As the climate clock ticked below six years on Saturday, teen climate activists in Kisumu urged the government to take immediate action to avert the adverse effects of climate change.
The Climate clock is a system devised by scientists and organisations worldwide showing how much time is left before continued CO2 emissions lock in at least 1.5 degrees of global warming, a key threshold for global climate goals under the Paris Agreement 2015.
Through the Kisumu Environmental Champions, an organisation which runs a campaign to clean up and restore Lake Victoria, the activists want the government to develop a policy on plastics and enforce a ban on single-use plastic bags to save the lake’s ecosystem.
The organisation representative, George Bush, speaking during Climate Emergency Day celebrations, said plastic pollution was a threat to the existence of the lake, which is a source of livelihood for millions of people.
Bush said the lake was instrumental in Kenya’s climate mitigation measures, urging the government to urgently address pollution concerns facing the water body.
He said Kisumu Environmental Champions has rolled out an initiative dubbed, Let Lake Victoria Breath Again, which targets to restore the lake ecosystem for the benefit of future generations.
“We are engaged in cleanups and tree planting, where we are supporting the county government of Kisumu’s initiative to plant three million trees. We are also creating awareness about the relationship between the lake and climate change,” he said.
The activities, the group representative said, were in line with Sustainable Development Goals 13, 14, and 15, which address climate change, life below water, and life on land.
Bush lauded the county government of Kisumu for adopting the campaign slogan, while calling on other county governments within the lake region to follow suit to ensure that the lake is conserved.
The government, he added, must reach out to Uganda and Tanzania, which share the lake, to scale up conservation measures.
“Climate change is affecting communities differently. That is why we are calling on the government to undertake urgent measures to bring the climate situation to the green line because if steps are not taken within the next five years, then we’ll be in a crisis,” Bush said.
On his part, Let Lake Victoria Breath Again Campaign Director Clive Henry called for a scale-up of interventions by the government and the private sector to cut green gas emissions.
“As the clock is ticking down to five years, it means that we are entering into a period where humanity has to act on all fronts to enhance renewable energy and climate mitigation measures,” he said.
By Chris Mahandara