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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.