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Caritas Zambia Urges Government to Strengthen Policies to Address Climate Change

Caritas Zambia Livelihoods and Climate Change Specialist, Ms. Musamba Mubanga speaking at a COP26 side event in Glasgow, Scotland. Credit: Caritas Zambia

The leadership of Caritas Zambia has called on the country’s government to strengthen the policies and programs so as to address the current impact of climate change in the Southern African nation. 

In a statement obtained Monday, November 22, Caritas Zambia officials highlight the importance of policies that combat climate change.

“We would like to urge the government to strengthen policies, plans and programs in order to address the irreversible and inadaptable climate change impact currently taking place,” officials of Caritas Zambia say. 

They point out the need for the government to put more finances into supporting communities that have been affected by “Loss and Damage”, the destruction that is already being caused by the climate crisis on livelihoods and infrastructure.

“Loss and Damage should be treated as a key standing item as the nation develops programs to enhance community response to Climate Change alongside mitigation and adaptation,” officials of the development and humanitarian arm of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) say.

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They further note that there is an urgent need for the government to look for “knowledge and evidence required to help understand the extent of Loss & Damage being experienced by communities due to climate change.”

They also call on their government to engage with relevant stakeholders so as to keep closing the gap of temperature rise to the 1.5 degree celsius target in line with the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) resolution. 

Making reference to the final COP26 communiqué, which requested nations to return next year with stronger climate plans, so as to keep closing the gap of temperature rise to 1.5, Caritas Zambia officials call on the government “to engage with relevant stakeholders in this process and ensure that the national plans address local climate justice issues and give hope to the communities greatly affected from Loss and Damage.”

“This should include addressing gender and human rights dimensions,” they add. 

In their statement signed by the organization’s Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation program specialist, Musamba Mubanga, Caritas Zambia officials provide a postmortem of the COP26 summit, which was held from October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow. 

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They express their appreciation for the decision made by the conference on a Glasgow Climate Pact requesting parties to consider formulating and publishing updated Nationally Determined Contributions  (NDCs) before COP27. 

“This we believe will provide countries with a strong basis to start implementing the Agreement through the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs),” they say. 

The Caritas Zambia officials however say there is urgent need for parties to the Glasgow Agreement to “meaningfully and practically increase their efforts to collectively reduce emissions through accelerated action and implementation of domestic mitigation measures in accordance with Article 4 of the Paris Agreement.”

They also recognize the importance of the global goal on adaptation for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, the legally binding international treaty on climate change that was adopted December 2015. 

Officials of ZCCB’s development and humanitarian arm welcome the launch of the comprehensive two-year Glasgow–Sharm el-Sheikh working program, which will enhance the global goal on adjusting to the expected climate change and support needed for assessing progress towards it.

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They also make known their appreciation for COP26 Parties’ call to accelerate the phasing-down of coal. 

“Although there was no clear date line set, it must be noted that this was the first time such a commitment has been made since the Paris Agreement," Caritas Zambia officials say, referencing the call to stop the use of coal. 

They also express concern about COP26 failure to “deliver climate finance to guarantee justice for the most vulnerable people in the world.” 

"The lack of focus on finance for loss and damage of the environment leaves people living in poverty even more vulnerable and without hope. Climate finance needed a much more ambitious push to move the world and countries beyond the commitments that have already been made and to help meet the goal of capping global temperature rise at 1.5C," they say in the statement dated November 18.

They add that the final outcome of the recently concluded COP26 meeting "saw relatively weak language on fossil fuels, calling for ‘efforts towards’ phase-down of unabated coal power, with no mention of oil or gas." 

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Though COP26 failed to achieve some goals, Caritas Zambia officials say they "draw hope from the fact that COP26 was far more than just the negotiations: it was about movements of people coming together to create change." 

"We saw more people speaking up for climate justice than ever before, within and beyond the churches," they say, and pledge to continue the fight for climate justice. 

"Our focus is now on enhancing national efforts and COP27 in Africa. We hope that this will be an important opportunity to bring about the real transformation that is deeply needed in Zambia," they say. 

COP27 has been scheduled to take place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in November 2022.

This story was first published by ACI Africa on 22 November 2021