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Strengthening Africa’s Climate Resiliency

Summary:
By 2020, Africa will spend -15 billion annually to adapt to climate change, and the price tag could hit billion by 2050. Fortunately, proactive policies and investments in sustainable development could unleash a wave of economic opportunity, which in turn could make adaptation more manageable. CAPE TOWN – The fight against climate change could be reshaped in the final month of the year, with the just-completed G20 summit in Argentina followed this week and next by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland. But will leaders be bold enough to push for bold policies to keep global temperature rise “well below” 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the target set by the 2015 Paris

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By 2020, Africa will spend $7-15 billion annually to adapt to climate change, and the price tag could hit $50 billion by 2050. Fortunately, proactive policies and investments in sustainable development could unleash a wave of economic opportunity, which in turn could make adaptation more manageable.

CAPE TOWN – The fight against climate change could be reshaped in the final month of the year, with the just-completed G20 summit in Argentina followed this week and next by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland. But will leaders be bold enough to push for bold policies to keep global temperature rise “well below” 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the target set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement, or will they respond with a collective shrug?

Whatever the answer, the ramifications will be felt most acutely in Africa. That means Africans must be prepared for either outcome.

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a comprehensive report demonstrating that anthropogenic activity has warmed the planet by 1°C since the pre-industrial era, and that every additional fraction of a degree will impose high costs. For example, by 2020, Africa will spend $7-15 billion annually to adapt to climate change, and even if warming is held below the 2°C threshold, the price tag could hit $50 billion by 2050. Countries of the Sahel could also suffer GDP declines of up to 6% in the coming decades as a result of climate-related water stress.

In other words, the world must reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions, and Africa must adapt to the climate disruptions already unfolding. Fortunately, proactive policies and investments in sustainable development could unleash a wave of economic opportunity, which in turn could make adaptation more manageable.

A report released in August by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, of which I am a member, found that if the world moved toward a low-carbon economy – for example, by phasing out fossil-fuel subsidies, halting deforestation, and putting more electric vehicles on the road – $26 trillion could be added to the global economy by 2030. Ambitious climate action could also create more than 65 million new low-carbon jobs, prevent 700,000 deaths from air pollution every year, and lead to higher workforce participation by women.

With more than 450 million workers poised to enter the labor market by 2035, most African economies will need to innovate to stay strong;...

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