Thursday, 8 June 2017

Grey skies for green energy

Extreme weather amid this week's storms in Western Cape in South Africa and the continuing drought in north-east Africa remind us of the realities of climate change. Cape Town hovers between devastating storms one month and worsening water shortages for the rest of the year. Drought has knocked off one per cent of growth from East Africa's economies. Fights over land and water in the Sahel, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire pit farmers against herders in clashes in which thousands of people have died in recent years.

Even before the United States government pulled out of the Paris climate treaty on 2 June, few funds for climate adaptation were reaching Africa.

Africa would benefit from a better coordinated approach on climate and environment policy, perhaps using the research capacity of the Economic Commission for Africa and the convening power of the African Development Bank. Political backing from the African Union would also help. More detailed reporting on the Sahel and the Horn should prompt research into ways to ameliorate or adapt to the environmental devastation. Some pioneering projects for local meteorological centres, assets for international climate research, struggle for funding. There is a direct link between plans for a green energy corridor up the spine of Africa, running on renewables, and tackling climate change. Africa's massive expansion of agricultural production and processing, together with its solar power farms, depend on tackling the threat of climate change.

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