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Climate Change in Africa
Africa, despite its low contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, remains the most vulnerable continent.
Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change impacts under all climate scenarios above 1.5 degrees Celsius. Despite having contributed the least to global warming and having the lowest emissions, Africa faces exponential collateral damage, posing systemic risks to its economies, infrastructure investments, water and food systems, public health, agriculture, and livelihoods, threatening to undo its modest development gains and slip into higher levels of extreme poverty. The following factors contribute to Africa’s vulnerability:
“WFP declared the floods in Mozambique a Level-3 emergency, on a par with Yemen and Syria” Ninety percent of the infrastructure was destroyed in Beira, Mozambique, the epicenter of the 2019 Cyclone Idai.
Beira is Mozambique’s fourth-largest city, with important energy infrastructure investments and natural gas deposits off the coastline.
- Sub-Saharan Africa has 95% of rain-fed agriculture globally.
- A large share of agriculture in GDP and employment adds to vulnerability, as do other weather-sensitive activities, such as herding and fishing, leading to income losses and increased food insecurity.
- Seven of the 10 countries that are most vulnerable to climate change are in Africa. In 2015, four African countries ranked among the 10 countries most affected: Mozambique (1st), Malawi (3rd), Ghana and Madagascar (joint 8th position).
Climate change represents a major threat to Africa achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report 2018 highlighted the grave consequences of a temperature increase above 1.5°C, especially for Africa.
From 2008 to 2011, drought caused economic losses equivalent to 3.9 percent of Djibouti’s GDP per annum
UNEP-commissioned research estimates that the cost of adapting to climate change across Africa could reach $50 billion a year by 2050, if the global temperature increase is kept within 2°C above preindustrial levels.
Under the Paris Agreement reached at COP21, all countries agreed to take collective action on climate change to keep global temperature increases to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. African countries have outlined bold aspirations to build climate resilient and low-carbon economies in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement.
As of November 2019, 49 African countries out of 54 had ratified their NDCs.
Having signed and ratified the Paris Agreement, nearly all African countries have committed to enhancing climate action through reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and building resilience. For the continent, adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change is urgent.
Africa will need investments of over $3 trillion in mitigation and adaptation by 2030 in order to implement its NDCs.
However, many of their commitments are conditional upon receiving adequate financial, technical and capacity building support
Nevertheless, climate change also provides opportunities for Africa to harness its huge resource potential to achieve the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. Addressing climate change in Africa will create significant market opportunities on the continent, especially for the private sector and institutional investors