Uganda: Vanessa Nakate, Climate Activist from Uganda, Pens Letter Challenging Joe Biden

18 November 2020

Johannesburg — Vanessa Nakate wrote a letter asking U.S. President elect Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris what they are going to do about climate change, and also expressing her desire for a clean, sustainable, and equitable planet.

While her letter gained a lot of international support, it also opened her up to online trolling. But she responded to the trolls saying: "I have become a laughingstock in my own country for writing a letter to Kamala Harris and Joe Biden about demanding for an equitable and sustainable future for all of us- AND I AM LOVING IT!!! Keep the trolls coming".

"The purpose of this letter is to remind the elected President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris of the changes we really want to see in this world. We want a livable and sustainable planet for all," she said.

Nakate made headlines after participating in a workshop with other climate activists in Davos, Switzerland, during the World Economic Forum in January 2020 when Associated Press published a photo that cropped her out leaving just the four other activists — all of whom are white. She tweeted asking why she had been removed from the photo also saying: "You didn't just erase a photo, you erased a continent. But I am stronger than ever".

Two years ago this 24-year-old educated herself about climate change and environmental issues facing her community, and later began staging climate strikes every Friday in front of a parliament building to raise awareness. Her actions led to Arctic Basecamp, a team of researchers and scientists, noticing her efforts. The team invited Nakate to participate in a workshop with Greta Thunberg in Davos, Switzerland, during the World Economic Forum in January 2020.

She says being a climate change activists to her means finding solutions for the people who are being impacted by the climate crisis right now. "Because I have seen it in my country, I have seen how the changing weather patterns have destroyed homes, have destroyed farms, destroyed businesses, and left people with nothing. And that is what I want to change. I want to see justice in my country. And also in the different parts of the world that are affected the most."

To people who think that climate crisis can only be solved in the Global North, or in the countries where the emissions are the highest and solution can be achieved without the input of the Global South, Nakate says there is no climate justice if it isn't global, and if it doesn't include everyone. The Global South is a term often used in social science to refer to Africa, Asia, Latin America, and some regions outside Europe and North America, most of which are low-income.

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