Africa 'will be worst hit by climate change'

A A A

The devastating impact of climate change, mainly caused by ballooning carbon emissions from rich Western nations, will hit hardest in Africa, a United Nations report has warned.

Large African cities will be submerged under rising sea levels, more than 40 per cent of wildlife habitats could disappear, and cereal crop yields - already desperately low in a continent unable to feed itself - could fall by a further 5 per cent.

The report warned that the effect of climate change in Africa is "even more acute" than experts had feared. Up to 70 million people could be at risk from rising sea levels, while droughts, which have overwhelmed the Horn of Africa with increasing regularity, will be more common.

The effects of global warming on some of the world's poorest people must be the main focus at the climate change talks that start in Nairobi today, the report's authors said.

More than 6,000 delegates from governments and charities around the world will gather for two weeks to discuss how the world will deal with climate change after the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end in 2012. The protocol, which was supposed to cut the emissions of industrial nations, was only implemented by 35 countries. The US refused to sign up, while China and India, two of the fastest growing economies, are not party to it.

The report gives a stark assessment of what could happen on the continent if developed nations do not rein in their carbon emissions. Up to 30 per cent of Africa's coast could disappear as sea levels rise from between 15cm to 95cm in the next 100 years. Important cities such as Cape Town, Dar es Salaam and Maputo are at risk. If sea levels were to rise by one metre, part of Lagos, the economic centre of Africa's most populous country, Nigeria, would be submerged. Alexandria, a popular tourist destination in Egypt, could also suffer. The number of people at risk in Africa from coastal flooding will rise from one million in 1990 to 70 million by 2080.

Africa is particularly at risk because of its reliance on food from such a large amount of arid land - more than half of the continent's cultivable land is arid or semi-arid. Some 70 per cent of people in Africa and nearly 90 per cent of the poor work in agriculture. When rains fail, or are unpredictable, they are forced to rely on emergency food aid.

Africa, a continent of more than 800 million people, is already feeling the effects of climate change. It has warmed by 0.7C during the 20th century. Rainfall in the Sahel region, just below the Sahara, has fallen by 25 per cent in the last 30 years. Africa's tropical rainforests have also witnessed a fall in precipitation of 2.4 per cent each decade since the mid-1970s.

Droughts in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa have become more regular since the 1960s.

But while climate change is already having a significant impact on the lives of Africans, the climate and weather-monitoring systems needed to track changes on the continent are not in place, and little of Africa's historical climate and weather data is being used to further improve climate forecasting because of a lack of funds.

Marchers join worldwide call for action against global warming

* SIMON GOULD, 58, decorator, Walthamstow, east London

"Us cyclists tend to be a bit more extreme than the other marchers because we've already changed our lifestyles. I organised a ride from Lincoln's Inn Fields to Trafalgar Square today, over 500 turned up, and later with a delegation I delivered a letter to Number 10 demanding a 3 per cent reduction in emissions annually ... the UN needs to say 'you're banned from driving cars today', but we live in an addictive culture, people don't want to change their habits."

* RAGA WOODS, 65, retired, Oxford

"When people get together as they do in something like this, there is a good chance they will take the next step and do something practical. Twenty or thirty years ago nobody would have known what the word environmentalist meant. But my prognosis is very, very gloomy, I don't think the average person has taken on the sinister nature of the whole thing, I think we're disempowered ... we're not really in connection with our earth."

* RASHMI MISTRY, 34, Peckham, south London, campaign manager for Catholic Agency for Overseas Development

"The poor are the most vulnerable to climate change and we've got a responsibility to stop that ... I think this is the start of something bigger, it will start snowballing. Coming here shows the public support this, it gives the politicians a motivation to do more."

* ANDREW KNIGHTS, 26, campaign researcher for Surfers Against Sewage, Cornwall

"More increases in rainfall causes more sewer systems to overflow, polluting rivers and seas ... It's not only surfers that would be affected, this will have a huge impact on many water sports."

* PETER JONES, 41, security guard, Peterborough

"I believe if you make a stand and be counted that is what it is about, everybody doing their bit, we can't sell something if the public won't buy it."

Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reception Manager

£18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...

Recruitment Genius: Designer

£32969 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Data Engineer

£35000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Data Engineer is required to ...

MBDA UK Ltd: Project Manager Facilities

Competitive Salary & Benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: Role Title and Location: Facilitie...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence