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Despite the 54 African countries being responsible for less than 4 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, Africa's 1.3 billion people are extremely vulnerable, as the continent continues to warm at a faster rate than the world average
Climate change will cause many of Africa's rare glaciers to disappear within the next two decades, a new report warns. This comes amid sweeping predictions of extreme suffering for the continent that contributes least to global warming, yet suffers the most.
This report by the World Meteorological Organisation and other agencies, released just ahead of the UN climate conference starting Oct. 31, provides a grim reminder.
Despite the 54 African countries being responsible for less than 4 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, Africa's 1.3 billion people are extremely vulnerable, as the continent continues to warm at a faster rate than the world average.
According to the new report, the shrinking glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, and the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda are symbolic of the rapid and widespread changes to come.
The report goes on to say that Africa's current retreat rates are higher than the global average, and if this pattern continues, the continent will suffer total deglaciation by the mid-2040s.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas spoke at the report launch on Tuesday and said that Massive displacement, hunger and increasing climate shocks such as droughts and flooding are in the future, yet the lack of climate data in parts of Africa "is having a major impact" on disaster warnings for millions of people.
Leonel Correia Sacko with the African Union Commission writes in the report, “Not only are physical conditions getting worse, but also the number of people being affected is increasing.”
Sacko adds that up to 118 million extremely poor people; those living on less than $1.90 a day, will be exposed to drought, floods, and extreme heat by 2030 if proper measures are not taken.
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Even though the African continent faces significant threats, African voices are underrepresented at global climate meetings and among those who write the most important scientific assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The amount of African contributions to IPCC reports is extremely low, according to a multi-country research project called Future Climate for Africa.
UN reports that famine-like conditions have already been created by climate change on Madagascar, an island nation in the Indian Ocean.
The costs ahead are enormous. The report estimates that the cost of climate adaptation for sub-Saharan Africa will be between $30 and $50 billion each year over the next decade or about two to three per cent of GDP.
“The cost of adapting to climate change in Africa will rise to $50 billion per year by 2050, even assuming the international efforts to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.”