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Climate crisis will have huge impact on Africa’s economies, study says

As Cop27 discusses climate finance, report says continent’s GDP growth could fall by two-thirds this century

African countries, which are the least responsible for the global climate crisis, face seeing their GDP growth rate fall by up to 64% by the end of the century, according to research – even if the world succeeds in limiting global heating to 1.5C.

As world leaders hustle over climate action at the UN summit in Egypt, a study commissioned by Christian Aid has found that burning fossil fuels at the current rate will have a huge impact on the finances of African countries. The average hit to GDP per capita could be as much as 34%, finds the report, while the effect on GDP growth will lead to an average 20% reduction in rates by 2050 and a huge 64% on average by 2100.

The findings underscore the urgent need for tangible progress on climate finance for adaptation and loss and damage – key areas on which developing nations will push richer polluting countries in Sharm el-Sheikh on Wednesday, which is finance day at Cop27.

“Climate finance is not charity, it’s climate justice,” said Nabeel Munir, a Pakistani diplomat and chief negotiator for the G77 developing countries at Cop27.

The 54 countries of Africa account for 15% of the world’s population but contribute less than 4% of the CO2 heating the planet, in contrast to 27% from China, 15% from the US and 17% from the EU. But it is the continent most affected by catastrophic climatic changes such as rising sea level and melting glaciers, as well as increasingly erratic and destructive extreme weather events such as drought, wildfires, floods and heatwaves.

The study analysed the estimated GDP growth for 50 African countries if there was no global heating, compared with the best and worst case scenarios of 1.5C and 2.4C by 2100.

Under current climate policies, the GDP growth of eight countries – Sudan, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, and Nigeria – could be reduced by as much as 75%. The worst hit nations generate less than 0.43 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per person, in contrast to the US and Canada generating 14 and Saudi Arabia 18 tonnes per person.

Sudan, where this year heavy rains and flash floods affected more than 250,000 people in 15 out of 18 provinces, economic growth could be hit by a staggering 84% under global current climate policies.

The study did not factor in new climate adaptation measures, so the GDP downslide could be less severe. But nor does it take into account the economic damage caused by extreme weather, so the downslide could be conceivably be even worse.

“This analysis shows the huge drag that climate change will have on the economic development of Africa, and these numbers might be conservative estimates,” said Marina Andrijevic, an economist at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna and a study co-author.

So far this year, more than 200,000 homes have been destroyed by floods and landslides in Nigeria, while 37 million people face starvation after four consecutive droughts in the Horn of Africa. A UN report published last week found that international adaptation finance is five to 10 times below what developing countries actually need, and the gap is widening every year.

Mohamed Adow, the director of the climate thinktank Power Shift Africa, said the shocking economic forecasts should be a wake-up call. “The fact that African countries will suffer painful economic harm, even if we limit global heating to 1.5C, shows the need for a loss and damage fund to help those on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

“These countries have contributed the least to cause the problem, and yet they face such grave economic consequences created by others. That is why climate change is a matter of injustice.”

Source: The Guardian

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