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  • Hamza Kyeyune

As Africa’s Climate Warms Rich Nations Should Pay Up

Despite having contributed the least to global warming, Africa is "the most vulnerable continent on Earth" to climate change. Africa is often classified as "the most vulnerable continent on Earth" to climate change, despite having contributed the least to global warming. The continent has the lowest total greenhouse gas emissions, comprising 7% of the world’s share and the lowest per capita emissions.

Africa’s vulnerability is driven by a range of factors that include huge investments on the continent in infrastructure by developed countries, which in return play a significant role in greenhouse gas emissions. The continent is also constrained by fewer resources to adapt socially, technologically and financially.


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reports that over the next decades, it is predicted that billions of people, particularly those in developing countries, will face shortages of water and food and greater risks to health and life as a result of climate change.

The world is currently 1C warmer than preindustrial levels and scientists warn that every fraction of additional warming would worsen the impact. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report 2018 also highlighted the grave consequences of climate change especially for Africa.

if unreversed therefore, there exists exponential collateral damage threatening to undo Africa’s modest development gains and slip into higher levels of extreme poverty.



Africa solutions to Africa problems

African countries have outlined bold aspirations to build climate resilient and low-carbon economies in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Having signed and ratified the Paris Agreement, nearly all African countries have committed to enhancing climate action through reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and building resilience.

Uganda for example communicated her updated Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was later adopted as her Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) on ratification of the Paris Agreement in 2016, through which Uganda committed to reducing her national Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 22% in 2030 compared to the Business-As-Usual.

However, many of the commitments in Africa are conditional upon availability of adequate financial, technical and capacity building support. The continent will need investments of over $3 trillion in mitigation and adaptation by 2030 in order to implement its NDCs according to African Development Bank Group. The second State of the Climate in Africa report, finds that Sub-Saharan Africa needs an estimated $30 to $50 billion each year for the next decade to avoid even higher costs of additional disaster relief.


Like it is usually said, "the fight against climate change cannot be won unless it is won in Africa," no doubt the continent cannot do this alone, nor should she. While it is incumbent upon leaders of Africa to undertake ambitious action on climate adaptation and mitigation, the world’s developed economies must take action to help Africa to rollback the worst impacts of climate change created largely by them.

According to the African Development Bank Group, sea level rise and worsening floods are already costing $3.8 billion a year in West Africa, with total losses across the continent running at about $7-8 billion a year. This includes $2 billion in damage in devastating cyclones in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe as well as losses of a million hectares of crops to locusts and other damage from floods in East Africa and more land becoming desert in the Sahel. Climate refugees are already part of the flow of people moving outside of Africa, therefore, adapting to fast-worsening climate change impacts would require global financial changes to drive emissions cuts and putting a price on carbon to ensure the costs of climate damage are factored into production.


The flagship 2018 report from the New Climate Economy (NCE) and the Global Commission notes that bold climate action can deliver at least US$26 trillion in net global economic benefits through 2030, and could also generate over 65 million new low-carbon jobs, a breakthrough in showing that ambitious climate action is a win-win-win for the climate, people, and the economy.

If we don't take charge of our own destiny now, it doesn't matter how our planning for the future looks like, they will not happen. Climate change knows no borders, we can no longer continue doing business as usual, our approach must become more globally focused, with cross-border resource sharing, rich countries have to do more to help poor countries on adopting better standards for cushioning climate-related risks.


Using existing knowledge and solutions

Using existing knowledge to reverse extreme warming, without relying on the untried technology of solar radiation modification and other forms of geo-engineering, which could have negative consequences is due for all.

Türkiye for example has made ambitious climate change commitments, ratified the Paris Agreement and committed to net zero emissions by 2053 and double its goal to 41% by 2030.

The country also revised its climate change law and boosted the size of its preserved areas and through ecological corridors, it expanded its green spaces and is among the top three in the world with its 551 Blue Flag beaches. In addition, Türkiye leads global efforts for recycling through the “zero waste project” spearheaded by first lady Emine Erdoğan, endorsed by the spouses of nearly 30 heads of state and the UN Secretary General.

The initiative that aims to align the country with sustainable development principles, prevent uncontrolled waste and leave a “cleaner, developed” country for future generations, has already stemmed 3.9 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, several buildings across Türkiye have switched to the zero waste management system, which involves the separate disposal of garbage and recycling practices.

Therefore, as governments advocates for more concrete action against the impact of climate change and the prevention of global warming, they must pick up the pace and put greater efforts in addressing risks of climate impacts and biodiversity loss using existing knowledge and solutions, rather than commitment plans.



1.    Climate Change in Africa | African Development Bank Group

3.    State of Climate in Africa Report 2020 | United Nations Economic Commission for Africa,

4.    Peter Newell etal, 2021, Toward transformative climate justice: An emerging research agenda

5.    John Morton etal, 2017 Managing Climate Change Risks in Africa - A Global Perspective


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