Strengthening Africa’s climate resiliency

By 2020, Africa will spend $7-15 billion annually to adapt to climate change, and the price tag could hit $50 billion by 2050. Fortunately, proactive policies and investments in sustainable development could unleash a wave of economic opportunity, which in turn could make adaptation more manageable.

CAPE TOWN – The fight against climate change could be reshaped in the final month of the year, with the just-completed G20 summit in Argentina followed this week and next by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland. But will leaders be bold enough to push for bold policies to keep global temperature rise “well below” 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the target set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement, or will they respond with a collective shrug?

Whatever the answer, the ramifications will be felt most acutely in Africa. That means Africans must be prepared for either outcome.

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a comprehensive report demonstrating that anthropogenic activity has warmed the planet by 1°C since the pre-industrial era and that every additional fraction of a degree will impose high costs. For example, by 2020, Africa will spend $7-15 billion annually to adapt to climate change, and even if warming is held below the 2°C threshold, the price tag could hit $50 billion by 2050. Countries of the Sahel could also suffer GDP declines of up to 6% in the coming decades as a result of climate-related water stress.

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First published by University of Cape Town