Top News

PACJA Statement on the Postponement of the UNFCCC-COP26

Nairobi, 2 April 2020 - The Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) welcomes the postponement of this year’s climate change summit, COP26, due to COVID-19. It is necessary, timely and sensible under the current circumstances. However, the Alliance warns that this sacrifice will be a wasted opportunity unless world leaders learn from the COVID-19 crisis and move decisively to prevent a climate meltdown, which presents an even graver existential danger.

Rescheduling COP26 is a significant contribution by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the international community of climate campaigners to the efforts to lower the scale of COVID-19 infections and save lives. The decision pre-empts the dampening impacts of planning disruptions that have been caused by the global shutdown to deal with the outbreak. All parties now have time to focus on the COVID-19 emergency and to regroup and re-strategise ahead of the summit sometime in 2021. It is reassuring that despite the postponement of the summit and the cancellation of numerous pre-COP events, the UNFCCC plans to maintain momentum to increase climate ambition, build resilience and lower emissions.

The current global health emergency contains important lessons for all nations and their leaders. We now know that despite unprecedented prosperity and leaps in science, engineering and technology, humankind is unprepared for disruptive change above a certain threshold, such as that set by COVID-19. In a few months, millions of livelihoods have evaporated, businesses have stalled, powerful leaders have stumbled and nations have warped. COVID-19 has also recast the distribution of global power and exposed the limitations of narrow interest politics in dealing with existential problems.

Yet, dangerous levels of climate change, projected within the next decade without ambitious mitigation actions, will be more disruptive to the global system. Even at the current ambition of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, models show that a rising sea will bury hundreds of communities, cities and entire countries. Climate-induced migration is already occurring at a scale higher than the combined displacement of people due to conflict and political strife. In Africa and much of the developing world, unpredictable rains, droughts, cyclones and pest outbreaks have increased the burdens of poverty, famines and disease. For instance, countries in Eastern Africa and the Middle East have had to deal with locust invasions in recent months and the crippling impacts on food security are yet to be quantified. In sum, a climate meltdown will rip apart economies, wipe out thousands of species and push humanity to the brinks. Its impacts will last longer and cost much more to recover from than COVID-19.

That is why we believe the world must continue to prioritise the climate as it digs itself out of the current health emergency. We have an opportunity in both COVID-19 and the alarm bells of a climate meltdown to definitively change course towards a sustainable, low-carbon and climate- resilient future, where we shall be better placed to deal with a pandemic of COVID-19’s scale. It is our duty as the civil society to continue holding governments and other non-state actors to account. Despite the lockdown, we will use other means at our disposal - especially technology - to continue observing and tracking commitments by various stakeholders.

More significantly, the postponement of COP26 must not be an excuse for those who have been hell-bent on slowing climate action to escape scrutiny, or for funders of climate action initiatives across the world to divert resources. As an annual event where we gauge the progress on the implementation of climate action commitments by various governments, the COPs are important convergences to remind, applaud and shame, as well as to share perspectives and ideas. The COPs are also a much-needed avenue for climate actors to encourage each other that even when it looks gloom due to competing geopolitical interests, there is hope for humanity and the planet. This spirit must survive the current health crisis.



Mithika Mwenda,

Executive Director





For media enquiries/interviews please contact:

Salina Sanou

Phone: +254 727 163 981 | +254 794 702 615

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read more

Covid-19 Surge Aggravates Climate Crisis in Africa

By Eugene Nforngwa
“Earth closed for repairs”.  Few jokes capture the existential crisis facing the planet right now, as the world shuts down city by city. Since it was first reported in China last December, Covid-19 has spread untamed and has quickly morphed into a global pandemic. This week, the number of infected people in all corners of the world was set to surpass half a million.  At least 21,000 have already died.

The numbers have been less dramatic but rising in Africa. Infection cases are around 600, with dozens of deaths. African governments expect the statistics to change rapidly, doubling and even tripling in a few weeks or days. And, they omit potentially thousands of infected people who have mingled in the public undetected. Past a certain threshold, public health experts expect the outbreak to spiral out of control and wreck an already perilous public health system.  “Governments must draw on all of their resources and capabilities and strengthen their response,” the World Health Organisation’s regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti has cautioned.

In many ways, Covid-19 is one of the darkest moments in global public health. The outbreak is the forewarnings of a new world order; and a test for the collective grit of mankind to deal with an emergency of global scale.  For those of us in the climate justice community, it is a premonition of what a climate meltdown might look like. For decades, scientists and advocates have warned that climate change was fomenting an existential crisis likely to disrupt global politics and economies in unrecognisable ways. That future appears more imminent today than at any other time. Last year, the UN Environment warned that “we are on the brink of missing the opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5°C.” Unless the world changes course, a climate meltdown is inevitable, and Africa will suffer the hardest blow. Pathogens and diseases have been projected to emerge as the globe warms.

Covid-19 is making that more likely. The outbreak is serving as a climate change threat multiplier, exacerbating the drivers of vulnerability on the continent, particularly persistent poverty, unequal distribution of wealth, poor resource management, conflicts, and weak infrastructure to deep mistrust between states and citizens. The outbreak will wipe out at least 30 million jobs on the continent and push down growth in many countries by an average of 2-3%, as estimated by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), which has also indicated that US$29 Billion has been wiped off Africa’s GDP for the past three weeks. On 23 March 2020, African ministers of finance warned that Covid-19 has placed additional strain on already underfunded efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the continent’s Agenda 2063 targets.

Africa is unprepared for the scale of investment that is needed to curb Covid-19 and cushion its consequences. Many governments around the continent are counting on trickling foreign aid. African finance ministers estimate that the continent needs a $100-billion economic stimulus to sustain its Covid-19 response, including the costs of lockdown measures. This is a far cry from the United States’ stimulus package of $2 trillion, an amount that has been described as the “largest fiscal stimulus package in modern American history.” Michele Barry, the Director of the Centre for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University, refers to Africa’s case as a ‘time bomb’.

The continent is in bad shape for many reasons. Globally, priorities have shifted, resources have been diverted and climate action has come to a standstill. When it is all over, Africa will be left far more incapable of recovering than the rest of the world, and even less capable than it currently is, to cope with the impacts of climate change or contribute its bit to mitigate global warming.

Decades of bad governance, marked by deep-seated corruption in many countries, capital flight and illegal resource-extraction, have also left the continent ad-libbed for the twin crises of Covid-19 and climate change. In 2019, the African Forum for Combating Corruption established that the African continent loses up to $50 billion “through corruption and illegal financial flows” every year. This is money that could have served in addressing the multiple drivers of vulnerability in Africa. African citizens have also showed extra-ordinary levels of recklessness.

Clearly Africa lacks the capacity to tackle a crisis of a Covid-19 magnitude because of its level of poverty, poor infrastructure, and inadequate social infrastructure like health facilities should the numbers rise beyond control of any country. Governments can attempt mitigating the situation by guaranteeing loans or asking lenders to loosen restrictions for borrowers as they absorb the Covid-19 shock. Tax reliefs would be another way to add money to citizens’ pockets while other taxes could be waived temporarily for investors. But the continent will need help, a lot of help, to do so.

Read more

Get Involved

Get in Touch

House No.J13, Kabarnet road, Ngong Road, Nairobi, Kenya
+254 0208075808
Email:info@pacja.org, appeals@pacja.org

For feedback or grievances contact
+254  202003621          
complaints@pacja.org, appeals@pacja.org