WATCH: Barriers facing African climate mitigation and how to adapt to a changing climate

There are numerous barriers to climate mitigation facing climate activists and governments in Africa. Picture: blende12/Pixabay

There are numerous barriers to climate mitigation facing climate activists and governments in Africa. Picture: blende12/Pixabay

Published Mar 9, 2022


The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II report which was published last week Monday recognises the interdependence of climate, ecosystems, biodiversity and human societies and integrates knowledge more strongly across the natural, ecological, social and economic sciences than earlier IPCC assessments.

Although Africa has contributed among the least to global greenhouse gas emissions, the report states with high confidence that key development sectors in Africa have already experienced widespread losses and damages attributable to anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change, including biodiversity loss, water shortages, reduced food production, loss of lives and reduced economic growth.

Africa has borne the brunt of climate change impacts and is projected to carry a heavier burden if global temperature increases are not kept below the 1.5°C threshold.

There are numerous barriers to climate mitigation facing climate activists and governments in Africa. The report states that technological, institutional, and financing factors are major barriers to feasible climate adaptation on the continent.

Adaptation generally is cost-effective, but annual finance flows targeting adaptation for Africa are billions of US dollars less than the lowest adaptation cost estimates for near-term climate change.

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This means that there just isn't enough money to help fund the adaptation strategies required to install meaningful change which would help Africa become more resilient to a warming planet.

The report found that climate-related research in Africa faced severe data constraints, as well as high rates of inequities in funding and research leadership that reduce adaptive capacity.

Climate-related research in Africa received just 3.8% of global climate research funding between 1990 and 2019.

Although costs associated with climate adaptation strategies are relatively cost-effective, these are forecasted to increase rapidly with a warming climate. In a nutshell, the warmer it gets, the more expensive it is to implement mitigation measures.

Examples of adaptation strategies include increased water-saving measures, domestic and commercial rainwater harvesting, research and development of drought-resistant crops, modernising of climate-sensitive infrastructures such as harbours and road networks.

According to the report, “increasing public and private finance flows by billions of dollars per year, increasing direct access to multilateral funds, strengthening project pipeline development, and shifting finance from readiness activities to project implementation would help realise transformative adaptation in Africa.”

Concessional finance will be required for adaptation in low-income communities. Integrating climate adaptation into social protection programs, such as cash transfers, public works programmes and healthcare access can increase resilience to climate change.

Gender-sensitive and equity-based adaptation approaches reduce vulnerability for marginalised groups across multiple sectors in Africa, including water, health, food systems and livelihoods.

This is important as many households in Africa are maintained and run by women who fetch water, tend to subsistence gardens and take care of children. The ability of African women to adequately provide for themselves and their families will be negatively affected by climate change.

The report concluded that the establishment of early warning systems based on targeted climate services can be effective for disaster risk reduction, social protection programmes, and managing risks to health and food systems. These climate change warning systems could provide governments with ample time to prepare for and respond to climate disasters such as hurricanes, storm surges, floods and droughts.