Just as a single raindrop can start a flood, each vote for climate action can contribute to a wave of change in Africa.
As Africa prepares for several elections in 2023, the importance of climate change action cannot be overstated. The continent is already experiencing the effects of climate change, including droughts, floods, and food insecurity, which are exacerbated by rising temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events.
Data shows that climate change is already taking a significant toll on the continent’s economies.
For instance, by 2050, up to 86 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa may be forced to migrate due to climate change-related factors such as desertification and water scarcity. According to the African Development Bank, Africa has been losing from 5 to 15% of its GDP per capita growth because of climate change and its related impacts but needs about $1.6 trillion between 2022 and 2030 to meet its nationally determination contributions (NDCs).
The economic and social impacts of climate change in Africa will be far-reaching, affecting both urban and rural populations. However, pro-climate change leaders have the potential to mitigate these effects by investing in climate-resilient infrastructure and promoting clean energy.
For instance, investing in renewable energy could reduce carbon emissions and provide energy access to the over 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa who currently lack it.
There are several African countries with upcoming elections, both presidential and parliamentary, in 2023, including Nigeria, Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Libya. In these countries, citizens have a unique opportunity to influence their future by voting for leaders who prioritize climate action.
The stakes are high. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that Africa will experience more frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts, and floods, exacerbating food and water insecurity, increasing the spread of diseases, and leading to social and political instability. Inaction on climate change will undoubtedly lead to a decrease in social and economic well-being, increasing inequality and amplifying the continent’s existing challenges.
To mitigate the effects of climate change, African countries must invest in climate-resilient infrastructure, nature-based-driven agriculture and transition to renewable energy. This requires proactive leadership that is dedicated to mitigating the negative effects of climate change. By voting for pro-climate action candidates in the upcoming elections, citizens can demand that their leaders prioritize climate change policies and actions, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting biodiversity, enhancing food security and building resilience to climate impacts.
The data support the case for voting for climate action. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center shows that a majority of Africans view climate change as a major threat to their countries, with 75% of respondents believing that their governments are not doing enough to address it. Another survey by Afrobarometer found that the majority of Africans prioritize addressing climate change over economic growth and are willing to pay higher taxes to support climate action.
Investing in climate change action will have numerous benefits for Africa. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the continent has the potential to generate 310 GW of renewable energy by 2030, creating millions of jobs and providing access to electricity to millions of people. Investing in climate adaptation could also provide a return of $4 for every $1 spent, reducing damages and losses from climate impacts, as outlined by the United Nations Development Programme.
For instance, in Nigeria, a country with upcoming presidential elections on February 25, 2023, climate change is an important issue that must be addressed by candidates.
Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa, and oil exports account for a significant portion of the country’s GDP. However, oil production and consumption contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, damaging the environment and human health. Nigeria is also vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including floods, desertification, and food insecurity. By voting for pro-climate action leaders, Nigerian citizens can demand a transition to renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting ecosystems as opportunities from climate action are tapped to drive a prosperous Nigeria and Africa.
Therefore, it is imperative to know that citizens in African countries with upcoming elections in 2023 have a vital role to play in ensuring that climate change is addressed. By voting for pro-climate action, leaders who prioritize climate action will steer Africa towards a sustainable future by implementing policies that reduce carbon emissions, promote renewable energy, and build resilient infrastructure. With this, citizens can demand a sustainable future for their countries and the continent.
Every vote counts and every vote for climate action can contribute to a wave of change that will transform the trajectory of Africa and the world.