Global Warming: Time for Africa to take Action

A month ago, I travelled to my home village-Kishami Ruhaama, Ntungamo (about 20kms from Mirama Hills Uganda-Rwanda boarder) only to be welcomed by unanticipated symptoms climate change.


The impacts of the sunny season were vindicated by dry banana plantations and coffee shambas.

As a corollary, famine was becoming existent. I felt concerned. And I had to closely start following global warming debates.

The negative effects of global warning in my village paints a grim picture of doom that awaits the entire continent.

Africa has been bedeviled by rising sea levels, severe droughts and flooding, widespread food and water shortages and more destructive storms for the past decades. This is not a good story.

On Saturday 12th December, world leaders in Paris including most African nations reached an agreement aimed at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by about half as an essential way of trimming down an increase in atmospheric temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

As per the accord, nations will be required to reconvene every five years, starting in 2020 with updated plans that would tighten their emissions cuts.

Every five years starting in 2023, nations will publicly report on how/what they are doing in cutting emissions compared to their plans.

Countries will be legally required to monitor and report on their emissions levels and reductions, using a universal accounting system.

African countries argued in favour of an ambitious target limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius instead as per the International Panel on Climate Change instead of 2 degrees Celsius supported by the developed world.

To mitigate and adapt devastating effects of climate change, poorer countries (most Africans) pressed for a legally binding provision requiring that rich countries to appropriate a minimum of at least $100 billion but $100 billion figure appears only in a preamble, not in the legally binding portion of the agreement.

BBC Africa quoting scientists recently reported that “Africa is expected to be one of the continents hardest hit by climate change, with an increase in severe droughts, floods and storms expected to threaten the health of populations and economies alike.”

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Africa is expected to warm up to 1.5 times faster than the global average due its geography and vulnerability.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts startling impacts of climate change on the continent.

For instance, due to unpredictable rains and high temperatures in countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa, output from maize will reduce by 30% before 2050.

And the immediate impact of food shortages is famine. In Mali by 2025, 250,000 children are expected to suffer stunting due to climate change effects.

Climate change will come with variances in rainfall.

The continents annual rainfall is likely to decrease in much of Mediterranean Africa and the northern Sahara, with a greater likelihood of decreasing rainfall as the Mediterranean coast.

Rainfall in southern Africa is likely to decrease in much of the winter rainfall region and western margins.

In retrospect, by 2080, drought is projected to increase by a margin of 5 to 8% in the arid and semi-arid land regions.

The grim consequences of climate change maybe its threat to economic growth due to changes in natural systems and resources as well as the survival of already vulnerable populations.

To mitigate the already unfolding impacts of global warming (droughts, famine, desertification, et cetera), Africa must invent effective land use systems to avoid forest degradation, developing renewable energy, and limiting the expansion of coal-fired power plants.

Shielding Congo basin rainforest, the world’s second largest tropical forest and covering about 700,000 square miles in 6 countries and many more forests on the continent should be a priority.

Morrocco is building the largest solar plant in the world and it will generate enough electricity to power a million homes.

African countries can take a leaf from this project to develop more renewable energy sources.

Blanshe Musinguzi is an undergraduate student at Makerere University.