By Onche Odeh
A new report by African think-tank, Power Shift Africa has revealed the true scale of the problem that some African countries are already facing while trying to adapt to climate changes due to greenhouse gas emission.
This is contained in Working Group II report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published on Monday highlighting the world’s adaptation needs.
The report titled, ‘Adapt or die: An analysis of African climate adaptation strategies’ examines the National Adaptation Plans submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by seven African countries including, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan and Togo.
The findings show that, despite hardly contributing to global greenhouse gas emissions, African governments are having to spend, already stretched resources, on climate adaptation.
According to findings from the report, African countries have to spend up to 5.6% of their Gross Domestic Products (GDP) on climate adaptation for a crisis they apparently did not cause
Some of the affected African countries include four of the 15 poorest countries in the world.
Sierra Leone, for instance, generates just 0.2 tons of CO2 per capita – 80 times less than the US, yet will have to spend $90 million a year on climate adaptation.
Ethiopia will be spending $6 billion a year on climate adaptation, 5.58% of its GDP
South Sudan, the second poorest country in the world according to the IMF, has suffered devastating floods in the last two years with more than 850,000 people displaced in 2021. These floods have led to water-borne diseases which have stretched the already limited healthcare system. Years of conflict have weakened the country’s infrastructure and public services. Yet South Sudan is set to spend $376 million on adaptation every year. This is about 3.1% of its current GDP.
According to its National Adaptation Plan, Sierra Leone is the third most vulnerable country to climate change, yet the average person there generates just 0.2 tons of CO2, 80 times less than that of the average American of 16.1 tons. But Sierra Leone will be spending $90m a year on adaptation, 2.3% of its GDP, which could be used to tackle poverty and other challenges.
Ethiopians are experiencing drastic climate change impacts, ranging from floods and diseases to hailstorms and wildfires. Droughts have become more severe, putting millions of lives at risk every year. Ethiopia will be spending $6 billion on adaptation a year, which equates to 5.6% of its GDP.
“This report shows the deep injustice of the climate emergency. Some of the poorest countries in the world are having to use scarce resources to adapt to a crisis not of their making,” Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, said.
He said, “Despite only having tiny carbon footprints compared to those of the rich world, these African countries are suffering from droughts, storms and floods which are putting already stretched public finances under strain and limiting their ability to tackle other problems.”
According to Adow, the crisis must be confronted.
“We are facing an adaptation crisis and it is vital that countries heed these warnings and do much more to provide the finance needed to tackle these adaptation needs. It is simply not acceptable for the costs to fall on those people who are suffering the most while contributing the least to climate change.”
He said Africa must take advantage of being the host of COP27 to advance their case before the world.
“This year’s COP27 climate summit will be on African soil, in Egypt. This needs to be the ‘Adaptation COP’ and address the historic imbalance which has seen adaptation neglected for far too long.
“We need to see massive levels of new funding committed at COP27 as well as a fund set up to deal with the permanent loss and damage caused by climate change.”
“It is both irresponsible and immoral for those that are the chief cause of climate change to look on while Africa, that has contributed next to nothing to climate change, continues to bear a disproportionate share of the impact. The time for warm words is long gone. We need urgent, scaled-up, long-term support from the world’s leading climate polluters,” Prof Chukwumerjie Okereke, Director of the Centre for Climate Change and Development, Alex Ekwueme Federal University of Nigeria, said.