s environmental woes and derail altruistic alternatives to African development.
Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey said African continent is fast becoming a dumping ground for obsolete technology as the rest of the world move away from fossil fuels as he expressed concerns over the ongoing massive investment in fossil fuel across the continent.
Bassey also said that beyond the health hazards associated with extractivism, the African continent is now replete with exploitative markets, militarized communities, and contract labour which have combined to keep the people in bondage and the continent under-developed.
The HOMEF director made these remarks in his presentation on ‘Fossil Fuels Industry & Climate Change’ at a two-day virtual journalism training on climate change reporting in Africa organised by Corporate Accountability & Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) which had journalists from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and South Africa.
The objectives of the journalism training which held 28 and 29 April, 2021 are; Raising the bar in climate reporting in the African region; To amplify the Make Big Polluters Pay campaign and the Liability Roadmap within the region; and to birth a journalist network on climate reporting in the African region.
Bassey listed oil extraction and gas flaring, coal mining, and gold mining, as some of the extractive activities that have unleashed what he described as “ecocide” on the continent, even as he warned that new projects such as the $11 billion Dangote Refinery and Polypropylene Plant in the Lekki Free Trade Zone area of Lagos would further aggravate the situation, describing the investment as a “climate crime scene” both in the short term and in decades to come.
According to him, capitalist development which has kept Africa underdeveloped since the nineteenth century has been powered by coal, oil, and gas even as he added that extractivist pathways have been entrenched as a mechanism for colonial and neo-colonial plunder and construction of dependency.
On her own part, Ms. Ndivile Mokoena, project officer of GenderCC – Women for Climate Justice, stressed that in many of the climate reports emanating from Africa the focus has always been on the environment alone, with little or no emphasis on the intersectional impacts of climate change such as gender, socio-political and economic impacts.
With specific emphasis on gender impacts, Ndivile stressed that while women carry some of the greatest burdens of the environmental and climate crisis on the continent, they are usually left out in the decision-making and solutions pathway.
Her recommendations on the way forward include the participation of women and vulnerable groups in environmental and climate change policies; Change of current energy models; new food for food justice and switch to renewables. Others are mitigation measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Adaptation to deal with climate change and preparing future coping mechanisms, and divestment, among others.
Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director of CAPPA, urged reporters on the continent to tell the African climate story in compelling way with human effects to elicit readers interest. He said such story must have the elements of immediacy, proximity, prominence, oddity, conflict, suspense, emotion, and consequence.
Oluwafemi also recommended that journalists take a position on issues of climate justice and not sit on the fence as the fossil fuels industry would want them to.
Mr Philip Jakpor, Director of Programmes, CAPPA in his presentation on ‘Introduction to Climate Change Reporting’ said climate change reports by African journalists are usually gloom and doom without addressing what he termed “missing links”. The gaps, according to him, are inadequate background to the stories; Inappropriate language in reporting climate change, lack of proper identification of drivers of Climate Change, and absence of differentiated impacts of Climate Change, and No call to action, among others.
Other speakers include: Rachel Rose Jackson of Corporate Accountability who made a presentation on ‘The case for holding Big Polluters liable; Hellen Neima, Regional Director of Corporate Accountability Climate Campaign who educated participants on ‘Understanding Climate Treaties and Conventions’ and Jesse Bragg, Media Director of Corporate Accountability who spoke on ‘Capturing the International Audience.’