Africa can lead the charge on climate change: Africa, more than any other region, is suffering the ill-effects of climate change and must now take the initiative to make changes rather than wait for others to do so.

Author:Ichikowitz, Ivor

Climate change denialists and those leaders who are slow in taking action on climate change will be judged by history. There is little time left to waste on them.

Despite the best efforts of the global community, the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) late last year, didn't deliver on clear actions that would save the planet. We are indeed rearranging the deck chairs while the Titanic is sinking.

Previously, there had been hopes that joint action on climate was inevitable. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) very clearly sounded the alarm, calling for steep and drastic cuts in emissions in order to reach the target of a 1.5 degree increase in global warming to avoid climate catastrophe.

That optimism however, clearly proved to be premature. If the devastation that we have seen in Australia isn't a wake-up call, then what will be? Already scientists warn that this 'fire weather' could be the new normal in a world where we have a three degrees Celsius temperature rise.

The bush fires, together with Caribbean hurricanes, Pacific typhoons or African cyclones, combined to cause approximately $150bn worth of damage in 2019.

While many of the world's developed nations may possess the infrastructure, capital, geography and other assets needed to withstand such delays, their less developed counterparts do not. And time is running out.

But these are not easy choices. Africa concurrently and desperately needs to pursue robust and aggressive economic development at every level to lift millions out of poverty, and yet, this same development activity can have a corresponding impact on climate.

At the moment, Africa is very far from being the cause of the global climate crisis. According to the World Bank, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for a paltry 2.27% of the world's total C02 emissions, as compared to the US and the EU, with their portions totalling 14.54% and 8.97% respectively. When calculated in per capita terms, the disparities between sub-Saharan Africa and developed regions are even wider.

Heaviest burden falls on Africa

Yet despite the fact that Africa isn't causing global warming, we are definitely suffering its consequences.

When Cyclones Idai and Kenneth rampaged through Southern and Eastern Africa in 2019, they left hundreds of thousands homeless in their wakes, with the floods that followed from those historic storms causing the number of reported malaria cases to soar in a region the World Health Organisation (WHO) states already accounts for almost 80% of the global malaria burden.

In other parts of sub-Saharan Africa...

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