THE East African Regional Youth Summit on Climate Change opened in Mwanza last week and participants deliberated on the impact of weather change on the region.
The conference, organised by the East African Community Students Union in collaboration with the Tanzania Youth Vision Association, deliberated on the impact of climate change and reiterated the need for developed countries to cut on carbon emissions.
In her opening remarks, the East Africa Community Deputy Secretary General, Hon Jessica Eriyo said governments are in the process of negotiating a new universal climate change agreement, which is set to be adopted in Paris in 2015 and enter into effect in 2020.
Based on views and proposals from governments, the co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), the body tasked with the negotiations, have made key material available in advance of the next negotiating session from 20 to 25 October 2014.
The material that cochairs Mr Kishan Kumarsingh and Mr Artur Runge-Metzger have published includes a note that reflects on progress made at the previous ADP session, as well as a paper presenting views and proposals of governments on the elements for a draft negotiating text for the 2015 agreement.
According to the cochairs, the material also includes a draft decision on information that governments will provide when they communicate their contributions to the 2015 agreement and a draft decision on continuing important mitigation-related work in the period up to 2020.
The material captures the collective progress that has been made thus far on the road to Paris. It aims to facilitate the understanding of issues and options on the table. The project coordinator, Mr Fazal Issa said that the climate change financing should be in the form of grants and not loans, and that climate change should be more of adaption than mitigation.
Mr Issa noted that there was some of discussion on whether to continue with conventions or step aside, but the answer was to continue with conventions with hope that one day there will be solution towards climate change.
The EAC Regional Youth President, Mr Angaja Fumelisha said that Regional Youth Summit is a platform that brings together young people from different parts of East Africa to address various challenges.
He said the youth meet once every year to discuss issues such as the EAC integration agenda, and how to take advantage of the opportunities that it (integration) presents. The Mwanza conference brought together over 200 participants mostly from secondary schools and institutions of higher learning.
This year, the forum is focusing on climate change. Climate change is already wrecking lives in Africa. Changing weather patterns and extreme weather events, such as floods or droughts, have had debilitating consequences on the regional agricultural production.
Miss Chepugechi Rop from Kenya said these changes have led to unreliable farming seasons. A December 2009 estimate put the number of people facing starvation across East Africa at 23 million as a result of successive failed rainy seasons.
In the COMESA-EACSADC, climate change effects include increased frequency of extreme weather events, flooding, storms, and droughts, which have affected the region's food production and its progress towards poverty reduction.
Climate change may also spark conflict between and within nations as resources become scarcer and disasters destroy livelihoods. Silvia Rwambo from Tanzania said, in order to develop a unified African position on Climate Change, the programme is engaging key stakeholders such as farmer organisations, women, youth and children to participate in climate change decision-making processes, strategies and interventions.
"Thus this three-day Youth Summit on Climate Change is a great platform to engage young people to build regional and continental consensus for the African Climate Solution", said Rwambo. Job Semboje from Tanzania said that The United States and China took cautious step toward bilateral cooperation on climate change policy.
The two countries signed eight partnership pacts in Beijing to promote the exchange of research and technology for greenhouse gas-cutting initiatives.
Consensus between the world's two biggest carbon emitters is critical to forming a new global climate pact to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, but the nations have long sparred over how to address climate change.
Both sides remain reluctant to commit to sweeping reductions in emissions unless the other party takes the plunge, too, and leaders have long struggled to agree on how the costs of reducing carbon should be split among rich and poor nations.
The problem here is fairly obvious; politics, the subject of global warming was corrupted by politics from the outset and the nation immediately divided down political lines.
"Beyond that there is no doubt whatsoever that we pour untold sums of horrid and deadly toxins into our atmosphere and to even suggest that it doesn't have some degree of effect is, well... simply illogical said," Mr Semboje said.