Rev Trevor Sargent’s Ecological Notes for November 2018 – Africa’s Response to Climate Change ‘Build a Wall’ – of Trees 15km wide & 8000km long!

Great Green Wall logoAfrica’s Response to Climate Change   ‘Build a Wall’ – of Trees 15km wide & 8000km long!

The U.N. calls time on our ‘sleepwalking’ into climate chaos:

The UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a stark report last month about the global consequences if we do not stop emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases. Stronger storms, rising sea levels, impossible farming conditions, food scarcity and mass migration are a few of the consequences if we fail to keep to a 1.5°C rise above pre-industrial levels. However, at present we are on course to massively exceed the 1.5°C limit.

The IPCC report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.

Africa is awake to the need to soak up CO2:

The best way to remove CO2 from the air is to plant trees and lock up the airborne carbon in forests of wood. One consequence of climate change already, is drought and desertification along the southern boundary of the Sahara Desert, known as the Sahel, a semi-arid belt on the frontline of climate change. The African Union meeting in Addis Ababa undertook to plant a linear forest across Africa to soak up airborne carbon and green the degraded land to make it fertile again. This project was named the Great Green Wall. Together, eleven Sahelo-Saharan states (Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and Chad) have created the Pan African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAGGW).

Planting the Great Green Wall:

Exactly ten years ago on the 28th November 2008, the African Union hosted a conference in Addis Ababa entitled ‘Mitigating Climate Change, providing prosperity and self-reliance for rural livelihoods in Africa’. As a Government Minister representing Ireland at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization at the time, I addressed that conference on the importance of trees in protecting soil from drought and erosion. 2008 was the year when planting of the Great Green Wall began. So far (July 2018 figures), over three million trees have been planted, largely in Burkina Faso, but Senegal has made good progress also. By 2030, the aim is to have 100 million hectares of degraded soil restored, have 250 million tons of CO2 sequestered and 350,000 new agricultural jobs created. Pledges of $8 billion have been secured from the World Bank, etc. Where forests have grown, wells have been replenished, horticultural jobs have been created leading to healthier communities and less pressure to migrate across the Mediterranean in search of a livelihood.

Solidarity with Africa demands we get serious too:

The average Irish person’s carbon footprint is almost ten times that of a citizen in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Senegal or Mali. Taking care of, and growing more trees in Ireland, is one tangible way we can show solidarity with those who are suffering from climate change in Africa. The Cashel, Ferns and Ossory Environmental Committee hopes to assist parishes in the near future to learn more about prudent care of trees and appropriate approaches to tree planting, including easy ways to establish tree nurseries using locally collected seeds.

Lord, help us to see a Role for Trees in the Healing of the Nations:

Reflection: Revelation 22:1 – 5.