Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The cost of climate change in Africa

The costs were always going to be larger than many predicted. Given these figures will never be paid the only point of this article is to get an idea of how bad things are going to get.

Africa Says Poor Need Billions To Fight Climate Fight [PlanetArk]

OSLO - Developing nations will need at least $267 billion a year by 2020 to fight climate change and adapt to droughts, heat waves and rising seas, according to African nations.

The figure, part of a new African text for negotiations on a U.N. climate treaty, is more than double current development aid from recession-hit rich nations which totaled a record $120 billion in 2008.

"Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change, with major development and poverty eradication challenges and limited capacity for adaptation," according to the text submitted to the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.

It set a 2020 goal of $200 billion in investments to help all developing nations curb their rising greenhouse gas emissions -- for instance via energy efficiency or shifting from use of coal or oil toward renewable wind or solar power.

The African Group, comprising more than 50 nations, said those flows totaled about 0.5 percent of the gross domestic product of developed nations. Cash needed to help developing nations adapt to climate change, such as building stronger defenses against rising sea levels or developing drought-resistant crops, needs to be at least $67 billion a year by 2020.

The numbers are above levels of aid discussed by rich nations to curb greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels.

A report by the European Commission in January said the worldwide costs of fighting climate change would be around 175 billion euros ($227.1 billion) a year by 2020.

"It shows the scale of what's needed," Kathrin Gutmann, head of policy of the WWF environmental group's global climate initiative, said of the African text. "We're not talking about tens of billions of dollars -- it's far more."


"There's a very strange chicken and egg situation," Gutmann said. Rich nations want the poor to lay out their plans for fighting climate change before promising cash. The poor want funds pledged first before deciding what is achievable.

The next U.N. climate talks, part of a series meant to end in Copenhagen in December with a new pact to succeed the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, are set for June 1-12 in Bonn, Germany.

The African group also said developed nations should cut emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80-95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The numbers are beyond goals by almost all developed countries.

"At lower stabilization levels, the additional climate impacts are unacceptable to Africa," it said.

The U.N. Climate Panel projects that up to 250 million people in Africa could face greater stress on water supplies by 2020 and that yields from rain-fed agriculture could fall by up to 50 percent by 2020 in some African nations.