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Africa ‘faces catastrophe’ unless West acts on climate change


Africa: October 29, 2006
Africa will go “up in smoke” unless the international community acts to curb climate change. A coalition of the UK’s leading development and environment agencies argue that global warming is already having a serious impact on Africa and will get much worse unless urgent action is taken now.
The group has released a report in the run-up to the next major United Nations conference on climate change, in Nairobi, Kenya, and the publication of the Treasury’s Stern Review on the economics of the problem.
Entitled Africa – Up In Smoke 2, the report is based on the latest available scientific research and evidence from those living on the front line of global warming.
Africa is already on average 0.5˚C warmer than it was 100 years ago, which is putting more strain on water resources. According to the UK’s Hadley Centre for Climate Change, future temperature increases over many areas of Africa will see double the global average increase, and drought patterns stand to worsen catastrophically.
The coalition calls for rich countries to make good their promises to reduce greenhouse gases made at Kyoto and go beyond them. It also calls for an overhaul of humanitarian relief and development; for donors to fund urgent measures to help communities adapt to a new and more erratic climate; and for both foreign donors and African governments to tackle poverty and invest in agricultural development.
Africa is the continent probably most vulnerable to climate change and the one that faces the greatest challenges to adapt to those changes. For millions of people in the Horn of Africa and the east of the continent, the success or failure of rains due over the next two months will be critical. The rains – or lack of them – will determine if 2007 will offer the prospect of recovery from the serious drought of 2005-06 or if it will be another year of desperately struggling to survive.
Climate change vulnerability in Africa
Multiple stresses make most of Africa highly vulnerable to environmental changes, and climate change is likely to increase this vulnerability. This graphic shows which of the regions of Africa (North Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean Islands) are most vulnerable to specific impacts of climate change. These impacts include desertification, sea level rise, reduced freshwater availability, cyclones, coastal erosion, deforestation, loss of forest quality, woodland degradation, coral bleaching, the spread of malaria and impacts on food security.
Click here, or on the graphic below, for full resolution

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