A meeting held by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1989 provided a scientific view of climate change and its impact on the world. One could say the United Nation’s initiative was a little too late. The Horn of Africa had experienced the most severe droughts in 1970, and hundreds of thousands of people had died.
According to The IPCC's report, Africa would experience an increase in temperatures by 2010, particularly within the Sahel and parts of Southern Africa. Additionally, there would be a significant decrease in precipitation and more extended periods of La Nina events. Furthermore, it predicted that 1.8 billion people would be exposed to water stress by the turn of the century, something we can evidently see at the moment within the basins of the Niger, Lake Chad, and Senegal, which are experiencing a 40-60% decrease in available water. Despite have this forecast, it took the world two generations for climate change to receive this amount of coverage it is presently.
With only 54 countries, Africa is currently contributing less than 6% of the world's carbon emissions, whereas industrialized countries such as China and America generate 30% and 14%, respectively. Although Africa has the lowest contribution, it is the most vulnerable. A multi-agency publication coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in collaboration with multiple agencies released another report describing the consequences of climate change in the continent. The report warns of threats to health, food and water security, and socio-economic development. Africa is dependent on rain-fed agriculture and lags behind developed countries in technological infrastructure due to limited finances. As a result, Africa will experience the effects of climate change disproportionately.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa faces losses of US$520 million in direct economic damages yearly as a result of climate change. To offer some relief, developed countries, during the Paris Agreement, agreed to provide support for developing countries to fight back climate change. They pledged to raise US$100 billion annually to help vulnerable countries as a means of offsetting their carbon footprint. However, reports have since revealed that pledges are consistently falling short by at-least US$20 billion, and no efforts are being made to settle outstanding amounts.
A common theme we see is a lack of accountability from wealthier nations. In 2021 alone, most developed countries have been experiencing extreme weather events such as devastating floods, higher than average temperatures, and wildfires. At the most recent climate gathering in Glasgow, critical negotiations involved only big economies, i.e., US, EU, India, China. In the resolution, these same countries could not agree on the language in the Climate Deal, and some expressed concern with the terminology used, dubbing it ‘harsh.’ Then begs whether the world should look to and put trust in these 'rich' countries to see us through this crisis.
In a recent interview, Todd Moss, the Executive Director of the Energy For Growth Hub, gave his opinion on the issue. He said it is “rather unfair and distasteful for developed countries which contribute the most to greenhouse gas emissions to request the same level of commitment for energy transition as those with negligible contributions.” Furthermore, “developed countries are using 'fear-mongering tactics to slow down of economic development, by blaming Africa for future emissions due to the growing energy needs of the population.”