Africa's new opportunities on combatting climate change

"The June 1st announcement, by which President Trump declared the United States' exit from the World Climate Agreement, signed a year and a half ago at Cop 21 in Paris, could represent an opportunity for Africa to start addressing directly the issue of climate change".

A general view of the dried up Theewaterskloof dam near Cape Town, South Africa June 2, 2017. The dam supplies most of the city 's potable water. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
A general view of the dried up Theewaterskloof dam near Cape Town, South Africa June 2, 2017. The dam supplies most of the city 's potable water. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

The president of the African Wildlife Foundation, Kaddu Kiwe Sebunya, said in an editorial published on the online edition of the Kenyan newspaper ‘Daily Nation’. The Ugandan expert believes that if the second largest polluter country in the world is no longer willing to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Africans must be ready to roll up their sleeves and commit themselves to making a sustainable turn to their development.

The climate issue has long become central to Africa, which, according to the latest annual report drawn up by UNEP (United Nations Environment Program), despite being the only non-industrialized continent, has contributed globally Only 4% of the historic build-up of greenhouse gases through carbon emissions.

Catastrophic forecasts

The study also stresses that climate warming has had and will have significant consequences on African economic growth, with losses ranging between $ 7 and $ 15 billion a year. Moreover, the climatic factor is a barrier to investment and complicates infrastructure planning.

The United Nations Climate Change Intergovernmental Panel (IPCC) noted that Africa will warm up once and a half more than the global average, with devastating consequences. While a report released last March predicted a 40 percent drop in maize production in Zambia by 2090 due to climate change. At the same time, eminent climatologists who used the IPCC data found that Chad, Niger and Zambia could lose their entire agricultural sector by 2100, if global warming continues at the current pace.

Nevertheless, among the implications for Africa that result from climate change, there is also the risk of increased conflicts, as witnessed by a recent report published on the American scientific journal ‘Science’.

To changing in weather patterns caused by climate change can also be attributed to the current famine and shortage of food in the Horn of Africa region, as well as the lean crops that have led to rising food prices in Kenya and other East African countries.

The little commitment by African governments

Another study co-ordinated by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the Climate and Develpment Knowledge Network (CDKN), which examined the entire sub-Saharan area, found that African governments are not effectively engaging to stem the phenomenon of climate change.

According to the report, in their projects and investments, governments and companies in the region fail to take into account information on long-term climate impacts.

To have a negative influence on the situation there are several factors, including the fact that often long-term climate commitments fail to adapt to the transfer to sub-Saharan economic environments, always imitating immediate profit.

The report among the factors that are unfavourable also indicates the inadequacy of skills and economic resources, as well as the lack of communication between producers and users of climate information.

The new EU-China climate axis

A set of elements with which Africa is facing and which could overcome with the new EU-China climate axis support, stemming from Donald Trump's choice of withdrawing the US from the Paris agreement.

The US President's decision to withdraw from the climate commitment taken by his predecessor Barak Obama has in fact brought China and the European Union closer to reiterating their promises when they agreed to limit global warming to below 2 ° C, compared to pre-industrial levels.

The two sides have pledged to raise one hundred billion dollars a year, up to 2020, to help poorer countries reduce their emissions. A common commitment laying the foundations for a climate diplomacy, as seen in the Joint Declaration, where it is considered the determination to "explore the possibilities of triangular cooperation" for the promotion of sustainable energy and emission reductions in developing countries, Africa in the first place.

Donald Trump's speech announcing that America will abandon the Paris climate agreement, seems therefore to have sanctioned an EU-China axis on the environmental issue. And also confirmed the conclusions of the recent study of the German Development Institute: the new climate alliance and the trilateral approach to sustainable development could offer African governments the right opportunity to adopt new strategies on combatting the disastrous effects of global warming.

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