Adapting to climate change could cost the African continent around USD 7-15 billion per year by 2020, says the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Policy makers are gripped by global warming and climate change issues that they believe threatens coastal life in Africa and could impact a range of industries including farming, tourism and fishing.If global temperatures rise by around 3.5 to 4 degrees centigrade over the next few decades, they could lead to a catastrophic fate for the most vulnerable countries and even damage the prospects of rich states.
Efforts to rein in climate change in recent years have been scuttled by many developed and developing countries, which have made a conscious effort to pursue growth at the expense of the environment.
The UNEP report states that even if the world does manage to get on track to keep warming below 2°C, Africa’s adaptation costs will still hover around USD 35 billion per year by the 2040s and USD 200 billion per year by the 2070s – with total costs reaching 1% of the continent’s GDP by 2100.
“Missing the 2°C window will not only cost governments billions of dollars but will risk the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people on the African continent and elsewhere,” said UN under-secretary general and UNEP executive director, Achim Steiner.
“Even with a warming scenario of under 2°C by 2050, Africa’s undernourished would increase 25%-90%. Crop production will be reduced across much of the continent as optimal growing temperatures are exceeded. The capacity of African communities to cope with the impacts of climate change will be significantly challenged.”
Adapting to global warming would cost Sub-Saharan Africa about USD 13 billion and Middle East North Africa around USD 1 billion each year till 2020. These costs could jump to around USD 24 and 5 billion, respectively, by 2040 if the world’s temperature rises to 2°C globally.

“In Sub-Saharan Africa, the highest adaptation costs are projected to be needed in the water supply, coastal zone protection, infrastructure, and agriculture sectors. For Middle East [and] North Africa, the focus of adaptation is in infrastructure, coastal 
zone protection, and adapting to extreme weather events,” the report noted.

However, the continent has a desperate funding shortage to manage these contingencies.
Developed countries had pledged to offer up to USD 100 billion by 2020 to help developing countries manage the impact of climate change during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 — but so far they have not lived up to that promise.
Funds focused on African efforts on climate change adaptation amounted to USD 743 million in 2010 and USD 454 million in 2011, the report notes. In order for Africa to meet the funding targets, these disbursements will have to grow annually by around 20% each year till 2020.
“At this stage there is no clear sense of how much of these funds would benefit countries in the African region, nor of the likely allocation between adaptation and mitigation funding,” the report noted. “Until these issues are resolved it is not possible to assign share of the USD 100 billion annual commitments by 2020 to Africa.”

A warmer world could have a catastrophic impact on many countries in Africa. The report warns that Egypt, Mozambique and Nigeria are likely to be most affected by sea-level due to annual flooding.The combined effects of a 10% intensification of storm surges in addition to one-meter sea-level rise could make Tunisia, Tanzania and Mozambique as among the most exposed in the developing world.
Average annual loss of GDP in key African cities like Abidjan in Ivory Coast and Alexandria in Egypt could take a huge human and economic toll on these countries, the report warns.
Extreme heat events and droughts could also be the norm in a world which is 4°C warmer, the report notes. Weather-related events could wipe out growth in many African states as they spend heavily on mitigating the threats of climate change and lose revenue from agriculture and tourism sectors.
The report warns the tourism industry in Morocco and Tunisia is expected to be significantly affected simply by increases in temperature that could render summertime and even the off-peak seasons less pleasant.
“The loss of biodiversity and important species in nature parks and reserves as result of climate change impacts could affect their attractiveness as tourist destinations,” UNEP said.
“One such attraction is Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania – one of the nation’s main tourism attractions. It is suffering severe glacial melt and, along with the other glaciers of East Africa, is expected to disappear altogether in the coming decades.”
Crops and livestock are also particularly vulnerable, especially as the seasonal changes lead to flooding, drought or temperatures that are not conducive to the production of staple produce.
Meeting adaptation costs in Africa is a twofold challenge, the report concludes. “First, it requires strong mitigation actions to keep global mean temperature increase below 2°C. Beyond this temperature, adaptation costs in Africa might become unmanageable. “Furthermore, even if global mean temperature increase is kept below 2°C, existing global climate funding will still not be sufficient to meet Africa’s and the rest of the world’s adaptation costs. Adaptation funding will therefore have to be scaled up at a rate consistent with the costs for adaptation on the continent.”Photo Credit:Reuters/Reuters Staff