Water, they say is life. In fact, without water, life can be tough if not outright impossible. “Thousands have lived without love,” W. H Anden once said, “not one without water. This may sound as one of those common overused clichés, but sadly, it isn’t. This is is nothing but the truth, the whole truth. Nobody can live without water.
Now, the million dollar question therefore is, with all the climate change trends and patterns going on in the world right now, do all people from all walks of life access clean water?
The answer is a resounding NO as people across the globe especially in the third and developing world still struggle to access clean water due to so many factors and chief among them is because the times have changed and so has the climate patterns and trends.
The Sub-Saharan African region is one of those areas that have been hard-hit by climate change and global warming and former British colonies, Zambia and Malawi are no exception to the life-threatening iniquities brought forth by the new environmental deviations.
By all means necessary, issues of climate change must be faced head on if people must continue to live a better life, and again for just cause of this and the next generation. Something must be done now or the human race will face extinction and wiped from the face of the earth.
It is against this background that the School of Engineering and Built Environment at the metropolitan Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) which operates under a slogan; a ‘university for the common good’ in Scotland embarked on a mission to address the need for countries which have benefited most from fossil fuel-based economic growth to help the most vulnerable nations to address climate change and to adopt a climate justice approach to this global challenge.
Glasgow Caledonian University spurred by the urgency of this need established Centre for Climate Justice (CCJ) to consider the exploration and examination of impacts of climate change upon human health in line with the topical changes in climate that have altered distributions of infectious disease vectors and an upward trend in extreme weather events with the financial help from the Scottish government through the Climate Justice Fund to the tune of MK600 million (£600, 000. 00)
Centre for Climate Justice was thus established to relate to issues of climate justice, solely focussing on the impacts of climate change upon the most vulnerable communities and individuals in the targeted areas.
The Glasgow Caledonian University in its quest to promote and uphold climate change justice and social order on the planet offers a one year (or two years part-time) specialised Masters Degree in Climate Justice to scholars and academics.
‘The repository concept’
Nyasa Times understands that the concept for the repository was born from a conversation between Dr Mary Robinson and Professor Pamela Gillies, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University, when the former gave a lecture at the university, entitled: Climate Justice – Challenges and Opportunities.
During that time, Dr Robinson in her talk outlined the need for rich and developed countries to stretch out a hand of support to help the most vulnerable nations deal with climate change and to espouse a climate justice approach to this global challenge.
Scotland is one of the first countries in the world to adopt climate change legislation.
Said Dr. Robinson: “Enshrining your mitigation commitments in law demonstrates not just a desire to act but also a willingness to be held accountable by your citizens and the international community.”
She said there is no single portal through which good quality information and knowledge-based research could be accessed on the wide variety of topics arising from the climate change agenda and, in particular, its social and economic impacts of climate change in developing countries.
In her address Dr Robinson encouraged both the Scottish government and civil society to “come a step further and become champions of climate justice.”
The GCU’s Principal and Vice Chancellor, Professor Gillies observing and recognizing the urgency of matter, she took it to her chin and swiftly undertook to address the gap and tasked Professor Tahseen Jafry to lead a team of academic researchers in identifying how best this might be achieved.
Thus, the idea of the repository was conceived: to build a resource which might assist anyone concerned about or working on the ethics and socio-economic factors of climate change and their impact on humanity, especially the most vulnerable.
‘Dosage of reality’
In an interview, Centre for Climate Justice Professor Tahseen Jafry said the creation of the centre is a first not only for Scotland but for the world.
“The centre is a first of its kind not only for Scotland but for the world,” said Professor Jafry.
Professor Jafry explained that a global climate agreement which is fair, equitable and includes adequate mechanisms for funding the levels of mitigation and adaptation investment required is sketched out in the Global Leadership for Climate Action (GLCA framework) and it contains innovative ideas for the implementing and financing of low-emissions development in the energy and agricultural sector.
According to Professor Jafry, Global Leadership for Climate Action was established in 2007 as collaboration between the Club of Madrid and the UN Foundation, with the aim of mobilising political will for a post-2012 agreement on climate and to develop a framework for the latter which addresses barriers to agreement.
Professor Jafry said the Centre for Climate Justice is currently running a climate justice on ‘water for all’ project in Malawi and Zambia in partnership with University of Malawi’s centre for Social Research and University of Lusaka in a drive to provide a conducive environment for people of all backgrounds to access clean water amidst the ongoing climate change injustices through research and findings of what can best be done to improve peoples’ livelihoods in the two countries.
Speaking in a separate interview, GCU’s research manager and team member of the Centre for Climate Justice, Dr Ted Scanlon propagated that developed countries should take the lead saying all countries should collectively reduce global emissions by at least 60% below the 1990 level by the year 2050.
“Developing countries’ engagement in this process should be differentiated by their responsibilities and capabilities. More research is needed into improving measurement methods for stocks of carbon, both above- and below-ground, as well as on the capacity of forests with different constituent species to take up carbon. Strong mitigation measures are needed to minimise adaptation costs,” said Dr Scanlon.
The ‘greening’ of energy sectors in developing countries including Malawi and Zambia and the sub-Saharan Africa is estimated at between US$20-34bn per annum.
A comprehensive climate change agreement would need to be underpinned by flows of around £50bn each year, which could be met substantially by revenue from carbon finance.
In another interview with Nyasa Times programme lead and senior lecturer at CGU’s school of Engineering and built Environment, Dr Malawi Ngwira, a Malawian academic, explained it is a dose of reality that climate change justice is one of the most important issues at the moment and that there is need for all stalk-holders and key players to come together to address the situation.
Ngwira further explained that directions for the future on immediate targets for mitigation are pegged at developed countries to reduce their collective emissions by 30% in the next four years and that rapidly industrializing countries should commit to reduce their energy intensity by 30% by 2020.
“Developing countries must commit to energy intensity targets differentiated by their responsibilities and capabilities and at the same timer long-term policies and measurable, verifiable targets should be adopted to increase renewable energy use and greater energy efficiency,” said Ngwira.
A team from CGU’s Centre for Climate Justice has just returned from Lusaka, Zambia where they recently met their partners from University of Malawi and University of Lusaka at Grand Palace Hotel for a review and revaluation meeting to map up a way forward on the project on “Water for All” full of enthusiasm and renewed oomph to step up the work-rate stakes on the project.
GCU’s Centre for Climate Justice, a centre of excellence in climate justice research, was previously funded by the Scottish Government via Scotland’s Climate 2020 Group for a campaign encouraging communities in Malawi to replace dangerous and costly kerosene lamps, batteries and candles with environmentally friendly solar lighting that helps families to tackle poverty.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :