'This is a matter of survival': Malawi president issues warning on deadly impact of climate crisis

President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi spoke about the impact of climate change and fishermen tell ITV News Correspondent John Ray they are struggling to make a living.

The leader of one of Africa’s poorest nations has issued a stark warning about the deadly impact of climate change ahead of COP26, and the dangers that will follow if the summit fails.

"Already we have suffered a great deal. People dying. Crops destroyed. In some places, flooding. In other places, drought. If things cannot be mitigated, that's more death and more unpredictability."

Speaking exclusively to ITV News, President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi, paints a bleak portrait of the future for his country.

"If you have more floods, that's more death. If we have more droughts, that's more death. If we have cyclones, it's more dead. So it's death, death, death."

President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi speaks exclusively to ITV News Correspondent John Ray about the impact of climate change in his country and why the developed world needs to do more to avert catastrophe in smaller nations

A World Bank report identifies the former British colony in southern Africa as one of the places most vulnerable to climate change.

Average temperatures are predicted to rise by up to five degrees Celsius by the end of the century unless there is concerted international action.

Malawi’s challenges are familiar across Africa and beyond.

Fishermen on Lake Malawi, the lake is drying up and fewer fish are breeding there. Credit: ITV News

A population that has boomed to 20 million, reliant on subsistence farming and fishing that the land and the lakes can no longer sustain. 

There is a need to industrialise. Fewer than one in 10 Malawians have access to electricity.

But how to improve that without despoiling the environment?

President Chekwera says he will come to Glasgow with a tough message from Africa.

The COP27 climate conference - what you need to know

What is COP27? When and where will it be?

Each year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meets at what is called the Conference of the Parties (abbreviated as COP) to discuss the world's progress on climate change and how to tackle it.

COP27 is the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties summit which will be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from November 6-18.

Who is going?

Leaders of the 197 countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - a treaty that came into force in 1994 - are invited to the summit.

These are some of the world leaders that will be attending COP27:

  • UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is attending the conference, after initially saying he wouldn't as he was too busy focusing on the economy within his first weeks in office.

  • US President Joe Biden and his experienced climate envoy, John Kerry, will appear at the talks.

  • France President Emmanuel Macron will also be among the heads of state from around the world staying in Egypt.

King Charles III will not be attending COP27, despite being a staunch advocate for the environment. The decision was made jointly by Buckingham Palace and former prime minister Liz Truss.

Elsewhere, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will not attend the talks just as they decided to do for COP26.

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What is it hoping to achieve?

1. Ensure full implementation of the Paris Agreement and putting negotiations into concrete actions - included within this is the target of limiting global warming to well below 2C.

2. Cementing progress on the critical workstreams of mitigation, adaptation, finance and loss and damage, while stepping up finance notably to tackle the impacts of climate change.

3. Enhancing the delivery of the principles of transparency and accountability throughout the UN Climate Change process.

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John Ray speaks to one of the fishermen. Credit: ITV News

"Fulfil your pledge. I’m talking to those developed nations north of us.

"Ten years ago, a 100 billion dollars, was pledged. We (in the developing world) need that support in order for us to do more solar and wind and hydro power production."

But he is aware that in the run up to Glasgow the mood is downbeat.

One of the key players, China’s President Xi, may well not attend.

"If one nation thinks because of the power we have, and because of the influence we have, and because we will do what we want anyway, they're jeopardising the lives of everybody else, including their own," says President Chakwera.

"This is where we must begin to believe that this is a matter of survival."

  • To find out more about environmental projects in Malawi visit Ripple Africa