Climate threat 'looms largest for Africa'
- Climate threat 'looms largest for Africa'
17 December 2004
Africa's lack of scientific and technological capacity means it is
less prepared for the effects of climate change than any other
continent, says a report released by the UK government yesterday (16
The African Climate Report assesses the status of knowledge of
climate systems in Africa and recommends actions to help the
continent face the threat of climate change.
The report concludes that climate observation is less developed in
Africa than in any other region, and that scientific understanding
and technical expertise in climate systems are also very poor on the
It lists a variety of "options for collective actions" that could be
implemented in the short and medium term to help address Africa's
vulnerability to climate change. These include ways of strengthening
research capacity so that observing, modelling and predicting climate
The report suggests creating a training fund for African
climatologists and establishing a regional climate centre backed by
the World Meteorological Organization.
Other potential initiatives include creating an international
research programme on African climate and its relation to sustainable
development, possibly by establishing a specialist institute.
The causes of climate change are global, and largely brought about by
greenhouse gas emissions from industrialised nations. Africa is not
in a position to address these, says Declan Conway, who researches
African climate change at the University of East Anglia, United
Kingdom and is one of the report's authors.
Nonetheless, he adds, sustainable solutions to the threats posed by
climate change to Africa cannot be created and implemented by the
"The answers will come from Africa," says Conway. Solutions include
both increasing technical capacity and raising awareness.
According to Conway, a priority for Africa is to examine the
vulnerability of different regions to climatic variation and to
extreme weather conditions.
"We know that drought is more severe in southern Africa, that
rainfall variability in Ethiopia is involved in famine and that
Mozambique is highly vulnerable to floods," he said.
"It's a case of looking at those situations and trying to improve the
capacity to prepare and cope with more of the same and possibly more
The report fits neatly into the United Kingdom's two priorities for
its 2005 presidency of the 'G8' group of industrialised nations -
African development and climate change. Environment and development
ministers from the G8 nations will discuss the report's conclusions
at a meeting in the United Kingdom in March next year.
Launching the report, Margaret Beckett, the UK secretary of state for
environment, food and rural affairs said: "The challenges of climate
change and development in Africa are closely linked. But we urgently
need to improve our understanding of how climate change will affect
Climate has a significant impact on the livelihoods of millions of
Africans but its variability - combined with the continent's poor
capacity to monitor and respond to climate change - increases
Beckett presented the report yesterday at the annual summit of the
conference of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change, currently being held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.