Civil society calls for sacrifice as climate change worsens in the first half of 2016
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16 August 2016
Author :   Nabongo Kwach and Isaiah Esipisu
The snow of Kilimanjaro is gradually disappearing : >> Image Credits by:Isaiah Esipisu

African civil society organisations at the World Social Forum in Montreal have called on human beings all over the world to make sacrifices so as to contain the worsening climatic conditions.

This comes just after two separate reports indicated that global temperatures for the first six months of 2016 were the highest ever.

“To achieve the goal of keeping the global temperature rise to well below 20C and pursuing efforts to keeping it below 1.50C as enshrined in the Paris Agreement and to further achieve the objective of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it will require a lot of sacrifices in the way we live” says Samson Samuel Ogallah of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance.

According to Ogallah, the sacrifice will require switching from the current unsustainable production and consumption lifestyle especially by the industrialised countries. “Business as usual scenario will lead the world to a 30C and above by 2030, thereby eroding any gain that may have been made from the implementation of SDGs,” he said.

According to the two studies by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS) both released in July 2016, the arctic sea ice melted early and fast, which is a clear indicator of climate change. They also indicated that carbon dioxide levels, which are driving global warming, have reached new highs.

It is reported that the Month of June 2016 marked the 14th consecutive month of record heat for land and oceans. It marked the 378th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average. The last month with temperatures below the 20th century average was December 1984.

"Another month, another record. And another. And another. Decades-long trends of climate change are reaching new climaxes, fuelled by the strong 2015/2016 El Niño," said Petteri Taalas, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Secretary-General, in a statement  released alongside one of the reports.

Taalas further observed that the El Niño event, which turned up the Earth's thermostat, has now disappeared, but climate change, caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases, will not. “This means we face more heatwaves, more extreme rainfall and potential for higher impact tropical cyclones," he added.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited leaders to a special event on 21 September to deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Paris Agreement on climate change. It will also provide an opportunity to other countries to publicly commit to the agreement before the end of 2016.

In that regard, Mithika Mwenda, the Secretary General of PACJA called for global solidarity among civil society organisations to ensure that they hold governments accountable to their commitments in the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.

The average temperature in the first six months of 2016 was 1.3°C (2.4°F) warmer than the pre-industrial era in the late 19th century, according to NASA.

NOAA said the global land and ocean average temperature for January–June was 1.05°C (1.89°F) above the 20th century average, beating the previous record set in 2015 by 0.20°C (0.36°F).

Each month was record warm. Most of the world's land and ocean surfaces had warmer to much-warmer-than-average conditions.

The El Niño event which developed in 2015 and was one of the most powerful on record contributed to the record temperatures in the first half of 2016. It dissipated in May.

The dramatic changes in temperatures and general climatic conditions were also underscored in Kenya Second National Communication Report to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which was launched recently in Nairobi.

The report noted that for the period from 1960, Kenya's temperature trends indicate that hot days per year have increased by 15.6 per cent and cold nights decreased by 4.4 per cent.

"Hot days increase highest in March to May while the rate of cold days is highest in September to November. The rate of decrease of cold nights is highest from December to February," the report noted.

The report is meant to guide the country on how to monitor and implement the recently enacted climate laws and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

In the bigger Eastern Africa region, reports indicate that Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, had mean temperature above normal in 2014/15.
There were near-normal temperatures over the eastern half of Ethiopia and cold anomalies of up to −2°C were observed over part of northern Tanzania. The warm anomalies observed in December–February expanded eastward to cover most parts of Ethiopia while cold anomalies over Tanzania during the same season expanded northeastward to cover Kenya, southeastern Ethiopia, and Somalia during March–May.

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