African states and climate disruptions

Every region in the world is affected by climate change but Africa is still the most exposed continent. According to the 2015 climate change vulnerability index, seven of the ten countries that are under the highest threat, are located in Africa.

It is an unfair and ironic situation considering that the African continent only plays a minimal role in triggering the climate crisis. But this is the reality: the challenge of climate change is far more intense in Africa than elsewhere, because of the fragility of its food-processing system and economic model.

It is a dreadful observation but populations that are the most remote from globalisation, both in terms of responsibility and simple geography, are its first victims.
Africa suffers from climate warming that is 1,5 time higher than global average, with many worrying consequences. Its ecosystem, which is already weakened, makes the African continent less resilient to potential climate shocks, even though the frequency, intensity and length of external phenomena – droughts, flooding and others – are more intense.

These disruptions are a direct threat to agriculture and livestock farming, key economic sectors and food security. Ultimately, millions of people may lose their means of subsistence.

The urgency of addressing the challenges of climate change imposes a dual approach: reducing the causes and adapting to the consequences.

It is difficult for African countries to reduce their emissions:  those produced by the continent’s rare industries are negligible compared to those of our planet’s high polluters.

The African continent as a whole distributes 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, against 24% for China and 13% for the United States.
Adapting is an absolute priority but it has a cost. Today, it is estimated between 7 and 15 billion dollars a year and it will increase to 35 billion by 2040. Is the international community ready to increase its financial support to help Africa? There is a risk that the continent will go back to the starting point… having to face the devastating effects, in every sense of the word, of change climate.

Of course, there have been a few philanthropic initiatives from across the world to help the African people but the funding that has been granted turns out to be clearly insufficient.

Africa is therefore left on its own and has no other choice than to adapt. Paradoxically, this could prove to be an opportunity. African countries need to regroup and mutually learn from their experiences in order to adopt new approaches and develop new and more efficient strategies.

The continent needs to review its development model. It needs to plan and implement concrete adaptation measures, strengthen its resilience, review its food system, implement green economies that can resist to climate change, improve climate monitoring and meteorology. It is also an opportunity for African political and economic players to unite and adopt a common position in international negotiations in order to get adequate technical and financial support.

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