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Africa faces an uphill battle against western emissions to combat climate change

Africa faces an uphill battle against western emissions to combat climate change

The UN climate summit COP26, held in November 2021, focused the world’s attention on the urgent need to tackle climate change and concluded with 197 countries agreeing to the Glasgow climate pact. But opinions on the summit’s success are polarised.

We owe a profound gratitude to the developing nations – including those from Africa – who agreed to the pact. In doing so, they chose not to insist that richer developed nations, whose historical and ongoing greenhouse gas emissions have largely caused the climate crisis, pay reparations to them for the damage they’ve inflicted.

African nations continue to hold the unenviable position of being disproportionately vulnerable to climate change. Although the continent accounts for the smallest share of global greenhouse gas emissions – only 3.8% – it’s already heating faster than the rest of the world.

And if the target of limiting global warming to 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels is missed, Africa could be facing catastrophic temperature increases of up to 3℃ by 2050.

At the same time, the threat to GDP of African nations that are most vulnerable to these changes – meaning the amount of economic activity that stands to be lost if these changes are severe enough – is projected to increase from £660 billion in 2018 to over £1 trillion in 2023. That’s almost half of the continent’s projected GDP.

Given these estimates, Africa’s climate resilience must exceed the global norm. And some steps are being taken to protect the continent against the worst climate consequences through investments from national governments and the private sector. Organisations such as the African Development Bank and the UN Environment Programme are also leading climate change adaptation measures, like working to protect mangroves on over 200 million hectares of land.


The African continent stands to lose the most from climate change - here’s what local governments can do to protect it.
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