Trends on climate change in Africa and Government responses

Trends and Information on Climate Change in Africa

#climatechange trends in Africa have been established by science. Its as clear as day as recorded in the latest IPCC report, the 6th Assessment Report (AR6) (chapter 9), UN Environment Programme #adaptation and Emissions gap reports, UNEP Africa adaptation gap report series (https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/8376/-Africas%20adaptation%20gap-2013Africa%20Adapatation%20Gap%20report-%20small_2013.pdf?sequence=2&amp%3BisAllowed=; https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/9092/Africas_adaptation_gap_2.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y), etc., and it is one of increasing risks for the continent as a result of increasing extreme events of droughts and floods. The result directly impacts key socioeconomic sectors of the continent — from food systems to health to infrastructure in our cities — a critical area considering Africa is one most rapidly urbanizing regions across the globe among crucial aspects.

In the last 30 years, the number of climate-related disasters and emergencies has tripled globally, resulting in a staggering cost of over $3 trillion to the global economy. Africa, which is already heating up twice as fast as the rest of the globe, has borne the brunt. The continent has experienced a 20% decline in precipitation, a 20% increase in storm intensity, an 8% increase in arid and semi-arid lands, and an up to 50% drop in rainfed agriculture potential.

For example, if we consider impacts in some sectors, in agriculture, climate change has reduced agricultural productivity growth in Africa by 34% since 1961 — the highest of any other region of the globe. This means that amid a growing population, by 2050, Africa will only be able to fulfil 13% of its food needs. One of the critical findings of the IPCC report is that even if the world controls heating to below 1.6°C, up to 8% of today’s farmland will become climatically unsuitable, and with this, up to 1 million children from Africa will suffer stunting. We are already at 1.1°C. In cities and infrastructure, rising sea levels and flooding are critical risk factors. Sea level rise in African coastal areas is projected to be up to 14% higher than the global average. Already, it is recorded that 13 of the 15 most vulnerable countries to disasters globally are in Africa and that floods harm more people across Africa than any other type of disaster. The rate of storms in Africa has quadrupled, and flooding in African cities has increased nearly 10-folds relative to the 70s.

Most critically, the net effect of these risks is that Africa’s economies are projected to face a shrinkage of up to 15% in the next nine years and 50–85% by 2050, which will impinge on the business environment on the continent.

How Country Governments are Responding

Africa is the region that has most ratified its climate commitment, popularly called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Up to 98% of countries have ratified their NDCs, and as they submit updated commitments, over 80% have done so. Therefore, the message is that governments are committed to act and have demonstrated so through these NDCs, which are policy-level plans, including National Adaptation plans, long term Low Emissions Development Strategies, among others. However, the task remains in turning these plans and commitments into concrete action, and this is where the role of non-state actors also comes in to shift investment preferences and trajectories towards options that unlock not only financial and economic dividends but at no expense to the environment and instead enhance environmental sustainability.

UNEP’s strategy is what we are doing and cuts across leveraging its comparative advantage in knowledge for policy as well as its convening power to support countries make tangible their commitments through various actions, including:

- converting/translating NDCs into investment plans that demonstrate return on investment that can accrue to different actors who take action to implement different NDC priorities in so doing, attract implementation investments to countries,

- work with critical operational level constituencies in countries like the informal sector, as well as the youth, through low-risk convening and financing structures like cooperatives to guide them in integrating climate action solutions as part of their business development strategies and generating empirical data and examples of success that can then be used to objectively inform targeted policy incentives to expand actions that have been proven to work.

- thought leadership and generating new knowledge that can be taken up by both policy & non-policy actors on how environmental action can be a source of socioeconomic opportunities and, in so doing, accelerate the global emissions reduction and adaptation actions (https://www.unep.org/explore-topics/climate-action/what-we-do/climate-action-note/state-of-climate.html).

The above summarises the context of climate action and the responses thereof.

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Richard Munang

Environment and Development Policy Expert| 2016 Africa Environment Hero|2020 Africa Green Champion Winner| Author of #InnovativeVolunteerism| VIEWS are mine|