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Climate change fight could cost Africa $17b yearly – World Bank

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As the debate over climate change heats up and countries of the world look for ways to fight the menace, it is estimated that Africa could lose $17 billion annually in the continent’s efforts to respond to the challenges posed by climate change.

And Ghana’s energy and water sectors are expected to decline by 3% to 6% due to the risks of climate change on the country’s agriculture sector.

According to the World Bank’s new country studies undertaken in partnership with the developing countries including Ghana, the country is vulnerable to some effects of climate change such as ‘cyclical droughts and floods’ since the country depends on agriculture.

Due to this effect, the World Bank says Ghana could see lower gross domestic product (GDP) in the range of 2% to 7% by 2050.

“Ghana could see 2-7 percent lower GDP by 2050 with its water and energy sectors expected to decline by 3-6 percent”, said the World Bank in a press release issued June 7, 2011.

Some African countries could also suffer drops in their GDP, the World Bank indicates if adaptation to climate change is not tackled.

“Ethiopia’s GDP could be 2-8 percent lower than expected if it does not invest in adaptation…in Mozambique, climate change is likely to result in GDP losses of 4-14 percent relative to its expected growth by 2050”, the Bank said.

To adapt to climate change in the sub-Saharan Africa, the World Bank says it could cost about $17 billion a year adding it would be be Higher if action is not taken now.

The press release cited the World Bank’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, Andrew Steer, speaking on the sidelines of the latest meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn,  as saying 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,” Steer said.

He said, “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 release cited a World Bank global study in 2009 which says that estimated adaption costs to developing countries will be in the region of $75-$100 billion by 2050.

Andrew Steer said climate change jeopardizes Africa’s hard-won development gains and the continent needs 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.

He added, “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.”

Adding her comments, 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.”

Despite these vulnerabilities, the studies show that there are opportunities for countries to make their development climate-resilient, the Bank says.

According to the Bank, it is partnering with the African Development Bank to mobilize dedicated resources for climate action through the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), with investment plans being developed in 11 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.


By Ekow Quandzie

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