Sunday 23rd October 2016                 Change text size:

COP19: we have to ‘adapt or perish’, say African leaders at climate talks

Official U.S. Navy Page via Flickr.

African negotiators have called on the international community to help it face a range of climate-related challenges that they say will severely affect the continent if global average temperatures continue to rise.

Speaking in Warsaw during the UN climate talks, the leader for the African Group of Negotiators Tosi Mpanu said that African countries have asked for financial help to address climate issues caused by developed nations, but have so far received no support.

We witness instability in rainfall, diseases spreading, sea level rise and floods”, Mpanu said.

“One of the effects of climate change is to send Africans further and further to seek water. This brings them into conflict with other Africans. We are faced with wars on African soil that are not created in Africa.”

Mpanu referred to a report unveiled by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) called Africa’s Adaptation Gap, which argued that as temperatures increase, Africa will see more extreme weather, diseases and agricultural loss.

He added, “We came to this conference in Poland expecting help with the adverse effects of climate change, but so far there are no signs of the finance that Africa needs.

“We are hoping that the arrival [in Warsaw] of ministers will signal a strong political commitment to scale up the finance to help us adapt. There are many adaptation projects in the pipeline but the money to do them is running out. We need a top-up for these funds, but so far there is no sign of it.”

The report said that even if the temperature rise was kept under the 2C threshold, the African continent would still need to spend $150 billion in adaptation costs every year, rising to $350 billion if the warming exceeded 3.5C by 2070.

Ephraim Kamuntu, Uganda’s minister of water and environment, said, “This report provides concrete evidence that climate change in Africa is a reality. We have to adapt or perish, but our capacity to respond is limited.”

Further reading:

COP19: rich countries ‘have a moral responsibility’ to disaster-struck developing nations

Half of 2012 extreme weather events linked to climate change, says study

Philippines climate delegate: ‘we cannot manage on our own’

1 in 10 people will live in a ‘climate change hotspot’ this century 

Up to 5 billion people could experience extreme climates by 2050

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