Climate change has become most catastrophic tragedy of all time — Mutharika

By Duncan Mlanjira

President Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika says climate change has become the most catastrophic tragedy of our time in a scale that is more colossal than any war known to humankind.

Mutharika said this when he addressed the Conference of Parties (COP 25) in Madrid, Spain where he went to attend the UN climate Change Summit organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Mutharika making his address

He was among the six African presidents from Morocco, Uganda, Congo Brazzaville, Guinea Bisau and Eswatin, who were also joined by dozens of environmental organizations, entrepreneurs, scientists and over 25,000 representatives from 200 countries at the Fair Institution of Madrid complex (IFEMA) where Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez opened the summit.

“I come to affirm that the effects of climate change are being felt everywhere today. Climate change has devastating consequences on real human lives.

Mutharika with Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez

“Man is at war with nature. Everywhere, climate change is taking innocent lives, frustrating national economies and inflicting untold suffering to many people of the world.”

Mutharika said Malawi is no different as it has suffered four natural disasters in the past five years, all because of climate change.

Mutharika arriving at the conference

“In 2015, we had drought that was immediately followed by heavy rains and floods. Crops failed, infrastructure destroyed and people died. 

“In 2016, we had floods. Crops failed, infrastructure destroyed and lives lost.

“In our 2017/2018 growing season, our crops were destroyed by fall armyworms, which are climate change related because these worms thrive in dry spells.

“In March earlier this year, Malawi was hit by Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth. About 1 million people were directly affected [and] we lost 60 lives and many lost their homes while 672 were injured.

“Up to this moment as I speak, we need over $375 million for recovery. We have to find this money.”

He said every time there is a natural disaster, crops fail, the bulk of the country’s agro-based economy gets broken and the economy falters. 

“A weak economy takes long to recover from the effects of natural disasters — Malawi would have made more economic progress without the setbacks of climate change.

“This is the double tragedy of the developing world. The weaker the economy, the more fragile the existence of our vulnerable people, and the more we suffer the shocks of climate change. 

“The more a weak economy suffers the shocks of climate change, the more we lack resources to fight climate change.”

In spite of the challenges, Mutharika observes, Malawi is playing her part and fighting climate change. 

“Climate change is recognized as a key priority in Malawi Growth and Development Strategy. This is our policy blueprint for driving the development agenda.

“We have developed a National Climate Change Management Policy to specifically manage to adverse effects of climatic change.

“We have developed a National Resilience Strategy to fend off economic shocks and sustain inclusive growth, food security, and improved well-being for all Malawians.

“We have developed a range of sectoral policies that include:

• The National Forestry Policy (2016),

• The National Meteorological Policy (2019),

• The National Irrigation Policy (2016), and

• The National Climate Smart Agriculture Framework (2018).

“Currently, we are promoting the use of clean energy. We have removed taxes on solar power systems, energy efficient bulbs and liquefied petroleum gas cylinders.

“We have imposed a carbon tax on all motor vehicles as a way of managing vehicular emissions.

“We have developed a Forest Restoration Strategy, deploying the Youth as key agents in climate change management under a Youth Afforestation Programme. 

“We target restoring 4.5 million hectares of degraded forest landscape.”

He continued to say Malawi is developing a National Climate Change Management Fund to mobilise local resources for fighting climate change.

“The Least Developing Countries are doing their part. Our major challenge is resources.

“The Least Developing Countries are the least contributors to climate change. And yet, we suffer most from the effects of climate change.

“As Chair of the Least Developed Countries, Malawi pleads for adequate resources to help the LDCs in the fight against climate change.

“We urge our developed partners to move one step forward in providing financial and technological support.

The world has enough resources to fight climate change, if only we can share. The world has enough power to fight climate change, if only we can unite.

“Together, we can make it,” concludes the President.