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State of Climate in Africa Report 2020

29 October, 2021

State of Climate in Africa Report 2020 sets stage for “Decade of Action”

20/October/2021 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - The State of the Climate in Africa Report 2020, which is the second in a series covering Africa, was released last week. The new report indicates that Africa will continue to face the challenges of increased droughts, intense and stronger heat waves, storms, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, floods, cyclones and wildfires.

“By 2030, it is estimated that up to 118 million extremely poor people will be exposed to drought, floods and extreme heat in Africa, if adequate response measures are not put in place.” Josefa Sacko, the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture says in the report’s forward.

High water levels in the Congo River Basins, floods that caused 285 deaths in Eastern Africa, and affected over 800,000 in Sudan, extreme precipitation in Algeria and Morocco which destroyed infrastructure, cyclones in Mauritius, Mozambique and Somalia and sea level rise across the coastal and island states in the continent are recorded in the report.  “Glaciers are melting worldwide and that’s also the case when it comes to the three African glaciers of Mount Kenya, Ruwenzori and Kilimanjaro. If current trend continues we will not see any glaciers in Africa in 2040s.” Peterri Talaas, the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) warns.

The comprehensive State of Climate in Africa Report 2020 is a joint expert collaborative product of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), African Union Commission (AUC), sister UN agencies, climate and policy experts alongside partner scientific agencies.  This year’s report involved 68 African and global experts, 20 international and regional organisations and 8 UN agencies.

“The WMO has decided to be publishing regional climate reports. This is the second time that we have published the report for Africa. For us Africa is a special case. It is the most vulnerable when it comes to climate variation and climate change given that agriculture is an important part of African economies in terms of employment and even survival.”  Tallas says. “We have special focus for Africa when it comes to development activities as we have been discussing means to enhance the observational capacities and services skills of African meteorological services.” 

The report analysed climate data going back to 1900 with the year 2020 turning out to be the eighth warmest year on record.

“This report is being released right after the Sixth Assessment Report of Working Group One of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change. It addresses the most up to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change bringing together the latest advances  to climate science and combining multiple lines of evidence  from paleo-climate  observations processes understanding and global and regional climate simulations.” Jean Paul Adam, the director of the Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources Division (TCND) at ECA says. “By focusing on Africa, the report highlights the urgency  of the situation in the continent which while constituting 17 per cent of the global  population is responsible for less than 4 per cent of green-house gas emissions and has the least capacity to adapt to the impacts of a warming climate.”

The State of Climate in Africa Report 2020 shows that African mainland, islands and coastal cities will be exposed to the risks of climate change in the coming decades. “The rates of sea-level rise along the tropical and south Atlantic coasts and Indian Ocean are higher than the global mean rate at approximately 3.6mm per year and 4.1 millimeters respectively. Sea levels along the Mediterranean coast are rising at a rate that is approximately 2.9milimetre lower than the global mean.”  The report notes.

The premier UN meteorological agency, the WMO notes that in 2020 approximately 98 million people suffered from acute food insecurity and needed humanitarian assistance in Africa. “The compounded effects of protracted conflicts, political instability, climate hazards, pest outbreaks and economic crises  exacerbated by the impacts of the pandemic  contributed to an increase of almost 40 per cent in population affected by food insecurity.” Talaas, who presided over the launch of the report, says. “This report will have a positive impact on development in Africa.”

According to the WMO, the situation could have been worse without an early warning system and anticipatory actions. Dr Amos Makarau of the WMO Regional Office in Africa affirms this position. “Early warning can come from the WMO, but early action involves everyone. Africa needs a one stop shop where early warnings can be distilled for everyone to facilitate timely and appropriate actions to reduce and curb disasters.” Dr Makarau says.

The State of Climate in Africa Report 2020 anticipates longer warmer seasons, shorter colder periods and increased heatwaves undermining food security and posing risks to millions of lives in the continent.  

“Africa as this report emphasizes is warming more and at a faster rate than the global average.  This calls for more urgent and appropriate policy responses both in Africa and globally.” Adam says. “Beyond being a snapshot of climate trends, extreme weather  and associated risks and impacts  in key sensitive sectors the report highlights lessons for climate action in Africa it provides an important milestone for resilient pathways.”

The just-released report is intended to serve as a rigorous science-based advisory to inform member states, empower policy formulators, and decision makers on climate and associated impacts. It is also packaged as an evidence-based framework to enable other stakeholders such as those in the National Disaster Management Offices (NDMOs) and other stakeholders to implement suitable, sufficient and well-timed actions for the continent’s socio-economic development.

“This report underlines how a science based approach is the very foundation of sustainable development.” Says Adam who was speaking on behalf of the ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe.

Cameroon’s Minister for Transport Jean Ernest Massena Ngalle Bibehe who is also the chair of the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET) lauded the new report as a guideline that will boost African decision makers. “This report is a precious tool for decision makers, development partners and all stakeholders involved in climate negotiations.” Ngalle Bibehe says.

According to Ngalle-Bibehe, the State of the Climate in Africa 2020 amplifies three of the five pillars of the AU-led Integrated African Strategy on Meteorology focusing on provision and access of climate services as well as research and partnerships. “At the continent we have seen the value of meteorological services, the socio-economic benefits of meteorology products have been recognized and it is clear early warning systems saves lives.” Ngalle Bibehe says. “It is high time to note that investing in meteorological services is necessary for sustainable development as climate change is a threat to the attainment of SDGs and Agenda 2063.”

Seychelles Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Trade, Naadir Hassan also reiterated the importance of the latest report for the continent’s development planners. “The state of climate in Africa is a good tool for decision makers and climate negotiations as it regularly provides updates of climate conditions on the continent. The report provides science based evidence to inform adaptation processes in Africa. We need a paradigm shift to ensure our actions are climate smart and effective.” Hassan says. “For sustainable development to be realized there is a need to adequately support our national meteorological and hydrological services to provide high-quality products and services for effective adaptation to build resilience and for planning in the medium and long term. Policy makers’ planners and development partners need to know what the science is projecting for future planning.”

The report describes in detail Africa’s climatic zones of Mediterranean, Sahara including parts of the Sahel, West Africa, West African Monsoon, North Eastern Africa, Central Africa, South Eastern Africa, East Southern Africa and West Southern Africa. The island nations of Seychelles, Comoros, Mauritius, Madagascar, Sao Tome and Principe, Equatorial Guinea and Cape Verde alongside more than two dozen African coastal states which collectively host slightly more than 50 African cities are highlighted as facing severe climate related threats posed by sea-level and air temperatures rise.

It is anticipated that the early warnings contained in the report’s projections will trigger appropriate actions to address challenges of water supply, energy production, ecosystems, agriculture, and forestry and enhance disaster risk reduction and preparedness in the continent.

Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) Secretary General Velayoudom Marimoutou acknowledged the report as a vital arsenal, which will enhance the continent’s ability to manage weather hazards and improve early warning systems and responses.

Hamndou Dorsouma the Director in charge of Climate and Green Growth Division at the African Development Bank (AfDB) outlined the measures that the continental development financier is undertaking to facilitate the uptake of climate information services in the continent. According to Dorsouma, AfDB through the Clim-Dev Africa program is offering institutional support to strengthen capacity of the four main continental climate information generating and dissemination centres. The four are African Centre for Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD), the Agrometeorology and Hydrology Regional Centre (AGRHYMET), IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) and the Drought Monitoring Centre (DNC).

Stella Aura, the Director of the Kenya Meteorology Department welcomed the report terming it as a base to strengthen the continent’s early warning alert protocols emphasizing on the need to address climate data gaps in Africa through increased capacity building.

The new report also amplifies the consistent work of the ECA on Africa’s adaptive capacity and sets in motion accelerated efforts for actualizing the “Decade of Action” on climate resilience and sustainable development. 

“This report also helps pinpoint those areas that are most affected and therefore where the urgency of resilience investment is most needed. It is important that innovative and urgent investments are made to build the resilience of African economies to accelerate the achievement of SDGs.” Adam says.  

The timing of the release of the report, which is a fortnight before the UN climate summit, in Glasgow, has added impetus to Africa’s participation in the Conference of Parties (COP26). 

“Our continent remains extremely vulnerable and this report just two weeks before COP26 measures the degree of vulnerability in striking detail. Identifying these risks as comprehensively as possible is a key step towards achieving resilience.” Adam says. “COP26 should take cognizance of the implications of this report and ensure that the mechanisms are put in place to not only provision $100bn per year of climate actions but also unleash the opportunity for large scale financing of climate resilience as part of global recovery package. In this regard COP26 should also finalize arrangement for the operationalization of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement  ensuring in particular that both market and non-market mechanisms mobilize adequate and predictable finance and other resources to support urgent climate action targeting Africa’s urgent adaptation needs.”

ENDS