written In collaboration with Lorena Gridelli
Interviews conducted and images provided by Ruth Mawia Mwanzia
Kenya, and other developing nations, are suffering the most effects from climate change leading to climate injustice, as narrated by farmer John Mbithi.
John Mbithi, a part-time farmer in Kenya, talks about how climate change has impacted his life and farming in Kenya: ”We rarely get enough rains or experience dry seasons making it hard to get enough food production for domestic and commercial use like before.”. He explains how in past years natural rain would be enough for his harvest yet now the dry season has become increasingly prevalent to the point that it is rare for rainfall to be enough for farming, this problem is found all over Africa with countries such as Tanzania facing similar issues. It is visible how a developing nation such as Kenya can be heavily affected by climate change. It is a country that has a large population that heavily relies on agriculture, a nation where relative to its size emits small amounts of pollutants to the atmosphere, yet sees itself every time more and more affected by the emissions of developed countries.
Other countries outside of Africa are having climate-change-related issues, such as Bangladesh where the rising sea levels are making it that every year there is less and less arable land for farming and growing crops.
Climate justice is an essential part when talking about fighting climate change in the 21st century. It is often that we are presented with the idea that everyone around the world should hold hands and together fight against climate change, lowering emissions and reducing waste. On the surface this concept is a positive one, however, real climate justice is not just about what to do about going forward but also looking back on the past and identifying the sources of the issues.
Priviledged Developed Nations
Developed nations such as the United States have had decades of pollution on their backs which have gotten the world to where it is right now while also having a headstart in terms of industrialization at a time when climate change was not considered a world issue. Meanwhile, emerging economies such as Kenya are the ones suffering the most from climate change since they do not have a safety network to fall back on and ones that will have a harder time industrializing considering that they need to accomplish this in a responsible eco-friendly manner. Therefore, climate justice should be adapted to the individual needs of each nation while holding nations accountable for their past. At the same time, there should be a collective effort put into helping developing nations protect themselves from the catastrophes that are already affecting them due to the crisis.
One must acknowledge that even though Climate Change is a collective responsibility of the world and the need for a plurinational collaboration to solve this is widely accepted, we should admit that not every nation is equally responsible. There are many things that the population can do to help and many diverse courses of action to be taken, such as a proposal stated by Mbtini, “Charity begins at home … I was thinking about what if every student or pupil all schools were to plant a tree every month, what if we as a nation we had a tree planting day every year…”, these efforts help the local ecosystem of the country and have an effect upon the communities within the nation, however, this needs to happen all over the world, with a special contribution from developed nations which have put the world in the state where it is now.
Despite some of the terrible effects of climate injustice mentioned above, what came out from these interviews is not just a harsh criticism of governments and big corporations, but a message of hope and individual activism. As John Mbithi said, “It’s not too late to take actions, every personal action we take today has an impact in mitigating the effects of climate change. Remember that rivers are caused by raindrops, every drop is important to have a river of water”.