Climate Activist Leah Namugerwa calls for Climate Action in Cities

Speech delivered at World Habitat Day 2021 in Yaounde, Cameroon

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4 October 2021, Habitat Day celebrations, Yaounde, Cameroon. – My name is Leah Namugerwa, from Uganda. A climate activist fighting for everyone’s survival. I call my self the voice of the voice less.

Ever since I got to know about climate change my heart is saddened, it feels like am living in a nightmare. My dreams are fractured, my future is stolen, my present is broken, the climate isn’t safe and from that time i stopped living as a child. I no longer cut cake on my birthday but rather I plant trees as one of the ways to save the dying planet. I mean what better way to celebrate a birthday than to give a gift of life. I volunteered to be that wakeup call to the sleeping humans everytime an opportunity comes to up.

The planet is undergoing a massive, auncontrolled experiment, rapidly revealing what happens when 2.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide per second (and still rising) are added to the atmosphere. All of humanity is participating in this experiment, either directly contributing to it or feeling its impacts. Humans have already warmed the planet by at least 1 degree Celsius by burning fossil fuels that eject heat-trapping gases into the sky. Almost every part of the world is experiencing the effects of climate change.

Half of the global population already lives in cities, and by 2050 two-thirds of the world’s people are expected to live in urban areas. But one of the most pressing problems facing the cities is environmental degradation. Therefore poor air and water quality, insufficient water availability, waste-disposal problems, and high energy consumption will worsen by the increasing population and demands of urban environments. Strong city planning will be essential in managing these and other difficulties as the world’s urban areas swell.

If you aren’t terrified by climate breakdown, you don’t understand its full irreversible implications. This is just the truth and there is a good reason to say it: So far we are not collectively scared enough to tear down the fossil fuel industry and that needs to change fast. When the world is trying to break away from fossil fuel my nation and the neighbours are building a crude oil pipeline.

There are so many untold stories about the construction of EastAfrica crude oil pipeline EACOP. It is so hurting that no one is bothered of lost forest cover during construction. No one is bothered of lost homes of so many animals. No one is talking about the number of wildlife lost everyday because of the construction of EACOP. Who is there to stand in for the voice less . Who cares that at what cost are all these things achieved.

In order to get to net zero there is going to be need for governments to take bold decisions, we are not breaking our dependence on fossil fuels nearly fast enough. The gaps between words and action are helping the fossil fuel companies grow and continue to pollute. There is need to Ban most of the biggest city polluters.

Cities have to come up with strategies for reducing overall car use and promote emissions free modes of travel like walking and cycling and even encourage public transport which has to be accessible, convenient and affordable to convince people to use.

Low carbon architecture is a very important sector that needs to be given quality time. The world has witnessed what mother nature can do when not planned for. The stability of nature can no longer be taken for granted. It is wise for low carbon design of buildings to go hand in hand with features that help mitigate the existing impacts of climate change like heavy rainfalls and high temperatures.

The way we get and use our energy consumes natural resources and emits greenhouse gas. I am getting tired of “ we’re running out of time to act”. Every year we keep saying the same thing. Are we waiting for the last tree to be cut? For the last river to dry? What are we waiting for to see and know that we already ran out of time.
There is an agent need to turn to renewable energy.

To achieve a better, just, and more-sustainable future for the planet, we must come together and through grassroots advocacy, create the change we need to see each one of us can also help to make a difference.

It’s time for our leaders to act because our future depends on it.

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