Newsbrief, TerraViva United Nations

Africa Most Vulnerable to Climate Change Hazards

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 1 2015 (IPS) - “Africa is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a high-level meeting on Africa and climate change at COP21.

The meeting, held as part of the climate change talks in Paris, brought together African leaders to discuss actions to tackle climate change in the continent.

Ban warned of the particular climate change impacts in Africa, stating: “Much of its economy depends on a climate-sensitive natural resource base, including rain-fed subsistence agriculture.”

“Disruptions in food or water supplies pose serious risks not only for your economies but also for political stability, particularly in fragile states,” he continued.

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), approximately seven in ten Africans depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, a sector particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change as over 90 percent of the continent’s agriculture relies on rainfall.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also revealed that by 2020, crop yields from some African nations could be reduced by up to 50 percent, exacerbating food insecurity, malnutrition, and poverty.

High levels of poverty already subsist in the continent, making even the slightest weather changes lead to disastrous effects.

Changes in rainfall will also reduce water availability. By 2050, approximately 350 to 600 million people in Africa are projected to experienced increased water stress due to climate change.

AfDB noted that rising sea levels will also threaten some of Africa’s biggest cities including Accra, Dar es Salaam, and Lagos which alone constitute approximately 24 million residents.

“There is a lot of work to do here in Paris, and the stakes are very high, especially for the most vulnerable people and countries,” Ban told top African government officials.

Ban highlighted the work already being done to mitigate climate change by African nations including the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative which aims to increase renewable energy generation capacity within the continent.

However, AfDB warned in its COP21 position paper that Africa’s development gains may reverse without an agreement that limits global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and provides financial assistance to help countries adapt and build resilience to climate change.

“Much more needs to be done to increase Africa’s access to climate finance,” said President of the AfDB Group Akinwumi Adesina.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has estimated that climate change adaptation will annually cost approximately 7 to 15 billion dollars by 2020 in Africa. This will increase to 15 to 18 billion dollars in the following decade if average global warming continues to rise.

So far, African nations have received 516 million dollars per year, or 4 percent, for climate finance.

Adesina stated that the Bank will triple its annual climate financing to reach 5 billion dollars a year by 2020.

During the high-level meeting, France’s President François Hollande said his government will double investments in renewable energy generation in the continent to 2 billion euros between 2016 and 2020.

Hollande added that France would triple its contribution to other climate challenges in Africa to 1 billion euros per year by 2020.

UN Chief urged for sustained work and partnership in the battle against climate change. “There is still time to change course,” Ban said.

“I call on all the world’s political leaders to bridge the gaps, find consensus, keep ambition high and uphold their commitment to reach the agreement the world needs to secure our common future,” he concluded.

Though communities across Africa are at great risk to climate change, the continent only produces 4 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases.

AfDB and African leaders have thus called on developed nations to fulfill their pledge of providing 100 billion annually by 2020 towards climate change action in developing countries.


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