African countries are participating in the 21st Conference of parties (COP21) in Paris at the background of the scientific findings that the continent is the least greenhouse gas emitter but the most vulnerable to effects of climate change.
As the world leaders meet in Paris with an aim to reduce the global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius before the 1950’s, scientists have warned that 2 degrees will expose the African continent to 4degrees warmer temperatures.
A situation the World Bank warns will lead to drought and floods devastating agriculture and economies in Africa “by 2030 extreme heat and droughts will leave 40% of the land currently used in growing maize incapable of growing maize and will also destroy the savannah grasslands supporting livestock farming” warned World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.
Dr Elija Gichuru, the Coffee Research Institute director, says rising temperatures and erratic rainfall is threatening sustainable coffee production by enabling outbreak of Coffee Berry Disease (CBD) and Coffee Leaf Rust diseases that decrease the quality and yield of coffee berries.
“Coffee berry disease affects young berries between one to three months and can cause 50-80 percent loss on average; while the Coffee leaf rust disease defoliates the plants making it loose leaves. This leads to lack of food for the plant and eventually poor quality coffee and yield” notes Gichuru
This Gichuru says is affecting the economies of nearly a million small holder coffee farmers in Kenya where coffee is ranked third in Kenya’s foreign exchange earnings.
In 2011-2012 drought in East Africa affected over 13 million people in the region. Pasture and water scarcity due to recurrent drought in northern region continue to be a key driving force for conflict between communities in the porous borders as livestock and people move around.
Evans Kituyi a Senior Programme Specialist on Climate Change at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) notes that, the continent’s backbone sectors, such as agriculture, energy, tourism, and healthcare, are highly climate sensitive and dependent on healthy ecosystems.
“COP21 provides a platform on which most of these issues will be debated and decisions for action negotiated and embedded in binding agreement “notes Kituyi
He adds that climate change posses uncertain but potentially more risks which include breakdown in food systems, violent conflict associated with resource scarcity and population movement, and exacerbation of poverty, undermining the health and other objectives of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
How is Africa adapting to Climate Change on its own?
Despite contributing only 4% of the global emissions, African countries through their Internally National Determined Contributions (INDC’s) have committed to reducing their emissions.
“Despite the fact that Kenya contributes a mere 0.1% of the total global emissions, we have pledged to voluntarily take national measures and actions for emission reduction and for enhancing adaptation to climate change,” noted the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta during his head of state speech at the opening of the conference.
Kenya has committed to reduce her carbon emissions by 30 percent, with Ethiopia committing by 64% while Uganda’s commits to cut emissions by 22% and Tanzania to a 10-20% cut by 2030.
According to the United Nation Development Program (UNDP), it is estimated that the cost of Africa's adaptation to climate change will be between $10-30 billion a year by 2030.
Since Copenhagen in 2009 developed countries pledged to give USD100 Bilion a year by 2020 and promised to provide USD30 Billion in what they called “fast start finance” period of 2010-2012.
According to George Wamukoya a technical adviser to the African Group of Negotiators despite the pledges there are no mechanisms to hold the countries accountable to their commitments.
“By 2012 Africa had received USD 132 million only for adaptation and there is no clear path to ramp up support for the USD100 billion pledged by 2020 as pledges are voluntary” he notes
Kituyi says Africa needs to sustain pressure at the negotiations on the developing countries to honour their commitments. But he also calls on the African countries to raise more funds locally from their national budgets and invest in climate solutions.
"This article was produced in the framework of the Media21 Africa Project by CFI, the French operator in media cooperation"