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Climate threat 'looms largest for Africa'

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  • Mike Neuman
    Climate threat looms largest for Africa Catherine Brahic 17 December 2004 Source: SciDev.Net Africa s lack of scientific and technological capacity means it
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 4, 2005
      Climate threat 'looms largest for Africa'
      Catherine Brahic
      17 December 2004
      Source: SciDev.Net

      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
      can improve.

      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
      international community.

      "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
      extreme conditions."

      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
      Africa's vulnerability.

      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.
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