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Byanyima urges unity to tackle climate change

By Fredrick Mugira

Added 14th September 2018 12:14 PM

"It is an issue of people power. We need people power"

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"It is an issue of people power. We need people power"

The executive director Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima has urged people across the globe to come together in a show of "people power" to compel their governments to take action against the climate change challenge.

“Climate change is a political issue. It is an issue of people power. We need people power. That is why we were so excited by the marches,” noted Byanyima referring to the protests staged by climate change activists at the global climate change action summit in California

She was speaking at the official opening of the summit at Moscone centre in San Francisco. The summit has attracted thousands of climate change activists, scientists, business leaders and politicians among others to tackle climate change challenge.

Protesters were denouncing what they termed as the US government’s inaction on climate change. Last year, US president Donald Trump announced that US was withdrawing from the Paris agreement on climate change mitigation, saying it undermines the US economy.

The agreement sets out action plans to be taken by governments and other actors to address climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

Byanyima also called for an end to the use of coal worldwide.

“There should not be another coal plant installed in the world today and the existing ones should be scaled down as fast as possible,” she said.

Burning coal produces significant amount of greenhouse gasses which are responsible for global warming.

Speaking during the same occasion, movie actor Harrison Ford said people should stop voting leaders who do not believe in climate change science.

“We need to stop electing people who don’t believe in science, or who claim not to believe in science for their own self-interest,” stressed Ford.

He noted that humanity needs nature now more than before to survive on the earth.

“We need nature now more than ever. Nature doesn’t need nature; people need nature,” he said.

San Francisco Mayor, London Breed, called for concreted efforts to address the climate change challenge.

She said actions such as “banning the use of single use plastic bags,” matter a lot in decarbonising the world.

The summit comes about a year to 2020 when carbon emissions across the world must peak for the world is to be saved from the worst effects of climate change

And Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said this can be achieved.

“Countries are able to peak their emissions by 2020,” noted Figueres, who is now the convener of Mission 2020, a global initiative that seeks to ensure the world bends the curve on greenhouse emission by 2020.

“53 countries will be able to peak their emissions,” she disclosed, giving hope that if more action is taken, the world can be saved.

This story was supported by the 2018 Climate Change Media Partnership, collaboration between Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Foundation.

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