Monday, June 16, 2008

Worst hit by climate change -- Africa, excerpted from "Africa's Development: Promises and Prospects - Report of the Africa Progress Panel 2008”: Global warming is well underway, and its consequences are already visible in Africa. Severe drought lurks behind the Darfur conflict, for example, and it is very likely that the problem will worsen rapidly. The current crisis of high food prices may also be the result of climate change— some argue that the drought in Australia is caused by factors related to this phenomenon.

[In a map displaying]… the projected impact of global warming on African agriculture if nothing is done to restrain carbon emissions… [a] red swathe, signifying agricultural productivity losses greater than 25%, covers much of developing world…. African countries are projected to be among the worst-hit. Losses of the projected magnitude will be unprecedented, causing huge setbacks in the struggle against poverty and creating millions of impoverished environmental refugees. This will only exacerbate the ongoing trend of rising food prices— one which shows no signs of decreasing anytime in the near future. It is now evident that without addressing the problem of climate change, Africa cannot achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals.

A difficult and unsettled issue is that of accumulated carbon dioxide emissions by industrial countries. In due course, an agreement must be reached on an equitable way to share the climate change bill, both past and future. The G8 should consider a special contribution, beyond current pledged amounts, for the adaptation of the most vulnerable countries. And developing countries must recognize that they face an emissions problem themselves. Even if industrialized countries halted all carbon dioxide emissions immediately, business-as-usual practices in the developing world would continue to cause global warming (Wheeler and Ummel, 2007). Climate change must be addressed by focusing on reducing emissions everywhere—countries must work together and help each other to reduce emissions rather than apportioning blame.

NASA image of Africa, Wikimedia Commons

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