African perspectives on pioneering climate-change: Think global, act local & build green
April 04, 2019
African perspectives on pioneering climate-change & working together to preserve the environment for future generations.
Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. And should we continue our current trajectory of climate change and so be forced to adapt to a world with a 4°C higher average temperature, our reality may become stranger than science fiction.
By 2100 this scenario may well become our reality as today climate change is moving much, much faster than human activity to mitigate it, according to scientists’ consensus.
Current emissions and the weather systems’ delayed reaction means that any reduction in greenhouse gasses will only be noticed in several decades. It is expected that the earth’s atmosphere system will keep warming up and climate change impacts will become more severe until at least 2050. The very real threat that changes in the climate will be beyond our ability to adapt to, in thirty years’ time, can only be mitigated by action now.
Nations are working to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5° C but this will only happen if there are unprecedented changes in how land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities are governed, according to the IPCC, an authority for assessing the science of climate change.
For sub-Saharan Africa, which has already experienced more frequent and intense climate extremes during the past decades, this slight rise in temperature will be significant – especially as temperature increases in the region are predicted to be higher than the global average. This will lead to more droughts, heat waves and crop failures.
The historic 2015 UN Paris Agreement saw 184 countries commit themselves to limiting climate change to below 2° and in 2018 the countries met in Katowice, Poland, to finalise the rules of implementation of the agreement’s work programme.
Africa Climate Week 2019
Implementing climate mitigation measures requires global and regional alignment, and Africa Climate Week (ACW) 2019 held during 18-22 March 2019 in Accra, Ghana, will help participants to focus on how engagement between Parties and non-Party stakeholders can be further strengthened in key sectors for Africa, including energy, agriculture and human settlements.
It will showcase the role of future carbon markets to enhance climate change action towards the goal of sustainable development, and also facilitate the implementation of countries national determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.
ACW is part of Regional Climate Weeks that are held annually in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Asia-Pacific regions, and organized by the Nairobi Framework Partnership which supports developing countries in preparing and implementing their NDCs.
Few emissions, but harsh consequences in Africa
Energy, agriculture and human settlements are particularly relevant as the sectors which will need to be transformed to ensure successful adaption to a changing climate.
Within Africa, a scenario of 2°C or 3°C increase in global average temperature will have the following impact, according to IPCC projections:
The populous western Sahel region will continue to dry out with a significant increase in the maximum length of dry spells, while parts of Central Africa will have a decrease in the length of wet spells and an increase in heavy rainfall.
Lower crop yields and food production will characterise West Africa, with the resulting impacts on food security.
Southern Africa is expected to have droughts more often as well as a greater number of heatwaves towards the end of the 21st century.
At an increase of 1.5 °s C, there would be less rainfall in the Limpopo basin area and areas of the Zambezi basin, as well as parts of South Africa’s Western Cape Province.
However, at 2°C, Southern Africa will have 20% less rainfall and an increase in the consecutive number of dry days in Namibia, Botswana, northern Zimbabwe and southern Zambia. The expected result is a 5 – 10% decrease in the volume of the Zambezi basin.
In this scenario there will be an increase of temperature extremes in all sub-Saharan regions where temperatures are expected to rise faster than the new normal of 2°C. The southwestern region, including South Africa, and parts of Namibia and Botswana expected to experience the greatest increases in temperature.
Africa Climate Week is among a significant series of initiatives building on the progress made so far in the region as important climate mitigation measures grow increasingly more urgent.