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Climate Change, Africa’s conundrums and the upcoming COP27

By Mustapha Baba Azare  Scientists have over the years been raising the alarm for the global leaders to rise up and mend their ways to…

By Mustapha Baba Azare 

Scientists have over the years been raising the alarm for the global leaders to rise up and mend their ways to go all out for combating the climate crisis from the bottom of their hearts. This is in realisation that most of the unprecedented calamities posing a grave threat to the existence of the human race have been proved to be genesis or evolution of climate change. 

The far-reaching consequences of climate change have over the years been wreaking havoc on the planet in so many different ways, claiming lives and throwing a clog in the wheel of the 2030 targeted mission of the United Nations, known as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Scientists have stated that human beings have been proved to be culpable for 98 per cent of the causes of global warming and climate change. 

It is sad that the African continent has become a global epicenter of climate crises ranging from unprecedented rising  extreme weather, severe storms, erratic rainfall, catastrophic flooding, outbreak of water-borne diseases, displacements, armed conflicts, desertification, abject poverty, biodiversity loss, drought, to mention but a few. These sweeping effects of climate change have put the African continent in a terrible dilemma taking Africans’ lives, crippling socio-economic development, threatening food and water securities and raising so many questions for the continent’s future stability. 

The continent contributes the smallest share of global greenhouse gas emissions compared to their counterparts of the EU, Asia and USA owing to their abundant manufacturing industries and Large Combustion Plants (LCPs); it is unfortunate that the continent remains the most vulnerable to climate crisis.   

Each year, severe floods hit the continent, killing Africans, washing away villages and bridges, displacing families and flaring up water-borne illnesses. 

According to scientists and conservationists, urbanisation, illegal timber extraction, wood-fuel, overpopulation accompanied by artificial multidimensional grinding poverty have been turning Africa’s air-conditioning forests into heat-producing machines exacerbating temperature of the planetary atmosphere, culminating in desertification, hunger, famine, poverty, unemployment, forced migration and armed conflicts are attributed to land degradation. 

Besides, according to the recent report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), up to 65 per cent of productive land of Africa is degraded, while desertification affects 45 per cent of Africa’s land area. The FAO also forecasts that by 2030, Africa may lose two-thirds of its arable land if the march of desertification – the spread of arid, desert-like areas of land – is not stopped. 

The Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission, Josefa Leonel Correla Sacko, has recently said, “Africa is witnessing increased weather and climate variability, which leads to disasters and disruption of economic, ecological and social systems. By 2030, it is estimated that up to 118 million extremely poor people (i.e. living on less than US$1.90/day) will be exposed to drought, floods and extreme heat in Africa, if adequate response measures are not put in place. This will place additional burdens on poverty alleviation efforts and significantly hamper growth in prosperity. In Sub-Saharan Africa, climate change could further lower Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by up to 3 percent by 2050. 

Sincerely speaking, African leaders should ponder over rising illegal widespread deforestation of the continent’s pristine forests for wood-fuel and how the fastest-growing population, accompanied by abject poverty, is now putting the continent’s young generations in dire jeopardy. The low-income families of the continent have no option than to use wood-fuel for cooking since the price of clean energy, especially cooking gas, is very exorbitant. This is a major barrier to achieving goal seven of the UN’s 17 SDGs in Africa’s aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Kudos to the epic effort and commitment of the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) set up by African Development Bank and being funded by governments of Italy, Denmark, the USA and the UK for switching the continent to clean sources of energy so as to mitigate the climate crisis. 

It is refreshing that last year, the African Development Bank (AfDB) had pledged to mobilise $6.5 billion of the $14.32 billion to be given by donors for the continent’s Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) to accomplish its mission before  2030. Aside from attempting to achieve those targets, it will be a very good idea for the GGWSSI to use these funds in order to improve Africans’ access to clean energy.  

The initiative should also strive to ensure that Africa’s abandoned dam projects are entirely completed or to build perforated dams across the continent with a view to reducing incessant annual flooding that ravages  some countries like Nigeria. The attention of African leaders should be drawn to the fact that Africa’s vision of transitioning from dirty energy or wood-fuel energy will only be actualised when cooking gas is subsidised by their respective governments. 

As the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UNFCCC will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh of the Arab Republic of Egypt in November, African leaders should bust their guts and take full advantage of the conference by pleading with global leaders of developed world, international donors and humanitarian agencies to help intervene fully in their continent’s climate crisis.  

Mustapha wrote from Azare, Bauchi State via [email protected] 

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