TODAY’S STUDY: CLIMATE CHANGE IN AFRICA
Keeping Track Of Adaptation Actions In Africa; Targeted Fiscal Stimulus Actions Making a Difference
July 2014 (United Nations Environment Programme)
New information on climate change only emphasizes the need for urgent action, particularly in regard to adaptation actions that safeguard human well-being and earth systems. The impacts of climate change are raising major public and policy concerns, as they result in financial costs and clear risks to people and national development. Other challenges such as prevalent and widespread poverty, food, health and energy insecurities amplify the burden of responding to climate change. Furthermore, incipient threats posed by climate change, particularly in terms of potentially overturning decades of development efforts in the most vulnerable areas (e.g., sub-Saharan Africa) suggest that future development efforts should incorporate greater resilience to climate change impacts.
Unfortunately, adaptation to climate change has no fixed time horizon as do emission reduction targets in the global negotiation process, or the eight Millennium Development Goals. This undermines the urgency to act now in adapting to challenges, especially in developing countries where capabilities to respond to the magnitude of the problem are limited. However, the direct role that adaptation to climate change has on the realization of certain MDGs (e.g. 1 and 7) underlines the urgency of action as the world approaches the 2015 timeline for their realization.
How to achieve the desired speed of intervention, scope of intervention, scope of adaptation actions and resilience of these actions to future climate impacts, will depend on the choice and means of intervention, and the engagement of the actors and networks chosen. Adapting to the challenges posed by climate change and at the same time managing the alignment of national economic d e v e l o p m e n t activities along new paths of low carbon, green economy and renewable resources require that countries think about potential barriers to taking actions, and also about actions beyond their national boundaries when developing strategies to guide their responses. Tapping into the emerging opportunities linked with the transition to a greener economy and renewable resources will require using new partnership arrangements, as well as new adaptive mechanisms, to buffer short-term risks and other tradeoffs that could accompany the transformation process. Developing beneficial adaptation strategies that harness existing social and economic structures will require transcending physical boundaries throughout the planning process.
Climate Risks in Africa
A growing population faces increasing risks from climate change.
Tracking temperature and land changes, disaster occurrences and costs, water availability, food production, income, population growth and ultimately health will be crucial.
Encouraging innovative solutions will be vital.
Population…Income…Agriculture…Food Prices…The Case of African Cereal…Land Use…Deforestation…
Africa has a great opportunity to capitalize on its available renewable energy potential. However, only about 5-8% of Africa’s enormous hydropower potential has been harnessed (OECD/IEA, 2010). Geothermal energy potential stands at 9,000MW, but in 2013 only approximately approximately 52MW had been developed. Currently 70-90% of Africa’s needs for fuel are met by wood/biomass. However, this often contributes to greater forest loss (Adeola, 2009).
Harnessing renewable energy sources such as geothermal and hydropower would dramatically increase industrial development and improve services such as education and medical care, thus leading to substantial growth in Africa.
The maps below show the location and intensity of solar, wind, biomass and hydropower potential available on the African continent.
The majority of African states have made great progress towards improving access to drinking water. However, more extreme droughts, floods, and sea-level rise are predicted to occur as the continent heats up.
“Declines of 20% in water availability are projected for many regions under a 2 degrees C. warming and of 50 percent for some regions under 4 degrees C. warming. Limiting warming to 2 degrees C. would reduce the global population exposed to declining water availability to 20%.” World Bank, 2013
As rainfall patterns change, water scarcity will increase in some regions as they become more arid, while torrential rains will cause more flooding in others.
East and Central Africa show an increase of total green and blue water1 availability, while Southern Africa and most of West Africa are expected to experience reductions of up to 50%.
Sea level rise, drought, flooding…Health…
Aggregated Climate Change Threats in Africa
Climate change threatens poverty reduction efforts from past achievements to current activities. It threatens all of us. And it won’t wait. The time to act is now. Progress has been made but much remains to be done in order to build healthy ecosystems…
The adaptation actions captured in this booklet demonstrate that integrating adaptation into national development policies can strengthen and enhance the resilience of countries and communities against the impacts of climate change through targeted activities, while also contributing to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The adaptation examples have provided countries in sub-Saharan Africa with concrete climate change adaptation actions that will continue to sustainably provide them with resilient livelihoods under a changing climate. The merits of the adaptation approach are evident. The engagement of local communities, use of appropriate local materials and keeping the implementation process simple make adaptation actions more efficient, effective, affordable, equitable and environmentally sustainable.
In addition, the adaptation actions conducted by countries have proven that concrete actions have potential to offer evidence-based information for institutional and regional policy processes. Their successes also provide incentive for action and build confidence through a “learning-by-doing” approach. These adaptation actions also provide economic incentives for public or private sector investment by showcasing the contribution to human welfare, poverty alleviation, job creation (specifically “Green Economy” jobs) and strengthened ecosystems, which are pathways towards achieving the proposed SDGs. Through this approach, national strategies have greatly benefited from the identification of constraining barriers and by the development of targeted actions that swiftly and precisely remove those barriers. This has helped pave the way for wider actions that can stimulate, catalyze and amplify positive results over a larger scale and more rapidly, saving money and reducing delivery time. The adaptation actions described in this booklet demonstrate that it is possible to achieve consolidated solutions that simultaneously serve local communities and national priorities for adaptation to climate change.