Africa could be uninhabitable failing action on climate change


Camels feeding on dry shrubs up at Nakudet in Kerio, Turkana County on September 17, 2021. Climate change is affecting the traditional way of life of some of the semi-nomadic communities, especially in northern and northeastern Kenya.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • For years, the developing countries have charged the rich nations with failing to assume their share of the climate change burden.
  • But these nations have failed to make deep enough cuts in carbon emissions or to build stronger defences against violent weather, activists say. 

A summer of raging wildfires, killer floods, landslides, droughts and rising sea levels around the world has made more people here aware of the dangers of climate change. 

According to an Ipsos MORI poll, nearly a third of 1,015 Britons consulted said rising temperatures, the environment and pollution constituted a major issue for the country. This is double the number recorded in a similar poll last July. 

Researcher Mike Clemence said public concern “has reached an historically high level, but has been rising since 2015”. 

It seems the penny has finally dropped with most ordinary people. Today sees the opening of the international COP26 meeting in Glasgow on climate change. By its end in 12 days, we should know if the world’s governments have come to the same conclusion. 

Broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, wildlife expert and Britain’s leading campaigner for the environment, is sounding desperate. “If we don’t act now, it will be too late,” he said in an interview with the BBC last week. “Every day that goes by when we don’t do something is a day wasted.” 

Africa, in particular, was vulnerable, he said, suggesting that the question of international responsibility would be a contentious issue at the conference. 

Carbon emissions

For years, the developing countries have charged the rich nations with failing to assume their share of the climate change burden, although they are by far the biggest polluters. They have failed to make deep enough cuts in carbon emissions or to build stronger defences against violent weather, activists say. 

Sir David believes it would be “really catastrophic” if threats to the poorest nations were ignored. “Whole parts of Africa are likely to be unliveable,” he said. “People will simply have to move away because of the advancing deserts and increasing heat and where will they go? Well, a lot of them will try to get into Europe. 

“Do we say, ‘Oh, it’s nothing to do with us,’ and fold our arms? We caused it, our kind of industrialisation is one of the major factors in producing this change in the climate … so we have moral responsibility. 

“Even if we had not caused it, we would still have the moral responsibility to do something about thousands of men, women and children who have lost everything. Can we say this is no business of ours?” 

A report from a UN scientific panel recently concluded that it was “unequivocal” that human activity was driving up global temperatures. COP26 is seen as crucial if these changes are to be brought under control. Almost 200 countries are being asked for their plans. 

We can only hope and pray for a positive and generous response. 


It looks so impressive on film, in books and on a million coloured postcards — the Palace of Westminster, better known as Parliament, magnificently dominating the north bank of the River Thames in central London. 

Inside, sit members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, making law as they have done for hundreds of years, the whole place redolent of history, unchangeable, impregnable. 

Well, not quite. A newly published survey has found that Britain’s most iconic building is in a serious state of disrepair, with thousands of problems needing urgent attention. These include cracks in stonework, widespread water damage, stained glass windows which are warping and sagging due to age, cracks in many ceilings. 

Considering the age of the building, this is no surprise. Originally built in 1016 as a palace for the monarch, the royal apartments were destroyed by fire in 1513 and Parliament began working there. In 1834, an even greater fire demolished the entire structure and the present version was constructed in the style known as Gothic Revival by the architects Charles Barry and A W Pugin. 

MPs have known for years that the building is deteriorating, but two factors have paralysed decision-makers. One is the price of restoration, put at some £12 billion; the other is the reluctance of many law-givers to move out so that workmen can move in. 

A search is going on for a building in central London big enough to take the debating chambers and offices, and a decision needs to be made soon. The cost of the current make-do-and-mend strategy is escalating all the time. 


Are we really this stupid? The following instructions are from consumer goods widely available in shops and supermarkets here: 

On the bottom of a Tiramisu dessert label: “Do not turn upside down.” 

On a packet of peanuts: “Warning: contains nuts.” 

On cough medicine for children: “Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication.” 

On a bread pudding: “Product will be hot after heating.” 

On a hairdryer: “Do not use while sleeping.” 

On a child’s Superman costume: “Wearing this garment does not enable you to fly.”