Africa needs to find $50bn fast, or an already bad climate change picture could get uglier: study

New UNEP report says coastal cities in Mozambique, Tanzania, Cameroon, Egypt, Senegal and Morocco are most at risk of major flooding.

A NEW United Nations study has tabled a multi-billion dollar bill in front of African countries, if they are to urgently and successfully initiate adaptation measures to climate change.

The Africa Adaptation Gap Report, the second so far, builds on an earlier one by UN environmental agency UNEP that highlighted the danger of the continent delaying further action.

It  shows that by 2050, Africa’s adaptation costs could rise to $50 billion a year if global warming is held to below two degrees celsius. But that would double to $100 billion, or 6% of Africa’s GDP, if the world, currently on a path that could place it to more than four degrees celsius by 2100, does not turn away from that course.

Adaptation is a matter of utmost urgency, the study says: Africa is the continent where a rapidly changing climate will deviate from “normal” earlier than across any other continent. 

Climate change has a direct impact on food security, water availability, flooding risk, urban areas and health.

There has been progress, the report says, such as the Green Climate Fund that became operational in December 2014, with about $10 billion in pledges. Half of that money has been earmarked for mitigation in developing countries. 

But the facts remain stark, the study released at the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) in Cairo, Egypt, says.

A warming of two degrees celsius would put over half the African continent’s population at risk of undernourishment.

Past global emissions scenarios committed Africa to adaptation costs to $7-15 billion a year by 2020. But only $1-2 billion has been flowing currently from a variety of sources.  

The study soberingly shows that even if new suggested avenues for revenue generation were implemented across Africa, only a maximum of $3 billion would be raised by 2020. The continent just does not have the capacity to respond using its own domestic resources.

This, as annual mean temperatures steadily rise higher than any temperature experience locally in history, are already happening in Central Africa and are projected to cover the entire continent over the the next 20-30 years.

By 2100, sea level rise along the Indian and Atlantic Ocean coastlines could on current course be 80 centimetres higher than in 2000, above the global 70 cm average, and could get worse, the report says.

This means the coastal cities of Mozambique, Tanzania, Cameroon, Egypt, Senegal and Morocco are most at risk of major flooding.

The report also provides for solutions and ways forward, including urging Africa to take take “effective and ambitious” mitigation action to deeply cut global emission reductions.

Climate finance pledges of $100 billion made in Copenhagen and Cancun need to be met by 2020 to help address historical resource allocation imbalances, and access to funding by African countries made easier and predictable, it says.

African countries must also better tap international, regional and domestic sources should be explored further.

The report explores the idea of levying transactions on Africa’s extractive industries, financial services and remittances, international trade and transport, and tourism to raise the required revenue. 

But it may not be enough.

“The estimated revenue shows that even if such regional revenues were generated by the application of these levies, however, adaptation costs would exceed the revenue generation capacity by as early as 2020.”

The study also offers other domestic avenues available for raising finance, from tax reforms to clamping down on illicit financial flows and roping in the private sector.

But the overall message however is that those most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions must look to alleviate the risk in the most affected countries.

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