Ambitious Cuts in Global Emissions, Increased and Innovative Adaptation Financing Needed to Spare Continent Worst Climate Change Impacts, Finds UNEP Report
Africa, the continent with warming deviating most rapidly from “normal” conditions, could see climate change adaptation costs rise to US$50 billion per year by 2050, even assuming international efforts keep global warming below 2°C this century, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.
Released at the 15th African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), Africa’s Adaptation Gap builds on UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2014, which showed that the world is not currently headed in the right direction for holding global warming below 2°C. This latest Africa Adaptation Gap report also builds on UNEP’s Global Adaptation Gap Report 2014, which found that adaptation costs in all developing countries together could climb as high as US$250-500 billion per year by 2050.
Produced in collaboration with Climate Analytics and the African Climate Finance Hub, the report says deep global emissions reductions are the best way to head off Africa’s crippling adaptation costs. It also finds that the continent’s domestic resources are insufficient to respond to projected impacts, but would be important to complement international funding for African countries—including meeting the Cancun climate finance commitments by 2020.
“The accelerating rate of climate change poses great adaptation challenges, of which we have been well forewarned,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “The best insurance against the many potential negative impacts of climate change is ambitious global mitigation action in the long-run, combined with large-scale and rapidly increasing funding for adaptation. Investing in resilience and adaptation as an integral part of national development planning can develop resilience to future climate change impacts.”
Africa’s looming climate crisis
Africa is the continent where a rapidly changing climate is expected to deviate earlier than across any other continent from “normal” changes, making adaptation a matter of urgency, the report says.
Warming projections under medium scenarios indicate that extensive areas of Africa will exceed 2°C by the last two decades of this century relative to the late 20th century mean annual temperature. Under a high warming pathway, temperatures could exceed 2°C by mid-century across much of Africa and reach between 3°C and 6°C by the end of the century. This would have a severe impact on agricultural production, food security, human health and water availability.
In a 4˚C world, projections for Africa suggest sea levels could rise faster than the global average and reach 80cm above current levels by 2100 along the Indian and Atlantic Ocean coastlines, with particularly high numbers of people at risk to flooding in the coastal cities of Mozambique, Tanzania, Cameroon, Egypt, Senegal and Morocco.
“This is not just a question of money; millions of people and their livelihoods are at stake,” said Binilith Mahenge, President of AMCEN and Tanzania’s Minister of State for Environment. “Africa’s population will be at an increasing risk of undernourishment due to increasing food demand and the detrimental effects of climate change on agriculture on the continent. Global warming of 2˚C would put over 50 per cent of the African continent’s population at risk of undernourishment. Yet, the IPCC showed that without additional mitigation we are heading to 4˚C of warming.”
“Rising to the challenge and addressing the systemic harm that climate change may cause in Africa, thus undermining the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, warrants leaving no stone unturned in exploring opportunities for supporting adaptation actions and measures in Africa,” he added.
Closing the funding gap
The report explores the extent to which African nations can contribute to closing the adaptation gap—especially in the area of identifying the resources that will be needed.
The evidence suggests that African countries—such as Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa—are already committing some resources of their own to adaptation efforts. Country-case studies in the report suggest that by 2029/2030, under moderately optimistic growth scenarios, Ghana could for example – based on hypothetical scenarios – commit US$233 million to adaptation financing, Ethiopia US$248 million, South Africa US$961 million and Togo US$18.2 million. However, international funding will be required to bridge the growing adaptation gap even if African nations commit to ways to increase domestic sources. Current levels of international finance, through bilateral and multilateral sources, are not sufficient.
“Because of the magnitude of the challenge, further examination of the potential and the feasibility of mobilizing untapped international, regional and domestic sources should be explored further,” said Mr Steiner.
Scaling up international climate finance under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) may lead to sufficient funding for adaptation, but even in that case, implementation can only reach its full potential if complemented by comprehensive and effective national and regional policy planning, capacity-building and governance.
The promotion of an effective enabling framework for private sector participation in adaptation activities would also be a key contributor to closing the funding gap, the report finds.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Africa’s Adaptation Gap 2 (2015) report can be downloaded here.
The UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2014 can be downloaded here.
The UNEP Global Adaptation Gap Report 2014 can be downloaded here.
The Africa’s Adaptation Gap 1 (2013) can be downloaded here.
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