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OPINION In our beloved, land-locked nation of Zambia, the government has demonstrated encouraging foresight and pragmatism in guiding the country’s efforts to mitigate the causes of the climate crisis and, more relevant to low-emitting African states such as Zambia, adapt to the hazards it brings. Although some of the world’s most powerful political figures are liable to deny it, we in Africa are living with the consequences of climate change every day in new ways. The impact is inescapable. Indeed, over the last several years, the 1.2 billion people living on our proud continent – the second largest population in the world – have suffered significantly the adverse effects of historic droughts, floods, storms and other severe weather events made ever more common by the warming of our planet. The world’s climate scientists, economists, development specialists, urban planners, engineers and any number of other experts among society’s public, private and academic spheres agree that these unnatural weather patterns are, more likely than not, destined to become the norm in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. Their conclusion? Governments of the world must re-evaluate their national priorities, and allocate far greater attention and resources to adapting their respective economies to this new normal, a verdict that increasingly appears to be gaining traction. This at least is the major takeaway from the recent 74th convening of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Here attendees focused nearly exclusively on climate change and how governments of the world can and should mobilise their political and economic resources to take action. This, of course, is easier said than done. Sub-Saharan Africa needs leadership and international coordination on this issue, and both are in short supply. The absence of urgency may be related to the fact that we are not the world’s worst polluters. Often discussed in recent years has been the region’s profound vulnerability to the hazards of climate change, despite being responsible for less than 5% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, and less than 2.5% of global cumulative CO2 emissions. Yet it is we who are suffering. No one will soon forget the “Day Zero” water crisis in Cape Town that came after three years of drought. But the problems are diversifying in scope and range. Average climate change-induced temperature increases in the region are projected to be significantly higher than the global mean. And, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the same can be said for the duration, intensity and frequency of droughts and major storms, such as Cyclone Idai. To make matters worse, while this alone is cause enough for alarm, sub-Saharan nations’ quickly growing population, insufficient infrastructure, lack of financial resources, institutional instability and over-dependence on industries highly exposed to climate change, such as agriculture and extractives, render the region ill-equipped to make the necessary adaptations. Yet, against the odds, there are some exceptions. In our beloved, land-locked nation of Zambia, the current government has demonstrated encouraging foresight and pragmatism in guiding the country’s…
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - Delegates at the Africa Climate Risks Conference have been informed that groundwater is more resilient to extreme climatic conditions especially in arid and semi arid areas, contrary to earlier beliefs – that the resource was vulnerable to the changing climatic conditions. “Through a project known as Groundwater Futures in Africa, we analysed the relationship between climate change and variability and groundwater in 14 sites in Africa,” Martin Todd, a Professor of Climate Change at the University of Sussex, Department of Geography. “What we found is that in arid regions, there was episodic recharge, which occur mainly as a result of intense storms that happen every few years, and sometimes even in years of low total precipitation,” said This, according to the scientist, it means that climate plays a dominant role in controlling the process by which groundwater is restocked. Generally, it means that extreme periodic flooding is what recharges aquifers in such arid and semi arid areas, providing a lifeline and livelihoods for people who depend on groundwater in such areas. The findings, which have since been published in the Nature scientific journal contradicts the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which states that ‘climate change over the twenty-first century is projected to reduce renewable surface water and groundwater resources significantly in most dry subtropical regions, intensifying competition for water among sectors.’ According to Prof Todd, groundwater is generally overlooked in terms of climate impact, and it is also an overlooked resource in Africa and underutilised compared to other continents. “With the rapid population growth and quest for development, there is going to be huge demand on water resources, and therefore we expect that groundwater is a resource that will be heavily developed in the future because climate change and variability is going to place increasing threat to surface water,” he said. The new findings from the study, which was supported by the United Kingdom research councils (Natural Environment Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council), the Department for International Development (DFID) and The Royal Society also highlight the need for improvements in models of climate and hydrology. The report indicates that climate models that can better predict the variability and intensity of precipitation events at the local scale, as well as the large scale, would allow hydrological models to better represent replenishment processes. Given a fact that extreme floods can be predicted up to nine months in advance, the researchers say that there is a possibility of designing schemes to enhance groundwater recharge by capturing a portion of flood discharges via a process known as Managed Aquifer Recharge. According to the British Geological survey, successful and sustainable development of groundwater resources in Africa is critical for future safe water supplies, economic growth and food security in the continent. The findings have come at a time several cities across the continent are beginning to exploit the groundwater, which has for long…
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - Enhanced forest protection, improved forest and agricultural management, fuel-switching and efficient cooking and heating appliances can promote more sustainable biomass use and reduce land degradation in Africa. The experts pointed this out at the 2019 Africa Climate Risk Conference (ACRC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, while addressing a team of African journalists at an event organised on the sidelines of the conference to discuss the importance of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) reports to Africa. The training was organised by Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN). Dr Tony Knowles and Dr James Kairo who authored the IPCC's Special Report on Land and Climate Change and the Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate respectively, took the journalists through what the report means for the African continent. Dr Knowles, the Lead Author of the Report on Land and Climate Change said that land was a critical resource that people rely on for food, water, health and wellbeing, yet, it is already threatened by the growing population pressure and climate change. “The time to act is now; delayed action will increase the costs of addressing land degradation, and can lead to irreversible biophysical and human outcomes,” said Dr Knowles. In 2016, the IPCC decided to prepare a special report after member states and observer organisations were asked to submit views on potential themes for special reports during the current Sixth Assessment Report cycle. Nine clusters were considered on different themes, including land, cities, and oceans. The Special Report on Climate Change and Land represents the second largest cluster and covers seven proposals from member states and observer organisations that related to land. When it was released in August 2019, the report showed that land is critically important as a source of greenhouse gas emissions and is also a solution to many problems caused by climate change.According to Dr Knowles, population growth and changes in consumption of food, feed, fibre, timber and energy have caused unprecedented rates of land and freshwater use. “We, humans, affect more than 70 percent of ice-free land. A quarter of this land is degraded. The way we produce food and what we eat contributes to the loss of natural ecosystems and declining biodiversity,” said the lead author of the land report.He noted that whenever land is degraded, it reduces the soil’s ability to take up carbon and this exacerbates climate change. “In turn, climate change exacerbates land degradation in many different ways,” he said. Today, 500 million people worldwide live in areas that experience desertification, and such people are increasingly negatively affected by climate change. According to research, desertification and changing climate are projected to cause reductions in crop and livestock productivity, modify the composition of plant species and reduce biological diversity across drylands. Rising CO2 levels will favour more rapid expansion of some invasive plant species in some regions. So far, drylands cover about 46.2 percent of global land and are home to 3 billion people. As…
KUMASI, Ghana (PAMACC News) - The European Union Delegation to Ghana has collaborated with the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly to undertake series of events to re-green Ghana, as part of activities marking this year's Climate Diplomacy Week. The Climate Diplomacy Weeks are organized all over the world by EU Delegations to create awareness on the impact of climate change in the world. They are also meant to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change in the context of sustainable development. Last year, the week was dedicated to reducing, reusing and recycling waste. This year, the theme is reforestation, with the slogan #RegreeningGhana. Head of the EU Delegation to Ghana, Diana Acconcia, has urged Ghana to sway from the mistakes of advanced economies which relied on the use of coal and rather adopt innovative and cleaner sources of energy to power its industries. “We have the duty to leave behind a healthier planet, more stable, fairer societies and more prosperous and modern economies for future generations. Climate change is a direct and existential threat. It spares no country and requires a collective response,” she said. A regreening workshop in Kumasi attracted youth organisations, students from local high schools, local professional schools, University students and alumni and other local organisations and youth groups. It afforded them the opportunity to engage in a frank but constructive exchange with politicians, businesses and other stakeholders to express their concerns and requests for climate action. The purpose of the workshop was to give examples of green initiatives that contribute to make societies more resilient and green. In line with this, 30 trees were planted along the Kumasi Cultural Centre, while selected school children planted trees at the Asokwa and Kumasi Municipalities.The Chief Executive of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), Osei Assibey Antwi, said the partnership and knowledge sharing offered by the EU Delegation to restore the forest cover will strengthen the campaign to grow more trees. To mark the EU Climate Diplomacy Week, 240 trees are being planted in Ghana. The EU has been at the forefront of international efforts to fight climate change. “Under the Paris Agreement, the EU has committed to a cut of at least 40% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990,” said Diana Acconcia.
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