NAIROBI, March 14 (Xinhua) -- African countries should embark on a radical policy reorientation to encourage investments in renewable energy sources and boost their resilience to climate change, campaigners said on Thursday.
Mithika Mwenda, secretary general of Nairobi-based Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, said policy reforms, combined with visionary leadership, is key to reducing reliance on fossil fuels that are harmful to the environment and human health.
"As a continent, we must rethink our reliance on coal and other greenhouse gas-emitting fuels in order to promote human health and that of natural habitats," Mwenda said.
"There is need to leverage on robust policies, finance, leadership and technologies to help communities access clean sources of energy," he added.
Mwenda spoke on the sidelines of the "One Planet Summit" co-hosted by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, at the ongoing UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi.
Campaigners said African governments should implement global and regional treaties that call for greater adoption of renewable energy as part of climate resilience.
"Our capacity to manage climate risks is dependent on transition to clean energy sources that also present enormous opportunities for young entrepreneurs," said Mwenda.
The World Bank said more than half of Africa's population relies on firewood and charcoal to cook and light their homes.
Mwenda said that heavy consumption of biomass among rural households in Africa is to blame for environmental pollution and a spike in respiratory diseases.
"The transition to clean energy is not just an environmental imperative, it is central to boost resilience of communities who are at the frontline of climate change impacts," Mwenda said.
Ben Ireri, a sustainability expert at the World Resources Institute, said a shift to cleaner sources of energy will boost poverty eradication and gender parity in rural Africa.