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(Bloomberg) -- While world leaders and business executives gather for high-profile climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, environmental activist Mustafa Gerima will be walking village to village in northwestern Uganda to raise awareness about the disappearing shea tree.

That wasn’t how he planned it. Months ago, Gerima, a former biology teacher, applied for support from Greta Thunberg’s group, Fridays for Future, to attend the United Nations-sponsored COP26 talks. Telling the story of the shea tree, he argued, could help show the world how poor countries are being hit hardest by the impacts of climate change. Two days before the talks begin, he still hadn’t been granted access to a Covid vaccine or funds for travel and accommodation.

According to an email from Fridays for Future that Gerima received, only five candidates from the global south were selected due to the “small number” of passes given to them by the UN’s climate agency. 

“I really had that blazing desire to attend COP26,” Gerima, 48, said in a phone interview from his home district of Yumbe last week. “There is little time left. I just don’t see any headway. This is how the world works.”

The situation underscores a problem that’s threatening to blow apart any hopes of a meaningful deal at the Glasgow talks. The negotiations are guided by a simple principle: Developed countries that got rich by polluting agreed to provide financial support so poorer nations can decarbonize and adapt to a warming planet.

As a start, rich countries promised to mobilize $100 billion of finance per year by 2020. They’ve fallen far short, with the latest plan showing the target will be met only in 2023. That failure has become the biggest source of resentment among developing nations and a reason to distrust further promises. 

A lack of representation for developing countries and small island states has been an issue from the start. The first COP that Tara Shine, an Irish climate scientist, attended in 2003 had only one delegate from Mali. With a number of overlapping agenda items, it becomes all but impossible for such countries to make themselves heard.

The problem is even more pronounced this year due to the pandemic and inequality of vaccine distribution. After some environmental groups called for the talks to be postponed until more people can ­attend, the U.K. ­offered to cover hotel quarantine fees and provide shots. It’s unclear how many applicants got access to that help — and how many people like Gerima have been left out.

“Ensuring that the voices of those most affected by climate change are heard is a priority,” a COP spokesperson said.  “We are working tirelessly with all our partners, including the Scottish Government and the UN, to ensure an inclusive, accessible and safe summit in Glasgow.” 

A lack of participants from developing countries could mean crucial issues are overlooked, says Shine, a former member of the UNFCCC’s Group of Experts, which is charged with helping those nations. For example, activists are pushing for more discussions about loss-and-damage funds, which would help countries cope with the extreme weather that’s already baked in at 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming.

“They constantly keep the pressure on the negotiators and the leaders who come to be as ambitious as possible. It’s really critical for the very essence of what a COP is,” Shine said.

The costs to attend can be astronomical. For Gerima, a round-trip flight to Glasgow would cost almost $1,500, while apartments in the city are going for $698 per night on average on Airbnb Inc. He wouldn’t have to quarantine, but would have to spend time obtaining a visa. 

Still, he hasn’t given up hope that his message may still be heard. “It’s an ecological war that needs to be fought,” said Gerima. “My message can still reach there, but my physical presence would have had a bigger impact.” - John Ainger, Bloomberg News

Image:A post-mortem examination found Agnes Wanjiru died as a result of stab wounds/Courtesy Sky News

The body of 21-year-old Agnes Wanjiru was found in a septic tank at the Lions Court Hotel in the town of Nanyuki, close to a British Army training camp, two months after she disappeared in March 2012.

The head of the Army has said he is "appalled" by claims British soldiers were involved in the killing of a young Kenyan woman whose body was found in a septic tank.

The body of 21-year-old Agnes Wanjiru was found at the Lions Court Hotel in the town of Nanyuki, close to the Batuk (British Army Training Unit Kenya) camp, two months after she disappeared in March 2012. 

Sky News reported exclusively on her death at the time, with sources claiming they had seen Ms Wanjiru arriving at the hotel with British soldiers on 31 March that year.

According to a report by the The Sunday Times, a soldier accused of the murder has been named by his comrades after he allegedly confessed to the killing.

In a statement, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith wrote: "I am sure you are all as appalled as I am at the recent allegations surrounding the murder of Agnes Wanjiru in Nanyuki, Kenya, in 2012."


He added: "I want you to know I am determined we support the appropriate authorities to establish the facts of the issue as quickly as possible."


The paper said another soldier reported the killing to senior officers at the time, but no action was taken.


Sources have previously confirmed to Sky News that the UK government had been aware of the incident and the accusations.

A post-mortem examination found Ms Wanjiru died as a result of stab wounds to her chest and abdomen.

Images show Chief of the General Staff General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith delivering his keynote speech at DSEI 2021
PIC: UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021:
Image:General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith said he is 'determined' to establish the facts 'as quickly as possible'. Pic: MoD

There was also evidence she had been beaten, although due to the condition of her body it was unclear whether she had been sexually assaulted.

Witnesses told The Sunday Times that Ms Wanjiru, a sex worker, was last seen leaving the hotel's bar with a British soldier.

Speaking exclusively to Sky News at the time, the police chief said his detectives were actively investigating allegations that two British soldiers murdered Ms Wanjiru.

Joshua Lutukai dismissed suggestions his force was not investigating the crime rigorously enough.

The initial inquiry stalled, but a fresh investigation was launched after an inquest delayed until 2019 found Ms Wanjiru had been unlawfully killed, The Sunday Times reported last month.

It has prompted Labour to call on the government to investigate any possible "cover-up".

A defence source told the PA news agency: "The defence secretary has been impatient with the pace of this, and has directed full co-operation.

"He has worked with the military police and Kenyans to ensure their investigation is not impeded."

On Sunday, High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott said the UK would support an inquiry into the "tragic death" of Ms Wanjiru and "help in any way we can". Source: Sky News

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo Anadolu Agency


President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tuesday that in the absence of urgent climate change adaptation action, Africa's GDP risks contracting by up to 30% by 2050.

“Evidence indicates that climate change will have a devastating socio-economic impact across the world and quite severely in Africa,” Kenyatta said in a video address to celebrate Africa Adaptation Acceleration Day.

"If we do not take any action Africa could, as a consequence, see its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contract by up to 30 percent by 2050 due to climate change," the President said.

Kenyatta urged the global community to support the accelerated rollout of adaptation programs in Africa to mitigate the growing adverse effects of climate change as well as strengthen the continent's resilience.

He said while it is relatively more difficult to design and implement adaptation projects and with fewer resources currently available for adaptation across the world, “we should not lose sight of the fact that adaptation is, without doubt, smart economics”.

The summit at the University of Nairobi was held in partnership with the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) and is a precursor to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland beginning at the end of the month.

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva also spoke at the hybrid meeting. - Andrew Wasike, Anadolu Agency

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