Tuesday, April 10, 2007

IPCC Report Underlines Risks to African Economy from Greenhouse Gases

UNEP Press Release – Climate Proofing Africa Key Challenge for the Continent
UNEP Press Release – IPCC Outlines Strategies for Responding to the Impacts of Human-Caused Climate Change

According to a press release released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Africa requires urgent assistance to adapt to climate change and action by industrialized countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions if the Continent and its people are to thrive in the 21st Century.

A regional report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that the continued increase in greenhouse gases will later this century put up to 1.8 billion more people in Africa at risk of water stress.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UNEP which co-founded the IPCC, said: “The report underlines the enormous costs facing Africa as a result of unchecked climate change – costs which are wholly unacceptable for the 800 million people alive today and for the generations to come. It is the Continent with the least responsibility for the climate change and yet is perversely the Continent with the most at risk if greenhouse gases are not cut.”

According to the report, even a small temperature rise could lead to falls in water flows equal to one large dam being lost annually. African tourism, mostly based on nature, will be significantly impacted with 25-40 percent of the animal species in sub-Saharan Africa to become endangered. Arid and semi-arid lands are likely to increase by up to eight percent with important ramifications for livelihoods, poverty eradication, and meeting and maintaining the Millennium Development Goals. Sea level rise, especially along the east African coast, will increase flooding at a cost of up to 10 percent of the GDP. The report predicts that wheat may disappear from Africa by the 2080s.

The IPCC finds that early action to improve seasonal climate forecasts, food security, freshwater supplies, disaster and emergency response, famine early-warning systems and insurance coverage can minimize the damage from future climate change while generating many immediate practical benefits.

The IPCC also emphasizes that adaptation – in developed but especially vulnerable developing countries – is also needed to cope with the climate change already underway. “‘Climate proofing’ infrastructure and agriculture to health care services and communities will require investment but equally intelligent planning so that it is central to decision-making rather than on the periphery.”

Question: Is there anything else that developing countries should do to minimize the damage from future climate change to Africa?

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