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AU calls for more efforts on climate

By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-14 07:09

UN: Africa may be severely struck by the impacts, worsening poverty

The African Union has urged its member states to reinforce measures to address effects of climate change, environmental degradation and natural disasters, particularly in conflict-affected areas of the continent.

The AU Peace and Security Council noted that natural disasters and climate change contribute to the tensions among communities, threaten access to vital resources and, disproportionately affect the most vulnerable.

This call was made by the AU Peace and Security Council in a statement issued on Monday, following the council's recent session at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.

According to the United Nations, Africa is at the risk of being severely struck by the effects of climate change, due to its limited capacity to adapt, resulting from both its geography and widespread poverty.

By 2020, between 75 million and 250 million people on the continent are projected to face water stress due to climate change. In the same year in some countries yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 percent.

Global warming of 2 C would put more than 50 percent of the continent's population at risk of undernourishment, the UN said. Climate change could lead to an annual loss of from 2 percent to 4 percent in GDP in the continent by 2040.

Assuming international efforts keep global warming below an increase of 2 C, the UN states that the continent could face climate change adaptation costs of $50 billion per year by 2050.

The AU council called on African countries to accelerate the implementation of the international agreements to lessen the effects of climate change.

These agreements include the Paris Agreement, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The AU particularly recommended the establishment of a 24-hour center to provide early warnings of impending natural disasters, with a view to further enhancing preparedness and responses.

Jessica Gimo from Beira, Mozambique, noted at a recent meeting at the UN Environment Programme headquarters in Nairobi that catastrophes would be mitigated with information beforehand.

Gimo was recounting her experience of Cyclone Idai which caused catastrophic damage when it battered parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi in March.

"In my view, the lack of information made the damage worse, because if the information had been passed in time, if they had informed us of the magnitude of the Cyclone, we would have made plans to move to safe cities. I believe that the situation would be different and maybe the damage would be minor," she said.

The AU also emphasized the need for coordinated effort at national, regional and continental level in planning for natural disasters in Africa, in close coordination with the Regional Economic Communities or Regional Mechanisms.

The AU Commission urged a close partnership with such UN agencies as the UN-Habitat, UN Environment Programme, the Africa Risk Capacity (ARC), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) was also highlighted.

African countries should also draw lessons from Asian countries, including scientific and technical approaches to generate early warnings.

edithmutethya@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 08/14/2019 page11)

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