The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report:What It Means For Africa

On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), a body of scientists convened by the United Nations, released its report that assesses the state of scientific knowledge on climate change, its impact, and future risks as well as suggestions for adaptation and mitigation. Using the most up-to-date knowledge about climate change, the report aims to inform policymakers about what scientists know about the issue, and from the recently released report, it is not looking good for Africa.

Here are a few facts with regard to how the forecasted change in climate is going to affect Africa:

  • "The frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events are projected to increase almost everywhere in Africa with additional global warming"
  • "Relative sea level has increased at a higher rate than global mean sea level around Africa over the last 3 decades. Relative sea-level rise is likely to virtually certain to continue around Africa, contributing to increases in the frequency and severity of coastal flooding in low-lying areas to coastal erosion and along most sandy coasts"
  • "Marine heatwaves have become more frequent since the 20th century and are projected to increase around Africa"
  • "Observed increases in hot extremes (including heatwaves) and decreases in cold extremes (including cold waves) are projected to continue throughout the 21st century with additional global warming"
  • "The rate of surface temperature increase has generally been more rapid in Africa than the global average, with human-induced climate change being the dominant driver"
  • "Mean temperatures and hot extremes have emerged above natural variability, relative to 1850–1900, in all land regions in Africa"
Additionally, according to the report, the Southern Africa region should expect, as a result of global warming, an increase in aridity, agricultural and ecological droughts, increase in mean wind speeds and fire weather conditions, increase of category 4-5 tropical cyclones as well as pluvial flooding.

What is most harrowing is that, according to the report, there is nothing that can be done to curb these looming impacts of climate change because leading emitters of greenhouse gases, being China, the USA, the European Union, India, Russia, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Iran, and Canada, have delayed curbing their emissions for so long that they can no longer stop global warming from intensifying by 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next two or three decades.

Even though there is nothing that can be done to prevent the 1.5 degrees celsius increase, there is still hope to prevent an Earth temperature increase of 2,3 or even 4 degrees celsius which would obliterate civilization as we know it. What is needed is a coordinated effort among the leading emitting countries to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2050 by shifting away from fossil fuels immediately as well as removing vast amounts of carbon from the air.

Africa has always had an inversely proportional relationship with climate change in that even though the continent does not contribute even a fraction to greenhouse gas emissions, it still feels the most adverse of effects of climate change. This is because of its limited disaster preparedness capabilities to deal with extreme weather conditions such as floods, heatwaves, droughts, tropical cyclones, etc. To be straightforward, Africa continues to pay for the sins of the global West And East nations.

Considering the fact that Africa is not responsible for much of the warming up of the planet, in order to prepare for the looming impacts of other nations' actions, disaster preparedness should be the first step. This will ensure that when the worst comes, its people will be ready to at least deal with it. I also believe inviting the continent to the table when these highly industrialized and emitting nations discuss their emission cutting initiatives will go a long way in putting pressure on them because after all, the continent suffers most from their actions.