Many people know what human rights are but let me summarize some as mentioned by the United Nations:
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status.
Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work, education, and many more.
The United Nations supports many internationally accepted rights, including Economic rights, and has defined these rights in Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The first of the SDG’s is to Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger. Economic growth is regarded as the main principal mechanism to achieve these goals.
GOALS 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9: No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health, Quality Education, Decent Economic Growth, Industry and Infrastructure are all about the right to Economic Development.
GOALS 6, 7, 11, 14, 15: Clean Water, Clean Energy, Sustainable Communities, Life below Water, Life on land.
Last but not the least The United Nations mention: Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.
And that is exactly where Africa’s trouble starts with climate activists.
Climate activist are actively pushing and forcibly trying to convince the world that their opinion on the climate and a sustainable world is the only right one.
They have convinced the developed world that if we don’t change quickly enough the world, as we know it will come to an end.
They might be right or they might be wrong I am not a scientist to dispute them.
What I dispute and where I object to is that these climate activists are dictating or at least pushing others to dictate to African and other developing countries to stop developing in the name of sustainability and climate change.
I don’t have a problem with developed countries rightfully adapting their economies according to sustainable growth as suggested and directed by scientists and these activists.
But these activists are not the peaceful hippies of the 1960s anymore.
They have grown into professional institutions with great media experience that don’t care about democracy that push their opinions so long and with large financial means behind them until they change the world. They want to dictate the world how to live, how to consume and condemn anybody not following their rules.
Some of the things they promote have either nothing to do with climate change or they feed the world wrong information on climate sustainability. Some examples are:
Ecologic farming is sustainable.
Traditional large scale industrial farming is more sustainable than ecologic farming simply because the animals use less land, less food and live shorter than with ecologic farming.
Palm oil is not sustainable.
Palm oil is 5 times more sustainable than sunflower oil and 9 times more than olive oil, but because they seem to love olive oil that news has been hidden.
More people are becoming vegetarians which are good for the environment.
Meat consumption per capita is related to welfare; the less poverty the higher meat consumption.
In 2018 meat consumption grew 7% per capita worldwide.
My problem, and this article is not about who is right or wrong.
After all almost every businessman, politician and indeed activist are using big or small lies to convince an opponent or a client.
Climate activists attempt to reduce and slow down African growth
My problem is with calls of these climate activists on institutions and governments to stop deforestation, mining and mineral use in Africa and other developing economies.
That is not only an insult to all countries to the right to rule themselves but also a direct infringement of Africa’s human right as stated by the United Nations who are captured under the Sustainable Development Goals as SDG number 1 which is referring to the right to Economic Growth.
Economic Growth is regarded as the principal mechanism to achieve almost all the other mentioned SDGs.
Ghana is a lower income developing economy. The reason that Ghana is developing fast is that Ghana (just like many African countries) has abundant natural resources.
But to make full economic use of these resources Ghana needs to take steps which are not the best for our (own) environment, but just like the developed world has done for decades we need to take these steps.
Today’s problem is that the unsustainable behavior of the developed world over the last decade has put the whole world in “danger” and now these climate activists want Africa and other developing economies to support their sustainable targets and pay the price.
And that is not only unfair but also disturbing the African Human Right to grow their economies.
The developed world and China are producing most of today’s pollution. China, the USA and India are still producing 52% of all pollution in the world.
However the pollution created between 1900 and 2000 has been created for 92% by the developed countries (China’s share began rapidly to grow after 1978).
Up until today Africa’s share of worldwide pollution is estimated lower than 3% whilst Africa houses 16% of the world’s population. African carbon footprints are the lowest in the world.
The Carbon imprint of the average African stands at 1-2 against 30-54 for the Arab Peninsula, 10-20 for Europe, 20 for the united states and Canada, Asia 8-15.
And now these Climate Activists are asking Africa and other developing countries to stop developing by fighting deforestation for mining, farming and other economic use because they need to breathe?
We in Africa, South America and Asia also need to breath! But we also need economic growth, jobs, improved health care, education etc. to lead a normal life.
The biggest hypocrisy is that when you (in the developed world) were developing and enjoying the effects of your development nobody was worried about the environment.
The whole developed world enjoyed: being healthy, having good education, holidays, transportation and cars, good roads, nice houses with good heating systems without thinking about the environment.
Luckily for this activist we in Africa are also aware of the problems you guys created over our backs, and we are aware that if we die because of pollution in an overcrowded polluted world, nobody wins. The guilty ones will die just as the innocents.
For that reason I worked out a “simple” solution on which every country or economic block will be responsible for its own CO2 use, carbon imprint and pollution.
Article 1:`Every nation is responsible for its own pollution and repairs of our climate.
Article 2: Every nation will calculate its deficit or surplus of pollution.
Article 3: Every nation will pay for it own damage caused.
Article 4: Every nation that has a surplus will be paid for that by the polluting nations.
In layman’s words; if the developed world is asking African and other developing nations not to cut their forests for development purposes, they will be financially compensated.
The compensation should be equal to the net profit that development would have created to the country.
This reward and penalty system will make it much easier for developing economies to decide to use or not use their natural resources without losing economic development.
At the same time the developed world will also put efforts in to replant their forests that have been destroyed decades ago for their development.
It was the President of Brazil Bolsonaro who stated that Brazil is not a colony of any country and has the right to develop itself.
And although I agree also with many people in the world that the Amazon, Malaysian and Indonesian rainforests are the Lungs of the World, it is the basic right of a population to strive for Economic Growth with all its benefits.
BY Nico van Staalduinen, A concerned Ghanaian