The Progressive


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For Immediate Release

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Africa Speaks Out on Climate Change

The climate witnesses will testify about the impacts which climate is already having


Emeritus Archbishop
Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson, Honorary President of Oxfam
International and former UN commissioner for human rights, will hear
testimony from people living on the climate front line at a special
tribunal in Cape Town.

The climate witnesses from across Africa will testify about the
impacts which climate change is already having on their lives. Tutu and
Robinson will relay these messages to African and world leaders at the
UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen at the end of the year. Over 125
hearings, involving more than half a million people, are being held in
17 countries ahead of the Summit which is set to agree a global deal to
tackle climate change.

Climate change is a huge threat to development in Africa. Despite
contributing less than 3 per cent of global emissions the continent
will be hit hard. Scientists predict serious impacts on the production
of many staple foods - with the average yields of maize in Southern
Africa projected to decline by 30 percent. The number of people without
adequate access to water on the continent is predicted to triple to 600
million by 2050.

Climate witnesses from Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Ethiopia and South Africa
will be attending the hearing which is being organised by Oxfam
International and South Africa's Environmental Monitoring Group. Rachel
Hesselman, a small-scale rooibos tea farmer from the Suid-Bokkeveld
region in South Africa has worked hard to make the most of the
opportunities which have opened up since the first democratic
elections. She now sells organic fair trade certified rooibos tea to a
growing local and foreign market. However her hard-won gains are being
threatened by drought and rising temperatures.

International climate talks are now entering their second week in
Bangkok. There are just 9 weeks to go till Copenhagen but many crucial
issues - including how much new money is going to made available to
help poor countries adapt to a changing climate - have yet to be

Oxfam is calling for industrialized countries to take responsibility
for the crisis they have created by delivering at least $150 billion a
year in new money to help poor countries adapt to the changing climate
and by cutting their domestic emissions by at least a 40 percent cut by
2020 (relative to 1990 levels).

Mary Robinson, Honorary President of Oxfam International, former UN Commissioner on human rights said:

"The testimony of women and men who are already struggling to cope
with a changing climate is a powerful reminder of what is at stake in
the international climate negotiations. Already impoverished
communities across Africa stand to lose so much because of a climate
crisis in which they have played no part. Their voices - and their
demands for a fair, ambitious and binding climate deal - deserve to be
heard by political leaders in Africa and across the globe."

Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu said:

"In the same way the South African Truth and Reconciliation
Commission bore witness to the injustices of apartheid, this hearing
will bear witness to the injustice of climate change. World leaders
must not turn their backs on the people from across Africa and around
the world who are struggling to cope with a changing climate. They must
deliver the emissions reductions and the financial support that is
needed now to prevent a human catastrophe."

Irungu Houghton, Pan Africa Director for Oxfam International said:

"African leaders must the listen to people living on the climate
front line. They must work together to press for a global climate deal
that meets the needs of their poorest people and they must act at home
to help their most vulnerable communities adapt."

Oxfam International is a global movement of people who are fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice. We are working across regions in about 70 countries, with thousands of partners, and allies, supporting communities to build better lives for themselves, grow resilience and protect lives and livelihoods also in times of crisis.