Kenyatta calls for “urgent action” at UN environment talks

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French President Emmanuel Macron sits among delegates at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Gigiri within Nairobi, Kenya March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
French President Emmanuel Macron sits among delegates at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Gigiri within Nairobi, Kenya March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

World leaders gathered in Kenya on Thursday for the UN environment talks, making a serious appeal for “urgent action” in the fight against climate change.  

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron were among several heads of state in Nairobi for the fourth UN Environment Assembly.

“Our youth tell us, ‘You are not moving fast enough.’ They have reason to be impatient because we’ve acted too slowly,” French President Emmanuel Macron said. “The best response to climate change is not words, but actions,” he added.

Kenyatta reinforced Macron’s message of urgency. “Current global statistics are quite sobering and projections for future generations are dire and demand urgent action,” he told delegates.

“Climate change continues to be a major threat to sustainable development worldwide. And its impact places a disproportionately heavy burden on the poor and vulnerable.”

Macron and Kenyatta co-hosted Thursday’s One Planet Summit, which was held officially at the UN Headquarters in Nairobi.

This is the first time the One Planet Summit, launched by French president Emmanuel Macron in December 2017, will be held in Africa.

Kenyatta and Macron’s sobering words are not unfounded. The earth is already experiencing fallout from its fossil fuel addiction, with climate change is driving more frequent droughts, floods and superstorms fuelled by warmer, rising seas.

Pollution from toxic and non-toxic materials is having a dire effect on global health, the UN said this week.

While Africa is responsible for only four per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, 65 percent of its population is reported to be directly affected by climate change.

“It is fitting that the first regional convening of the One Planet Summit takes place in Africa, whose nations are among the least responsible for climate change, yet face some of the worst consequences,” Amina J Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, said in closing remarks.

 

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