It is unfair that despite the fact that Africa accounts for the smallest share of global greenhouse gas emissions, our continent is still very vulnerable to global warming and the effects of climate change.
The continent only contributes 3.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions which is modest when compared to China’s 18%, 19% in the US and 13% in the European Union.
President Donald Trump on Thursday (June 1st) struck a devastating blow to international efforts to reduce fossil-fuel emissions and mitigate global warming when he announced that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement.
In December 2015 at the Paris climate conference (COP21), the landmark achievement of getting 195 countries to adopt the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal was celebrated. The agreement set out a global action plan to get the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.
It was that agreement that President Trump pulled back from and while the world still wonders and debates about his decision, we should all probably know the ways that it will affect us.
In Africa, climate change is manifested as rising sea levels, increasing temperatures, and changes in rainfall patterns leading to floods or severe droughts.
Droughts in countries across Africa like Zimbabwe have already led to several incidences of food insecurity affecting wide swaths of populations. As for natural disaster, the continent has experienced more than 2,000 natural disasters since 1970 and just a little under half took place in the last decade.
According to the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings Institution, “Africa contains 7 out of 10 of the countries that are considered the most threatened by climate change globally.”
That list features; Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Nigeria, Chad, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, and Eritrea. The group went further to mention six ways that climate change will affect these countries;
- Access to water
- Food security
- Human health
- Rising sea levels
- Cost to development
- Extreme weather events
Quartz went even further to dissect the toll that climate change will take on some African cities. Here are the five African cities that will be most vulnerable to climate change;
Abidjan, Côte D’Ivore
Abidjan is located on the coast of the Atlantic and experts have long warned that the city could be flooded over several decades from now. High erosion rates in the areas of the Abidjan harbour have been reported by the Intergovernmental Panel. There is also the fact that the loss of mangrove forests has increased the vulnerability of coastal areas to damages from coastal storm surges.
Farmers in parts of the country are reporting patchy rainfalls and sunny spells while in other parts, heavy rains are threatening the mid-crop marketing season.
Cape Town & Durban, South Africa
Cape Town and Durban are two of SA’s top tourist destinations but rising sea levels, sand movement along the coast, increasing urbanisation, and the significant loss and extinction of important biodiversity underscore the challenges of climate change.
In March, Cape Town was declared a disaster area when authorities said that the city had barely 100 days of water left. Climate change is also contributing to food insecurity, environmental degradation, and unemployment in the cities and in SA in general.
Lagos has an estimated population of 21 million some of whom live on waterfront slums with no proper drainage or water systems. These and many middle to upper middle-income neighbourhoods, are vulnerable to flooding.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
According to the World Bank, Tanzania is the most flood-affected country in East Africa. Dar es Salaam is the country’s largest city. Its flat nature makes it prone to floods, which are expected to come with increased rainfalls and storm surges. The slums located along the floodplains of the Msimbazi river are also vulnerable to floods.
Coastal cities of North Africa
Researchers have said sections of North Africa could become so warm as a result of climate change that they are rendered uninhabitable. Haphazard rains, increasing desertification, intense droughts, and erratic rains have contributed to ruining harvests and livestock and decades of deforestation have also led to increased dust storms that roll through the desert and swallow entire villages and farmlands.