COP28: YEAC-Nigeria, Others, Join Global Wave Of Hunger Strike On Climate Action
By Obiabin Onukwugha
Civil Society Organisations, including the Youth and Environmental Advocacy Centre, YEAC-Nigeria, and Kebetkache Centre for Women Development, on Tuesday, embarked on a march in support of the ongoing Global Wave of Hunger Strike on Climate Action.
Concerned civil society organizations and citizens from around the globe joined together in the largest ever coordinated Global Wave of Climate Action with an international hunger strike in its core, aimed at ending political inaction, ineptitude and snail-paced measures towards addressing the issue of climate change and global warming.
The action which started on November 1, is intended to last up till December 12 and is aimed at calling on governments to implement policies geared towards addressing climate change, especially the Document of the Paris Agreement at the Conference of Parties (COP28), which is slated to hold in less than three weeks time in Dubai.
The CSOs during the march carried placards with different inscriptions such as; “Global Wave of Hunger Strike for Climate: We Stand in Solidarity “, “Act Now, Save the Planet”, “Climate Issues: We want action, we want change”, “Climate Change: not taking Action is a Big Risk”, “We demand Action for cleaner Environment”, Climate change contributes to flooding”, “COP28: World Leaders Address Climate issues”, President Tinibu take action on Climate Issues”, President Tinibu take action on Environmental Issues”, “Climate Change Affect Women Health”, “Climate Change Affect Women livelihood”.
Others included; “We demand Sustainable future for all”, “Impact of Climate Change is dangerous”, Mitigate Climate Issues, Save the Earth”, “Illegal refineries contribute to climate change”, “oil companies stop gas flaring, pollution”, “Government stop Environmental Pollution”, “Stop gas flaring, save the climate”.
Executive Director, Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria), Fyneface Dumnamene, while addressing journalists during the march in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said the action is to draw federal government’s attention and to chart a course for Nigeria as they go for the conference.
He said: “Today in Port Harcourt, Rivers State Nigeria, we are hunger striking. We’ve decided to go without food to call our leaders to take action concerning climate change as they gather in Dubai for the Conference of Parties (COP28).
“Climate change is affecting people generally, it’s affecting people in Nigeria, it’s affecting people in and around the world and the impact of climate change is very heavy on the people and we are trying to say that our leaders should take action to give us a safer health. They should take action to address the issue of climate change.
“We need a systemic change that will address climate change, we need a comprehensive implement of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, we need a stop to gas flaring that is contributing to climate change, we need a safer environment because the impact of climate change is affecting the people and affecting the environment.
“The earth that we live and this world we are living is a heritage and we don’t have to destroy the earth in the process of making money. So we are calling on our leaders to take action to address the issue of climate change because we are going to pass away and leave this environment to other people and we should make it better than the way we met it and not to make it worse.
“It is a global Wave of Hunger Strike for Climate. YEAC-Nigeria and Kebetkache are jointly working on this move here in Rivers State and in Nigeria and we are sending this message to our leaders because we know that the President of Nigeria is going to attend the meeting in Dubai.”
He also called for end to gas flaring, noting that Nigeria cannot take any action on climate change without first addressing the issues that lead to environmental pollution and climate change.
“The issue of climate change is a collective responsibility, we on our part don’t have the power or resources. It is our voices that we have. A lot of women suffer from flooding when it occurs as a result of climate change. They don’t have opportunity to speak, so we are using this opportunity to speak for those people; speak for the children, speak for the aged who have been affected by climate change. This is the only day we are going to be on the streets but the action started on November 1 and we are going to sustain it until December 12.
“What we want the President of Nigeria, Bola Tinibu to do when he gets to the COP, Nigeria should call for implementation of the Document of the Paris Agreement; Nigeria is working towards net zero by the year 2060, this is the time to take action that will lead us to net zero. Nigeria also recently launched the energy transition plan, let Mr. President also take action to implement that plan in Nigeria. Mr. President should also take steps to address the issue of gas flaring in the Niger Delta. We have been shifting the goal post against gas flaring and we need to address gas flaring holistically.
“There should also be a stop to environmental pollution. I believe that the president can put in place policies that can address these issues. You cannot be polluting and contributing to climate change here and be talking of addressing climate change at the same time. So we are calling for systemic change,” he added.
Also speaking, Programme Officer of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Idongesit Smart, lamented the devastating effect of climate change on women.
She said: “In the Niger Delta, our terrain is perculiar and our livelihood, especially that of women depend on the environment. Niger Delta women are known to be fisher folks and farmers. But if you look at the issues surrounding our environment you will see that women livelihood has been automatically destroyed as a result of climate change.
“Constant oil spills pollute the environment and our waters. Women don’t have water to drink because even when they dig bore holes what comes out of it is crude, kerosene. We use water to cook, we use water to wash, we use water to do everything and that is gone.
“Look at deformed babies everywhere. We have women having constant miscarriages, we see women going into early menopause, we see that glaucoma is very common among women. All these are as a result of climate change. That is why we have embarked on this hunger strike. If you destroy the environment you have automatically destroyed women because their lives depend on the environment.
“Today, we are calling on the government, especially our president, Tinibu, that as he attends the COP28 this year, he should address the issue of climate change. We need systemic change not climate change. If our system changes, automatically the issue of climate change will be addressed.”
On her part, a volunteer with YEAC-NIGERIA, Onuoha Oloachi, said climate change and environment pollution has resulted in health issues and crime among youths who should ordinarily be fishermen or farmers.
“In the Niger Delta the constant gas flaring has brought about environmental degradation. Our youths and children are going through diverse health challenges and we know to get drugs is quite expensive. Then the flooding in the riverine areas.
“Because of climate change our youths cannot farm. Most of them will like to stay back in the villages to farm to contribute to the agricultural quota of this country and take care of their parents. But because of flooding they have left the rural areas and they are concentrating in the urban areas where they don’t actually want to be. And at times they come here, because there are no jobs they become a nuisance, they become area boys, they become criminals, because there is nothing for them.
“Climate change has also affected fishing. When you go to the Niger Delta communities, they can no longer fish. So as we go for the COP28, we want our government to give us sustainable development plans. What do they want to do for us, what are their plans for climate change because things are really going overboard”, she added.