Climate Change (205)

Climate change made extreme rainfall heavier and more likely to happen during several back-to-back storms earlier this year in Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique, according to rapid attribution analysis by an international team of leading climate scientists.

While the analysis shows that climate change made the eventsworse, the scientists were not able to quantify exactly how much climate change influenced the event due to a shortage of high quality weather observations available for this part of Africa.

In early 2022, Southeast Africa was hit by three tropical cyclones and two tropical storms in just six weeks.

Tropical Storm Ana, in late January, was followed by Tropical Cyclone Batsirai, which made landfall in Madagascar on 5 February. Over the next few weeks, the region was hit by Tropical Storm Dumako and Tropical Cyclones Emnati and Gombe.

The consecutive storms left people with little time to react. Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique were the worst-hit countries, with more than a million people affected by extreme rainfall and floods, and 230 reported deaths.

To evaluate the role of climate change on the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall during the storms, the scientists analysed weather observations and computer simulations to compare the climate as it is today, after about 1.2°C of global warming since the late 1800s, with the climate of the past, following peer-reviewed methods.

The analysis focused on rainfall, which caused widespread flooding, over the wettest three-day periods in two regions: Madagascar, where cyclone Batsirai caused major damage, and an area over Malawi and Mozambique most affected by Tropical Storm Ana.

In both cases, the results show that rainfall associated with the storms was made more intense by climate change and that episodes of extreme rainfall such as these have become more frequent.

The finding is consistent with scientific understanding of how climate change, caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, influences heavy rainfall. As the atmosphere becomes warmer it accumulates more water, increasing the risk of downpours. With further greenhouse gas emissions and continued temperature increases such heavy rainfall episodes will become even more common.

While the analysis shows that climate change made the events more intense and damaging, the precise contribution of climate change to the event could not be quantified, due to the absence of comprehensive historical records of rainfall in the region.

Of 23 weather stations in the affected area in Mozambique, only four had relatively complete records going back to 1981. In Madagascar and Malawi there were no weather stations with suitable data for the study.

In many other parts of the world where more comprehensive weather station data is available, scientists have been able to quantify the influence of climate change on particular extreme events. Increased investment in weather stations in Africa would enable a more precise estimate of the impact of rising greenhouse gas concentrations on the continent.

The study was conducted by 22 researchers as part of the World Weather Attribution group, including scientists from universities and meteorological agencies in France, Madagascar, Mozambique, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK and the US

PAMACC News - A new report from West Coast Environmental Law, Net Zero or Net Reckless, warns that technofixes that aim to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere should play only a limited role in Canada’s future climate plans.


The report pushes back against politicians and oil and gas industry leaders who have advocated for large-scale development of industrial “negative emissions technologies” instead of immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. West Coast is concerned that Canada’s Emissions Reduction Plan, released yesterday, proposes for the first time using negative emissions technologies to achieve its 2030 target but fails to clarify how and to what extent these technologies will be used.


“Our review of the scientific literature is clear: the world needs reductions in fossil fuel pollution combined with a realistic - and very limited - use of negative emissions technologies.” said West Coast’s Climate Accountability Strategist, Fiona Koza. “The world needs these technologies to help restore the atmosphere and to capture the emissions from a small number of essential but extremely difficult to decarbonize processes, not as an excuse to delay emissions reductions or to continue oil and gas production and use.”


Direct Air Capture and Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage are two technologies used to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Both have only ever been implemented at a very small scale and have massive resource or land demands that severely limit their use. They are cousins to the better-known Carbon Capture and Storage (CSS), which reduces greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources, rather than removing them from the atmosphere, and which raises some of the same problems.


Canada’s new Emissions Reductions Plan predicts that by 2030, Direct Air Capture in Canada will suck approximately seven hundred thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each year, but it says nothing about its role in the climate plan, who will pay for it, or the massive energy, land and water impacts, and potential impacts on Indigenous Peoples that it brings.


The Net Zero or Net Reckless report finds that, depending on the technology used, how it is powered, and what is done with the captured carbon dioxide, even that modest amount of Direct Air Capture could require tens of millions of Gigajoules of energy and millions of tonnes of water, and could even increase greenhouse gas emissions.


“Done right, a small amount of negative emissions technologies can be part of the solution,” said Koza. “But done badly they are a subsidy to the fossil fuel industry that can make climate change worse.”


West Coast Environmental Law will be monitoring implementation of Canada’s new Emissions Reduction Plan to see if technological solutions are limited to the role that science demands.



BELETWEYNE, Somali (PAMACC News) - On the outskirts of Beletweyne town in southern Somalia, Maryam Muse Duale breaks up small sticks in her hands, stoking a fire in the dirt to keep her young children warm at night. Maryam has made a flimsy shelter of sticks and cloth; it doesn’t keep the cold night air out. Her children sit on a mat, waiting for food from humanitarian agencies. When it comes, she shares among the children first. Parents eat whatever is left.


Like many other rural Somalis, Maryam is facing a new reality; it is a far cry from her life as an agro-pastoralist just a few months before. The drought in Somalia, which began in late 2020, has only been spreading and deepening.


Not so long ago, Maryam’s family used to raise goats, collect firewood and do some rain-fed farming to support themselves. But after three failed rainy seasons, the land has dried up, her goats are dead, and her family has been left destitute.


“Before the drought, we had a cart and a donkey, and we used to harvest wood. We had no camels, but we did have goats. Now that is all gone,” she said. With no options left, her family made the tough choice to leave their home and head to the town of Beletweyne in search of help.


“We came to the town here in search of life.”

Maryam’s family has also had to separate as a survival mechanism. The women have taken the children to town for help, while the men search for odd jobs and stay in their village to protect what’s left of their belongings. They don’t know when they will be reunited.


In the Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp where Maryam and her children have found temporary shelter, everything must be provided for them – food, water, medicine. Living amongst strangers and away from the protection of their relatives, displaced women and children are also at a higher risk of gender-based violence and physical harm, not to mention disease outbreak. The decision to flee from home comes with a heavy economic and psycho-social toll.


“There is a big difference between our past and our present because in our past, we were living in our homes, and if we needed anything, we had a place to go,” said Maryam.


She is now entirely dependent on the goodwill of others for her survival and that of her family’s.


Like Maryam, some 667 000 people have already been displaced by the drought, and this number is predicted to rise exponentially in the second quarter of 2022, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).


With other agencies providing support to those in IDP camps, FAO is in the drought affected areas, providing cash transfers, livelihood assets and other support to people in their villages, giving them the option to stay and helping to decrease the massive displacement and pressure on already crowded IDP camps.


With funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID), FAO’s Cash+ project provides families with emergency cash transfers and livelihood assistance. Seeds, tools and veterinary care for animals help families to continue their work, while emergency cash assistance helps them cover other basic needs such as food, water and medicine, reducing the need to move away for services and support.


“I’m a farmer, and I will still work here”


Meanwhile, local pastoralist Ali Mohamed Wasuge has decided to stay in his village of Sariirale in central Somalia near the border of Ethiopia, though he says he has never seen the land this dry before. The earth, the trees, the bushes - all different variations of brown.


“The fields are dry and without water everything we planted last season has been wiped out by the drought. Our livestock are starving,” he said.


With nothing to eat, Ali’s weakened animals cannot fight off simple colds and infections and are now dying en-masse. He is watching his livelihood disappear before his eyes.


Despite the challenges, Ali has chosen to stay in his home with his family.


“I have seven children and live here with my wife. I’m a farmer, and I will still work here,” he said.


He knows the risks involved in abandoning their farm and livelihoods, but leaving is something he thinks about every day.


FAO is working to give people options. Ali’s family, along with 1 874 other families in the district, have received cash transfers and livelihood assistance through FAO’s Cash+ project. Ali has so far received USD 180 of direct cash assistance, as well as seeds and tools for planting before the next rainy season.


While only a small amount, this has enabled Ali to pay off debts and keep his family together, and the seeds will help his family bounce back faster after the drought.


Keeping families together


“What we are seeing are rural households facing destitution,” said FAO Representative, Etienne Peterschmitt. “They have exhausted their coping mechanisms and are moving to urban areas in search of assistance. This is what FAO is seeking to prevent,” he said.


FAO’s drought response plan calls for USD 80.4 million to reach 634 800 people in 52 districts. Cash transfers and livelihood assistance helps protect rural livelihoods and prevent a larger humanitarian crisis.  


Investments in livelihoods is much more efficient in the long run. For every USD 1 spent on supporting livelihoods for rural families through FAO’s programmes, USD 10 can be saved in food related assistance for a displaced family in an urban centre. And while it costs USD 40 to buy a new goat, saving a rural family’s goat from drought-related diseases costs as little as forty cents.


While the drought conditions continue to get worse, FAO is working hard to scale up its assistance to rural communities and also help farmers implement practices to be more resilient to droughts, extreme weather and climate change related impacts in the future.


The full story and photos can be found here:


GENEVA, Switzerland (PAMACC News) - Within the next five years, everyone on Earth should be protected by early warning systems against increasingly extreme weather and climate change, according to an ambitious new United Nations target announced today.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has tasked the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to lead the effort and present an action plan to achieve this goal at the next UN climate conference in Egypt this November.

The announcement was made on World Meteorological Day on 23 March, which this year has the theme Early Warning and Early Action.

“Human-caused climate disruption is now damaging every region. The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change details the suffering already happening. Each increment of global heating will further increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events,” said Mr Guterres.


“We must invest equally in adaptation and resilience. That includes the information that allows us to anticipate storms, heatwaves, floods and droughts,” said the UN chief.


However, one-third of the world’s people, mainly in least developed countries and small island developing states, are still not covered by early warning systems.  In Africa, it is even worse: 60 per cent of people lack coverage.


“This is unacceptable, particularly with climate impacts sure to get even worse,” said Mr Guterres.


“Early warnings and action save lives. To that end, today I announce the United Nations will spearhead new action to ensure every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years.  I have asked the World Meteorological Organization to lead this effort and to present an action plan at the next UN climate conference, later this year in Egypt,” Mr Guterres said in a video message to the World Meteorological Day ceremony.

“We must boost the power of prediction for everyone and build their capacity to act. On this World Meteorological Day, let us recognize the value of early warnings and early action as critical tools to reduce disaster risk and support climate adaptation.” 

Climate change is already very visible through more extreme weather in all parts of the world. We are seeing more intense heatwaves and drought and forest fires. There is more water vapor in the atmosphere, which leads to extreme rainfall and deadly flooding. The warming of the ocean fuels more powerful tropical storms and rising sea levels increase the impacts.

Over the past 50 years (1970-2019), a weather, climate or water-related disaster has occurred on average every day – taking the lives 115 people and causing US$ 202 million in losses daily, according to a 2021 WMO report on disaster statistics.

The number of recorded disasters increased by a factor of five over that 50-year period, driven by human-induced climate change, more extreme weather events and improved reporting.

But thanks to improved early warnings and disaster management, the number of lives lost decreased almost three-fold over the same period thanks to better weather forecasts and proactive and coordinated disaster management.

“The growing number of disasters due to climate change is endangering implementation of a large number of Sustainable Development Goals. Besides very critical mitigation it is growingly important to invest in climate adaptation. One of the highest returns of investments is reached by improving the weather, water and climate early warning services and related observing infrastructures. There is a need to invest 1.5 B USD during the coming five years to improve the quality of the services and related infrastructures especially in the LDC and SIDS countries,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.


What is an Early Warning System?

An Early Warning System for floods, droughts, heatwaves or storms, is an integrated system which allows people to know that hazardous weather is on its way, and informs how governments, communities and individuals can act to minimize the impending impacts. 

These systems allow us to monitor the real time atmospheric conditions on land and at sea and to effectively predict future weather and climate events using advanced computer numerical models. The aim is to understand what risks the foreseeable storms could bring to an area that will be affected – which may differ if it is a city or rural area, polar, coastal or mountainous regions. Early warning systems must include agreed response plans for governments, communities and people, to minimize anticipated impacts. A comprehensive early warning system must also include lessons learned from past events, in order to continually improve responses ahead of future weather, climate, water and related environmental hazards.


Early Warnings Work:

The 2019 Global Commission on Adaptation flagship report ‘Adapt Now’ found that Early Warning Systems provide more than a tenfold return on investment – the greatest of any adaptation measure included in the report.

The report also found that just 24 hours warning of a coming storm or heatwave can cut the ensuing damage by 30 per cent and spending US$ 800 million on such systems in developing countries would avoid losses of $3-16 billion per year.

And yet, despite these known great benefits, one in three people globally is still not covered by early warning services, and the proportion of people not covered is almost twice as high in Africa. Vulnerable people are disproportionately affected.

The Glasgow Climate Pact (agreed at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in November 2021) emphasizes the urgency of scaling up action to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change. It also urges developed countries to urgently and significantly scale up their provision of climate finance, technology transfer and capacity-building for adaptation.

The UK government, which was president of COP26, and the Egyptian government, which will preside over COP27 in Sharm-El-Sheikh, recently renewed calls on developed countries to follow through on their commitment to at least double their climate finance for adaptation to developing countries by 2025, aiming at achieving balance between funding adaptation and mitigation.

Ambassadors of both the UK and Egypt are due to speak at the World Meteorological Day ceremony, which included high level panels of speakers illustrating the need for, and success of, early warnings and early action.



Synergies and partnerships:

WMO will spearhead the effort to achieve universal coverage of early warning services, in close collaboration with key partners as a collective contribution towards global adaptation efforts.

It will seek to close observation gaps, to expand the capacity for all countries to issue warnings ahead of a disaster, and simultaneously improve their capacity to act on those warnings, and to respond in a manner that is people-centred, inclusive and accessible.

Following on from Mr Guterres’ announcement, WMO will convene key agencies, countries and groups already active in the field of Hydromet and Risk Informed Early Warning capacity development to build on the excellent existing efforts and create a global plan by COP27. Closing the early warning gap will require inputs from actors throughout the entire early warning to early action value chain.

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