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5 Climate Change Messages From the African Continent

5 Climate Change Messages From the African Continent

Africa is set to suffer the most from climate change. Here are five key messages from the continent.

By Nicholas Westcott, Research Associate at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS, University of London

The outcome of the global climate change conference, COP26, and the world’s willingness to take the tough decisions necessary to contain global warming, will have bigger consequences for Africa than for most other continents. It is in Africa that the impact is already most destabilising.

And yet the continent’s 54 countries will struggle to make themselves heard. The critical negotiations will, as usual, be between the big economies; the US, EU, China, India.

A recent conference jointly hosted by the Royal African Society, International Crisis Group, and Africa Confidential on Climate, Conflict, and Demography in Africa sought to give African countries a louder voice.
It identified five key messages for African governments, some for them to take to COP26, others for them to take home and act on themselves. Each needs attention if African governments are to be able to mitigate, adapt to, and manage climate change in the coming critical decade.

Measure Change
African countries need to measure the scale of environmental change better, to understand what is happening. The continent is already on the front line of the impact of climate change, despite having contributed almost nothing to the problem.

Increasingly erratic patterns of rainfall have caused both droughts and floods across southern Africa, devastating tropical storms including Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique in 2019, while locust swarms caused desperate food shortages in the Horn of Africa.

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