Adapting to Climate Change In Sub-Saharan Africa to Cost 17 Billion Per Year – And Will Be Higher If We Don’t Act Now!

June 7, 2011

Durban UN climate meeting must prioritize African Agenda say top World Bank officials

 Bonn, June 7, 2011 --- Sub-Saharan Africa is facing a development challenge caused by climate change which could cost it $17 billion a year, the World Bank’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, Andrew Steer, said today.
Speaking on the sidelines of the latest meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Steer warned that the figure was a conservative estimate of likely adaptation costs because it is based on the assumption of rapid action to address climate change, ensuring that average global temperature increases stay below 2-degrees centigrade.
“At present we are sadly not on track to limit global temperature increase to 2 degrees. Without more urgent action, the costs to Africa for adapting to more floods, droughts, heat, rising sea level, and shifting disease patterns would be sharply higher,” he said.
Releasing a series of World Bank country studies on the economics of adaption to climate change, Steer said climate change jeopardizes Africa’s hard-won development gains.   “We need to use the next UN climate conference in Durban to make Africa’s agenda much more central to the UNFCCC process.”
“So far, Africa has been receiving less than 2% of all Clean Development Mechanism money – that’s not right,” Steer said   “In addition to moving forward the Cancun agreements, issues central to Africa concerns like energy access, agriculture and carbon market reform should be firmly on the agenda for Durban.”
Speaking from Washington, Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region said, "Climate shocks are already a major threat to some of the most vulnerable Africans.  The Durban COP meeting needs to devote energies to outlining the urgent concrete solutions needed for climate adaptation and mitigation across the continent, including addressing Africa's $17 billion-a-year challenge."
She added, “In addressing the threat of climate change, not only can Africa leapfrog older technologies; it can do so while also addressing the job creation challenge and accelerating development.”
The new World Bank country studies – undertaken in partnership with the developing countries themselves – are designed to help decision-makers assess their climate change risks and design appropriate adaptation strategies.
Ethiopia, Ghana and Mozambique – the three African countries studied – have similar vulnerabilities. All of them are dependent on agriculture and affected by cyclical droughts and floods.  According to the studies:

  • Ethiopia’s GDP could be 2-8 percent lower than expected if it does not invest in adaptation;
  • Ghana could see 2-7 percent lower GDP by 2050 with its water and energy sectors expected to decline by 3-6 percent;
  • In Mozambique, climate change is likely to result in GDP losses of 4-14 percent relative to its expected growth by 2050

Despite these vulnerabilities, the studies show there are opportunities for the three countries to make their development climate-resilient.
“These countries are building infrastructure that needs to serve the next generation through unprecedented climate situations,” Steer said. “Now is the time for African countries to invest in better building codes, all-weather roads, early-warning systems, and efficient irrigation.”
The studies analyzed impacts and adaptation strategies for agriculture, forestry, fisheries, infrastructure, and water resources.  Building on a World Bank 2009 global study (funded by the UK, Netherlands and Switzerland) that estimated adaption costs to developing countries in the order of US75-100 billion per year by 2050, they compared a future world without climate change to a future world with climate change. The difference between the two entails a series of actions that add up to the cost of adapting to climate change.  
Across Africa, the World Bank Group is engaged in strategic policy dialogues with several countries to integrate climate change into their development plans. Already, 13 country assistance strategies, including those of Nigeria, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Cameroon, have climate change as a component.
In partnership with the African Development Bank, the World Bank is mobilizing dedicated resources for climate action through the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), with investment plans being developed in 11 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In support of adaptation efforts, selected pilot countries (Mozambique, Zambia and Niger) are each receiving US$40-60 million in grant funding to enhance their climate resilience. Meanwhile programs are underway to scale-up access to renewable energy in Ethiopia, Kenya and Mali and to support sustainable forest management projects in DRC and Burkina Faso.


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