Loss and Damage in Africa

Africa is a hotspot of vulnerability to the adverse impacts of human-induced climate change
Loss and Damage in Africa

Based on existing emissions trends and mitigation pledges, the science shows we are on course to a 4°C world by 2100. At such warming levels, impacts for Africa are expected to be very substantially greater than if warming were held below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels.

  • Unusually extreme heat events are projected to increase rapidly, becoming the “new normal” by 2100 in a 4˚C world. At around 1.5°C about 25% of Africa’s land area is projected to experience unusual heat extremes in summer, and this rises quickly, exceeding 45% in a 2°C world and 85% in a 4°C world. In central Africa, however, already in a 2°C world such heat extremes would prevail in 60-80% of the summer months. 
  • Significant increases in, and exacerbation of, water stress are projected under 2˚C in many African countries, rising to very high levels in a 4˚C world. Desert and dry-land areas are projected to increase by 4%, compared to 1% of the land area in a 2°C warmer world.
  • By 2100 sea-level rise along Africa’s coastlines is projected to be approximately 10% higher than the global mean. In a 4°C world and assuming no adaptation, Egypt, Mozambique and Nigeria would be most affected by sea-level rise in terms of number of people at risk of flooding annually. The largest share of population would be at risk in Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and The Gambia, with up to 10% of their national population at risk of being flooded annually. 
  • The Nile Delta of Egypt is an example of the vulnerability of tourism to inundation and saltwater intrusion associated with sea level rise. For example, 1m of sea-level rise, which could occur in a 4°C world, would increase the area of land below sea level in Alexandria from the current level of about 30% to 60%, exposing valuable cultural sites to storm surges.
  • Larger tropical cyclone-induced storm surges are another impact of global climate change, which, in conjunction with sea-level rise, would place more people at risk of coastal flooding. Even in a 2°C world, present 1-in-100-year storm surges of 1.1m could become 1-in-20-year events. Tunisia, Tanzania and Mozambique are among the most exposed in the developing world overall and in terms of proportion of land area, GDP, urban land area, agricultural area and wetlands.
  • Increasing ocean acidification and rising temperatures would have severe consequences for coral reefs and ocean ecosystems generally. Most coral reefs are projected to be extinct long before 4°C warming is reached, resulting in loss of associated marine fisheries, tourism, and coastal protection against sea-level rise and storm surges. Increases in coral bleaching may be limited if warming is held to 1.5°C, but would be very substantial even in a 2°C world, posing significant risks to the ongoing survival of reefs in the region. 
  • At warming around 3°C, virtually all of the present maize, millet, and sorghum cropping areas across Africa could become unviable for the present current crop varieties. Maize and wheat productivity is projected to decline for a below 2°C warming by 5% and 17% respectively for sub-Saharan Africa by the 2050s. 
  • Rates of undernourishment in the Sub-Saharan African population are projected to increase by 25-90% compared to the present at a warming of around 1.5°C by 2050. The negative impacts of climate change on nutrition are projected to increase the proportion of children severely stunted by 50% compared to a future without human-induced climate change. (Lloyd, Kovats, & Chalabi, 2011)

The need for adaptation measures to cope with these projected impacts is significant even at 1.5-2°C warming. However, the Loss and Damage in Africa report shows that under all warming scenarios and despite strong adaptation efforts in the region, considerable adverse effects of climate change will be felt in Africa, resulting in further loss and damage.