The impacts of climate change disproportionately hit the world's poorest people. Find out about the impact of climate change on developing countries.
The impact of climate change presents another hurdle to the fight against extreme poverty and disease. Experts predict that in many sub-Saharan African countries, climate change could mean more frequent drought and floods, water scarcity and increased health challenges like under-nutrition. These new challenges will not only make achieving the Millennium Development Goals more difficult, they could also threaten some of the progress already made in fighting extreme poverty and disease.
Reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the United Nations Development Program provide the first startling details of the devastating impact climate change could have on African development. Projected impacts include the following:
The world is striving towards a global climate deal in 2011. Industrialized countries are historically responsible for the bulk of green house gas emissions. However, meaningful reductions in emissions today can only be achieved through an approach that includes emerging markets. In addition, developing regions like sub-Saharan Africa, must be enabled to embark on a low carbon growth path as they continue to grow their economic base and energy supply and demand. Industrialized countries have an obligation to support Africa and other regions in this endeavor. Moreover, it is in their interest to do so as climate change impacts will be felt throughout the world. Developing and emerging countries have signaled they would agree to a global climate deal if they are supported. In addition, there are untapped opportunities for partnering with sub-Saharan Africa to stem further declines. Africa's vast rainforests and natural resources could be invested in through re-forestation and agro-forestry programs to provide sustainable livelihoods and carbon storage/sequestration.
Responding to climate change requires action on two fronts: firstly "adaptation" to the consequences of current and future climate change and secondly "mitigation" of climate change by drastically reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding future emissions in developing countries and ensure carbon sinks, like the rainforest are preserved.
First, under the "polluter pays" principle that is widely recognized in wealthy countries, those who are among the largest emitters of greenhouse gasses should provide financing to help the poorest and most vulnerable communities adapt to climate change. The term adaptation encompasses a broad range of responses that help governments, communities and individuals cope with the impact of climate change. Ultimately, meeting the Millennium Development Goals is the best way for poor countries to adapt to climate change. In the immediate-term, adaptation approaches should focus on climate-proofing physical infrastructure as well as reducing the vulnerability of people through social protection programs. Agricultural investments including weather forecasting, improved irrigation and training are another key component. The incremental risks associated with climate change are pushing up the costs of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. For this reason, the G8 and other developed countries must ensure that resources for adaptation are additional to their long standing development assistance commitments so as not to divert resources from poverty reduction to adaptation. Estimates of costs for adaptation vary, from $35 billion - $100 billion a year.
Second, mitigation initiatives such as the European "cap-and trade" system have already been implemented and should be expanded and adopted by other industrialized countries. Under the EU's scheme, governments auction emission certificates to emitters e.g. power plants. Germany has already been tapping these extra revenues to support international climate programs. Other high emitting countries should follow suit by using these or other resources to support mitigation in both emerging and developing countries in three ways: Firstly, the G8 and other developed countries should work closely with developing countries and the private sector to chart a low-carbon development pathway through the use of energy efficient technologies and renewable energy resources. Secondly, Africa's vast rainforests and natural resources should be invested in through re-forestation and agro-forestry programs to provide sustainable livelihoods and carbon storage/sequestration. Thirdly, Africa could eventually provide geothermal and solar thermal energy not only for its own energy supply but for export to help industrialized countries achieve their reduction targets and these resources should be developed.
To achieve these aims the UNFCCC has called for greater technology transfer to developing countries. The UNFCCC has also called for the establishment of a global Green Fund to allocate $100 billion a year by 2030 to finance climate change adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.
19 Dec. 2009
An agreement of $10bn a year in fast track financing for the next three years and $100bn a year by 2020 for poor countries to cope with climate change must come over and above existing aid promises, Africa advocacy group ONE said today. Currently these sums will largely be subtracted from promised resources to help these same countries fight poverty. More
5 Nov. 2009
Finance Ministers from G20 countries meeting in Scotland this weekend are being urged to keep the world’s poorest high on their agenda as they discuss how to help developing countries adapt to the disastrous impacts of climate change – and contribute to stemming its rise. More
could face flooding by 2080 because of rising sea levels.
in sub-Saharan Africa could be exposed to increased water stress by 2020 as a result of climate change.
making it one of the world's most important carbon sinks.
Posted by Isabelle De Lichtervelde