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343 Pan-African Unity as a Pre-Requisite for Pro-Active Response to Climate Change Kasay Sentime INTRODUCTION The complexity and magnitude of climate change as portrayed these days by scientists and the media call for renewed thinking aimed at dealing with this threat from its root. A united pan-African front is needed. As a global dilemma, climate change entails anthropogenic activities in one area that directly or indirectly affect in remote places as well as regions, countries and continents. For instance, drought, food, water shortages and flooding as a result of a global rise in sea-level, an increase in the frequency of natural disasters and the escalation of poverty might lead to forced migrations which could escalate from one region to another and subsequently lead to competition over natural resources, and ultimately to systemic conflicts.1 This is also evident through the recent work of scholars2 who state that climate change and variability have the potential to impact negatively on water availability, and access to and demand for water in most countries, particularly in Africa. As demonstrated by the Centre for Naval Analysis,3 it is vital to understand that the risk of violent conflict associated with climate change and the subsequent scarcity of resources, depends largely on the vulnerability of populations, the ecosystems, economic systems and institutions in question. In Africa, it is predicted that poor communities, more than the affluent ones, will be the more vulnerable and the more likely to have to pay the costs arising from these impacts. This is because Africa is always portrayed as a vulnerable continent from the colonisation to post-colonisation period, suffering the effects of financial instability and the high risk of being adversely affected by climate change and its associated impacts. As highlighted by Onuoha,4 it is evident that Africa is facing a number of climate change shocks that are intensifying, inequality and the disruption of livelihoods. Thus, the best way to respond to climate change and CHAPTER 20 344 its associated impacts is to examine its roots and investigate whether it is all related to the power dynamics between the ‘have and have-nots’. By exploring key theoretical concepts, this paper draws from the decolonial epistemic perspective, mainly the coloniality of power, coloniality of knowledge and the coloniality of being as they are intertwined and useful in order to clearly understand the power and epistemic dynamic hidden in current environmental discourses in general and climate change discourse in particular that is linked to modernity and also to the neo-liberal system.5 As underlined by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change6 there are a number of regions that are expected to be predominantly subjected to climate change, namely the Arctic, Africa, small islands in the oceans and densely-populated coastal mega-deltas in Asia. With regard to Africa in particular, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has pointed out the likelihood that Africa will be more seriously affected than any other region, because of the continent’s limited adaptive capacity; hence scrutinising the response to climate change from a Pan-Africanist perspective and from the decolonial epistemic perspective side of the power debate mainly the coloniality of power, coloniality of knowledge, the coloniality of being and coloniality of nature, which should be deemed as vital to a proactive response to climate-change-related strategies at both the regional and national levels. This debate is divided into four sections. The first section briefly outlines the historical background of climate change and its challenges; the second section briefly shows the power relationship that exists within the proponents of climate change mitigation and strategists; and the third considers the associated impacts of climate change on Africa as a region, and spells out the challenges facing the African people. The last section discusses the need for pan-Africanism as a pre-requisite for responding to climate change in the African context. BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF CLIMATE CHANGE The emergence of the concept ‘climate change’ dates back to the 1980’s and thereabouts, with key events such as the discovery of the ozone hole in the stratosphere and the publication of the Brundtland Commission Report, ‘Our Common Future’.7 However, before this year, the wave of this phenomenon was already evident at the Stockholm Conference in 1972 and at the Rio de Janerio Conference in 1992 where issues of pollution, oil spills and the dumping of hazardous waste at sea, threats of bio-diversity...


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