IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON INEQUALITIES IN AFRICA.
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Impact Of Climate Change On Inequalities In Africa

 

series of serious climatic crises have resulted from the relentless global warming attacks that have plagued Earth and its inhabitants over the past ten years. Human actions, particularly the combustion of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, have been linked to these attacks. As a result, between 2011 and 2020, greenhouse gas emissions reached a record high. 

 

However, the idea of climate change encompasses more than just variations in average yearly temperature and global warming; it also refers to the depletion of the biosphere, which includes flooding, droughts, wildfires, rising sea levels, glaciers, and strong storm surges.

 

Climate change may have further consequences for human health, agriculture, housing, and employment. The effects of climate change are extremely disproportionate throughout the world, and Africa, although emitting the least amount of greenhouse gases, faces the greatest cost from its consequence.

 

SDG 13

Climate concerns are still widely misunderstood in underdeveloped nations, and education to avert them are yet to be implemented. The most significant barriers to climate education are interconnected problems such as poverty, hunger, and unemployment. It is practically inconceivable for a malnourished person who lacks fundamental human necessities to consider supporting climate action.

 

However, SDG 13 lays out a clear plan for addressing climate change and establishes precise benchmarks for actors to meet their commitments, including incorporating climate policies into national strategies and plans; enhancing education; constructing institutional capacity, and enhancing countries’ resilience and capabilities for adaptive response to climate-related issues.

 

Read: Gendered Impacts of Climate Displacement

Progress And Priorities

By adopting new policies that would reduce greenhouse emissions, African nations like Kenya and Nigeria have made tremendous headway in creating national strategies to advance the global climate change agenda. The average person just wants to see their environment preserved and risks to their way of life diminished. This would imply that the government’s climate policy should be people driven backed by real commitments.  

 

There are structures and norms in place to guide this development and encourage implementation through mechanisms that culminate into actions in three major categories: greenhouse gas reduction, climate adaptation, and climate funding.

 

There is also a frantic appeal for governments to commit to net zero emissions by 2050 by lowering global temperatures by 1.5°C. However, adaptation and funding appear to be more important for Africa than reduction, not only because they are the fewer polluters, but also because they are already “paying for the crime they did not commit.”

 

Climate change is having a disproportionate impact on African communities, affecting food security, worsening the conditions of millions of people living in severe poverty, and damaging water supplies important to the health and hygiene of children and women. Many African nations confront considerably more pressing issues than greenhouse gas emissions, ranging from political instability in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea to a weak economy and inflation in Ghana and Ethiopia, an expanding debt profile in Nigeria, and new government policies in Kenya. With these existential difficulties, which are surely aggravated by climate change, climate financing might possibly strengthen the government’s capacity to respond to these crises and create climate resilience.

 

Read: Climate Change and Women: Time to focus on vulnerabilities

 

 

Treaties And Consequences

Climate change appears to be leading to a succession of environmental problems, which is becoming a danger multiplier, adding to numerous inequalities, particularly on the African continent.

 

The primary international agreement expressly addressing climate change is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was adopted in 1992. Preventing harmful human intervention with the climate system is its main goal. Prior to this, the Montreal Treaty, established in 1987, was the first protocol to address climate change. Later, every nation on earth ratified the protocol. The convention mandated that nations cease the production of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Nearly 99% of these ozone-depleting chemicals have been successfully eliminated by the procedure. Despite its effectiveness, the protocol did not have climate change as a specific goal. 

 

The first legally binding agreement on climate change was the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in 1997 and came into effect in 2005. This agreement established a method to track countries’ advancement and mandated industrialized nations to cut emissions by an average of 5% compared to 1990 levels. The deal does not, however, oblige emerging nations to take action to combat climate change, including some of the biggest carbon polluters like China and India. In 1998, the United States agreed to it, but it was never ratified, and it later withdrew its signature.

 

 

Impact On Inequalities 

The fact that rural populations in Africa are being negatively impacted by climate change is a global emergency since they rely heavily on favorable climatic circumstances for their survival and well-being. Climate change’s effects include rising temperatures, more frequent floods, and drought. These factors provide a variety of difficulties that disproportionately affect women and girls, extending the gender equality gap.

 

Families have migrated in search of food and water due to the ongoing drought in some communities in Africa because the water pans have dried up and their livestock have no fodder to eat, while other nations like Nigeria are experiencing flood crises that have killed people and uprooted hundreds of thousands of families. Children’s education is currently being disrupted, and in other locations, women and girls are forced to walk great distances in search of safety or water, exposing them to gender-based violence.

 

Read: Women’s Access to Reproductive Rights and Climate Change

 

In pastoralist communities, without fodder for cattle, households have no source of income and must rely on the government to supply relief food for survival. Because relief food is unlikely to arrive, the majority of girls in such homes are likely to be coerced into underage marriage in order for their families to escape the cost of feeding an extra mouth. Other families will compel their children to engage in transactional sex in order to earn a living, exposing them to adolescent pregnancies and STIs.

 

When tragedy hits and families are uprooted, access to sexual and reproductive health care becomes difficult and inadequate. It is also projected that the displacement would result in more internally displaced people and an increase in gender-based violence as people are compelled to put their lives in danger in order to meet basic human necessities.

 

According to research, rising heat from global warming has a negative impact on maternal and newborn health. There is evidence that temperature extremes have a negative influence on birth outcomes, implying that high temperatures increase the likelihood of stillbirth.

 

Read: Impact Of Climate Change On Women’s Mental Health

Climate change clearly has a multiplier effect on all people, particularly women and girls. As a result, climate activities must emphasize how investment in many areas such as education, health, and economic empowerment may increase adaptation to climate change.

 

The grave repercussions of climate change cannot be stopped by the Kyoto Protocol or the Paris Agreement alone. In order to protect the earth from these catastrophic repercussions of climate change, national and international leaders and governments must assume responsibility and accept accountability by establishing emission reduction objectives. Governments must continue to use a multi-sectoral strategy when addressing climate change – maintaining coherence in the formulation and execution of policies would be accomplished through the creation of policy committees.

 

 

Progress And Projection Of Policy Addressing Climate Change Inequalities In Africa 

The Paris Climate Agreement (2015), which mandates pledges from governments and also establishes a precedent for promoting gender-responsive methods in various adaptation measures, sets the route for addressing global climate change. Nearly all African nations have committed to increasing climate action by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and bolstering resilience after ratifying their NDCs and joining the Paris Agreement.

 

Diverse development and adaptation plans have also been put into practice, with predetermined guidelines and goals for constructing resilient capabilities for mitigation and adaptation. The Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP), which has interconnected pillars for aggregation mechanisms in projects and programs on climate-smart digital technologies, infrastructures, and job development in climate adaptation, is at the center of expanding climate adaptation activity.

 

Similar to this, the most current African Union Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022–2032) outlined the fundamentals and top goals for mitigating the effects of climate change and promoting the development of a low-emission future for the continent. It acknowledges the disparities and obstacles faced by disadvantaged populations and supports strategies for mitigating climate change’s effects. There is little doubt that policies and activities in Africa either follow top-down methods derived from intergovernmental norms and procedures or follow bottom-up approaches derived from national laws, climate legislation, and public participation. The route ahead must completely integrate the parallel, mutually reinforcing efforts of both strategies.

 

 

Challenges, Accountability, And Leadership 

Climate change and its repercussions continue to emphasize how much farther several African nations are from achieving the Paris Agreement targets, implementing NDC plans, and achieving climate resilience. Climate change’s physical threats have mostly emerged as humanitarian consequences. From socio-economic susceptibility to poverty, food insecurity and commodity price spikes, relocation, loss of livelihood, and expanding gender disparities in many situations, one consequence fosters many. Climate change is hurting the global security and development situation.


 

While the Paris Agreement and other policy frameworks have continued to lay out a global objective plan for adaptation with the purpose of contributing to climate resilience, mitigation development, and equality, current implementation efforts have been disappointing. Over time, the policy and project framework landscape has centered on these themes: “Lofty Plan!”, “Good Blueprint!”, “Transformative Vision!”, “Catch-up Year!”, “Massive Budgetary!”, and “Financing Allotment!”. Evaluating the positive effects of excellent practices and strong policies remains a challenge. The possible shortcomings of progress indicators through diligent monitoring and assessment are a major difficulty in measuring the impact of climate frameworks. Before following the headwinds and tailwinds of an existing policy, a new framework has emerged, diverting focus and pushing for new significant consolidated initiatives. However, Northern and Southern Africa have the highest ACCPPI, while the rest of Africa’s performance remains in the low scale range, according to the African Climate Change Adaptation Performance Index (ACCAPI), which was established to monitor and assess climate change policy performance in Africa. Morocco, Cape Verde, Angola, Ghana, and Senegal are among the top performers. Enhancing investment in renewable energy, climate policy, and corruption reduction was critical for low-performing areas while
reducing greenhouse gas emissions remained a goal for Africa’s high-performing regions.

 

  

Road To Cop27; Expectations And Commitments 

The United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) has long been seen as a pivotal global event in terms of climate governance, accountability, and leadership. It provides abundant opportunities to reflect on unfulfilled climate promises and persistent barriers to attaining a climate strategy.

 

Reflecting on the history of the Conference of Practice (COP) commitment and lingering pledges is important as we continue to COP 27, emphasizing pre-existing and new commitments for meaningful and sustainable solutions to increase adaptative and resilience components. With COP 26 highlighting the path of cross-sector commitments towards net zero, expectations were high for a net zero action plan and commitment. Despite this, the climate obligations made at COP 26 remain unfulfilled, with a $100 billion funding deficit.

 

Ironically, Africa has contributed the least to the climate catastrophe while suffering the most severe consequences. Multilateral organizing principles addressing cross-scale dynamics connected with climate change bridge the gap allowing African nations to focus on coordinated specific needs-driven efforts and contributing activities.

 

The COP agenda’s ‘’business as usual” of pledges and commitments is insufficient to reduce the risks and effects of climate change. We need to witness advancements in the areas of mitigation, adaptation, and financing. As well as success and failure indicators in policy, action, and framework, in the run-up to COP27. Priorities in the run-up to COP27 include emission reductions, adapting to the impacts of climate change through the green economy, and doubling climate finance, with a focus on finance for adaptation. Climate change starkly illustrates how far countries are from the level of ambition needed to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. To make progress, we must be aware of where we are in the process. To track progress or lack thereof, a global accounting system is required in which all countries follow the same norms for measuring and reporting.

 

As we prepare for COP27, evaluating unfulfilled pledges, objectives, promises, and financial plans from past COPs is critical in determining what has to be doubled down on and accomplished sooner. The overall course of action has been determined. How do we see these transition pledges and strategies playing out in the coming months? What distinction should be made between short-term and long-term goals? How can we ensure that the Paris Agreement re-ties the knot of progress and strides in climate mitigation? How will multilateralism serve Africa and the rest of the world in the next COP 27? COP27 must demonstrate that it is more than simply a number in the history of COPs and commitments. The transformation from pledges to action will need African leaders to cut through the clutter and express it with strategic readiness. In order to reach the aim of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, it is necessary to increase pledges to the Paris Agreement, the Glasgow Climate Pact, the Climate Finance Bill, multilateralism specifying essential parts, and assistance for Africa, the world’s most vulnerable zone.

 

Read: Feminist Lens On the Impact Of The African Continental Free Trade Agreement On Women

 

 

Recommendations 

  1. The national climate action agenda’s mitigation methods must take into account the realities of rural women, girls, and vulnerable populations.
  2. To encourage more understanding and education about climate change among people in many African nations, we must first make the notion simpler.
  3. Committees must be formed in the different regional economic blocs to monitor processes and coordinate regional activities. The RECs must have monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure that policies are fully implemented, as well as evidence production on which methods work to mitigate climate change.
  4. Encourage youth creativity by increasing their skill sets to embrace climate action and provide sustainable solutions to their communities.
  5. Implement climate measures that provide nations with socioeconomic priorities and solutions. 
  6. To slow down climate change, communities need to adopt new Social and Behavioral patterns. 
 

Authors

  • Emediong Akpabio

    Emediong Akpabio is a human rights and gender activist working at the intersection of policy, child protection, and social justice.

  • Asenath Mwithigah

    Asenath is a seasoned leader within the international development field who is committed to the advancement of human rights through creating transformational change in various development sectors.

  • Taofeekat Adigun

    Taofeekat Adigun is a public health and development specialist working at the intersection of policy, planning, advocacy, and research on health, decent work, sexual reproductive health & rights (SRHR), gender equality, and climate.

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