Climate change equality

CarteretsIn Exeter’s link dioceses of Melanesia and Thika in Kenya, carbon emissions per person are less than ½ tonne each year. In the UK, our carbon emissions per person are more than 9 tonnes each year, and more like 15 tonnes if we factor in the emissions from making the goods that we import.

The people of the Carteret Islands (pictured), part of the country of Melanesia, are the first entire people officially to be evacuated because of climate change. Their islands are being swallowed by the sea and their crops of banana, taro and breadfruit destroyed by storm surges and extreme high tides. Rising sea levels also poison low-lying islands’ water sources, killing vegetation and livestock, and making island life impossible.

The areas suitable for growing tea in Thika and other parts of Kenya are projected to shrink as a result of climate change, which will threaten farmers’ livelihoods. Kenya is already suffering more frequent episodes of drought, less reliable water resources, and accelerating spread of diseases such as malaria.

Rich and powerful countries must accept equity as the basis for international climate change negotiations and if they do, they can help bring all nations to a common agenda, according to Kenyan theologian and ecologist Jesse Mugambi.

Climate justice for Melanesia and Thika means shrinking our own carbon footprints.