Young Ugandan climate activist pushing for international crisis team to fight climate change

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Ugandans move through floodwaters in the town of Lira in September 2007. (Hudson Apunyo/Reuters - image credit)
Ugandans move through floodwaters in the town of Lira in September 2007. (Hudson Apunyo/Reuters - image credit)

After seeing the devastating effects of climate change in his country, Ugandan climate activist Nyombi Morris has a message for world leaders at COP26: "Put an end to fossil fuels and make polluters pay."

The Conference of Parties (COP), as it's known, meets every year and is the global decision-making body set up to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, adopted in the early 1990s, and subsequent climate agreements.

  • Have questions about COP26 or climate science, policy or politics? Email us: ask@cbc.ca. Your input helps inform our coverage.

Morris, 23, says he wants to see an international crisis team set up to fight climate change around the world and wants leaders at the summit to approve a "loss and damage fund." It's a term used in UN climate negotiations referring to compensation for countries most affected by climate change.

He became a climate activist after witnessing flooding that destroyed his family farm in 2012.

"Whenever it rained, sometimes flooding would wash away our crops and sometimes it would enter our houses," Morris said.

"As time kept on moving, my parents couldn't sustain a living because where they used to invest most of their money was destroyed. They were forced to sell their farm and move to Kampala."

Hudson Apunyo/Reuters
Hudson Apunyo/Reuters

According to UNICEF, between January and June of 2020, flooding displaced more than 24,000 people in Uganda. Over 100,000 people were affected through the destruction of homes, crops and infrastructure. The flooding, according to Morris, is pushing displaced people into Uganda's refugee camps.

Developed world falls short of $100B commitment

A new report jointly drafted by Canada and Germany says the developed world failed to deliver on its commitment to raise $100 billion US a year by 2020 to help poorer countries fight climate change.

The commitment was made in 2009 at COP15 in Copenhagen. It was based on the recognition that the developed world is mainly responsible for producing climate-change-causing emissions that disproportionately affect the developing world.

But environmental groups say the $100-billion figure isn't enough to help poorer countries fight the effects of rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Morris is aware that developed countries haven't reached their contribution target. He says if the money is received, it would help Uganda in a massive way.

"When that money comes, it would be given to those communities in recovery, people who don't have homes, people who are stuck in those temporary camps," he said.

WATCH | Here's what young activists want to see at COP26:

Climate activism

Since becoming a climate activist, Morris has focused on planting trees in his community because they absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

"When you plant a tree they are carbon sinks, they can help you in many ways," he said.

Nyombi Morris/Twitter
Nyombi Morris/Twitter

His farming background also gives him a special understanding of how trees offer protection against flooding. Along with volunteers, he's planted more than 2,000 trees in the Mpanga forest south of Kampala and he's been fighting the deforestation of the Bugoma forest.

Morris also advocates for climate to be added to school curriculums and has faith that young people will be successful in fighting climate change in the future.

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