A multi-faith gathering at the All African Council of Churches has heeded to call to have Africa speak in the strongest terms possible against fossil fuels and extractive industry because of the evident human rights violations, family displacements, cultural interference, and the impacts on the environment .
Speaking during the launch of the GreenFaith-Africa office in Nairobi, the GreenFaith Global Director for Advocacy, Meryne Warah has said faith communities are best placed to speak truth to power because Africa has enough renewable natural capital which when utilize can make the continent energy sufficient.
“We have enough renewable natural capital that can be harnessed to provide energy in Africa while at the same time living harmoniously with biodiversity,” said Ms Warah.
The meeting was attended by representatives of indigenous communities, women and youth from several parts of Africa, including Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, Tanzania, Uganda and the DRC. There were also faith leaders from the Muslim, Hindu, Christian, and other communities.
On his part Rev. Dr Gibson Lesmore, the Director of Programs at the AACC, said: “We, as human beings, have a moral duty to preserve the embodiment of God in humanity, and that is by protecting our habitats.”
He rebuked efforts to sustain fossil fuels proliferation by playing with the language, especially at the global climate talks. “They are now talking of phase-down when we need a phase-out. The oil exploration in Africa is aided by insiders. We know the insiders, but we are not telling them the truth. Let us be united to speak truth to power around issues of climate change because these are matters of life and death. Silence is violence,” he said.
Tanzania and Uganda shared videos of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) affected persons, many complaining about poor compensation for land taken and disrespect for their kin’s graves during displacement, among other ills. Nigeria had evidence of oil spills and gas flaring in Port Harcourt, in the Niger Delta, which has polluted rivers and the soil, killing the farming and fishing communities’ sources of livelihood, and increasing cases of respiratory and other diseases.
He called for more attention to the solutions different African and indigenous communities offered. “Listen to African indigenous knowledge and nature-based solutions, even in the face of development and technological advancement,” he said, adding that the global North’s efforts to dangle the carbon market when they had refused to honor the $100 billion climate fund pledge was pretentious. “Faith communities are our only hope. We must not politicize issues of climate change. Capitalism places its efforts on profits against human well-being. Matters of climate change are matters of life and death. No hypocrisy. No deceit. No lie,” he said.
GreenFaith Executive Director Rev. Fletcher Harper said: “Africa is on the frontline of the climate crisis. Global North corporations want to exploit the continent’s resources and addict Africa to fossil fuels. This is patently immoral. Our GreenFaith Africa team is campaigning for clean, safe, affordable, reliable energy for every African. We’re calling for millions of green jobs to lift people from poverty. We demand an immediate stop to new fossil fuel projects and loss and damage funds for those who have suffered permanent losses from climate change. Our faiths require nothing less.”