If African countries don’t change their current climate policies to align with the Paris Agreement, and continue suffering climate funding shortfalls from the west, they could lose 64% of their GDP due to climate change devastation according to a report (pdf) released by UK relief agency Christian Aid on Nov. 9.
Warning that the continent needs a robust loss and damage mechanism the report indicates that even if African countries “keep global temperature rise to 1.5C as set out in the Paris Agreement, they’ll face an average GDP reduction of 14% by 2050 and 34% by 2100.” The World Bank estimated Africa’s GDP at $1.92 trillion in 2021.
The study surveyed 50 African countries. In the worst hit country, Sudan, even in a 1.5 degrees scenario, it can expect a GDP reduction of 22.4% by 2050 and 51.6% by 2100. The least affected country is South Africa.
Despite being the least responsible for climate change, Africa remains disproportionately vulnerable to the growing adverse impacts caused by global heating, with the eight of the ten most vulnerable countries being African. They are also the least prepared to tackle the crisis.
The report shows that the US and Canada generate 14.2 tons of carbon dioxide per person, Australia 15.4, and Saudi Arabia 18 yet the top 20 worst affected countries in the world generate average emissions of just 0.43 tons.
“These findings are stark and deserve to act as a wake up call to leaders of all countries about the economic devastation African countries face unless we put the brakes on our rising emissions,” Oliver Pearce, chief of policy, public affairs and campaigns at Christian Aid says in the report.
Climate change is killing and displacing Africans
Floods in Nigeria left over 600 people dead and displaced 1.3 million from their homes in October, while Cyclone Ana in Malawi displaced 190,429 people in January. At least 453 people died as a result of flooding in South Africa in April, while hundreds perished due to devastating tropical storms in Madagascar and Mozambique in the same month. On Aug. 3, at least 24 Ugandans lost their lives as flash floods hit the town of Mbale. This year alone, climate-change has caused one of the worst droughts in the Horn of Africa region.
If nothing is done, Africa’s economic growth will be stunted by climate shocks, creating a poverty trap for millions of citizens who will be on the widest section of the “highway to climate hell,” a phrase popularized by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres.
Dragged down by failed promises of climate financing from the west, African countries have been asking for at least $1.3 trillion to cover the damage they have experienced, with the message being even more amplified during the ongoing COP27 climate negotiations in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Africa now wants direct financing and not awards in carbon credits like before.
Africa has called out the west for failed climate promises
Namibia’s president Hage Geingob believes “rich countries don’t care about climate,” and feels that the west has not pledged enough to save Africa’s future generations. He has called for the “scaling up of the levels of climate finance, through providing concrete long term-targets for climate finance pathways and accounting methodologies for the collective goal by developed countries to reach $100 billion a year from 2025 and beyond,” he said.
Kenyan president William Ruto criticized the west for “skirting around issues and delay tactics” in financing climate adaptation in Africa. He asked developed economies to compensate the continent “no later than 2024”.
According to a UN Adaptation Gap report published on Nov.1, international adaptation finance flows to developing countries are five to ten times below estimated needs. Estimated annual adaptation needs are $160-340 billion by 2030 and $315-565 billion by 2050.