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Using art to create awareness and demand action on climate change

By Mercy Mumo

Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity. The demand for energy has become too high with less regard on its effects on the environment. The youth have also been involved in creating awareness on climate change matters. Recently, a documentary dubbed Climate: Change the Conversation was premiered at the Alliance Francaise Auditorium in Nairobi on 11 November 2015.

Produced with the support of UNESCO, the French Embassy and the Embassy of Germany among other partners, the documentary combines music; spoken word, art and powerful narrative aimed at focusing the public on the negative impacts of climate change and calling everybody to do their part. It puts youth at the centre of those who stand to lose the most and whose urgent involvement in responding to threats posed by climate change is critical.

The young have been seen taking measures to mitigate climate change by planting trees, not littering the environment and conserving water. For instance, pupils from St. Georges Primary School in Nairobi are featured in the documentary demonstrating how they have been engaged in planting trees around the school.

From the welcome remarks made at the premiere, introducing climate change as a subject in the school curriculum was deemed important as well as raising awareness about the challenges and risks of climate change through the use of art.

Kenyans spend more on electricity than they should through vampire drains. Kenya Power which is responsible for the transmission, distribution and retail of electricity throughout the country, through its tips on energy saving measures stipulates that it is advisable that electronic devices be unplugged when not in use. This can save up to 50 percent on energy consumed. Another interesting fact highlighted at the screening was that cement is the second most consumed commodity after water yet little has been done on sensitizing its manufacturers on the production effects on the environment.

The documentary which is a French-German cultural project is geared at showcasing how each one of us has a role to play in protecting the environment while spreading the climate change message. The documentary depicts how various climate change factors have changed food production, rainfall patterns and the overall environment. The screening was attended by various governmental and non-governmental stakeholders who manage various climate change projects.

Cultural specialist at UNESCO and Chief Operations Officer at Trust for African Rock Art Mr. Terry Little noted that many people still do not understand climate change. “To increase awareness, we have to keep sensitizing people through simplified messages on climate change and embrace art in the process of relaying the climate change message,” said Mr. Little.

He emphasized on the immediate need of taking responsibility of the environment by making sound choices on the environment; corrective action which can be achieved by adding our voices and sharing knowledge on climate change.

Ambassador of France to Kenya Rémi Maréchaux who graced the documentary screening noted that in the energy transition, Kenya has a big role to play in creating awareness on adoption of renewable energy as a climate change mitigation measure.

“People need to be sensitized on the reality of saving money through use of renewable energy while at the same time placing emphasis that green energy is indeed profitable,” averred the French Ambassador adding: “ In order to reverse the negative effects of climate change, we have to go renewable.”

At the event was also the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Kenya Mrs Jutta Frasch who touched on how reduction of energy waste can be achieved. “In Nairobi, a lot of energy is wasted in traffic which could be improved by modern systems of traffic or enhancement of the public transport sector,” she said.

The German Ambassador also added that each and every one of us can contribute to protecting the environment on a small scale. “It starts with little things like throwing plastic bottles in a dust bin and not on the road where plastic blocks drainage systems.”

The overall message of the documentary is for people to understand the meaning of climate change and act responsibly.