The continent is in a difficult position. For other countries to develop, they needed energy. They got this energy by burning fossil fuels. Firstly, coal and moving on to oil and gas, damaging the environment and pushing the world close to the point of no return with regards to global warming. Now, this agreement seeks to reduce the amount of carbon pumped into the atmosphere at a time where Africa needs more and more energy in order to satisfy demand. This demand is still not even close to being satisfied, with regular power cuts still effecting industry and individuals. And yet, experts are putting increasing pressure on Africa to change its climate change strategy, to not add to the troubles the “developed” world has caused while developing.
A recent article from the BBC outlined one crisis that Africa is already facing due to climate change. Lake Tanganyika, which is a huge provider of fish for neighbouring countries has seen marked reduction in fish numbers in recent years. The lake is “provides up to 60% of the animal protein consumed in the region and is also an important biodiversity hotspot” suggests the BBC article. It was initially thought that this was due to over fishing, but in now, experts believe that climate change is playing a big role in the lakes decline. This not only impacts availability on availability of food and nutrients, this effect jobs and livelihoods of a huge amount of people. Global warming, if it continues and if the Paris Agreement does not change things, will impact many people (and animals) in many ways.
Currently, parts of southern Africa are facing the worst drought they have seen in 35 years, which is set to peak in January 2017, according to special envoy on El Niño and climate change Macharia Kamau. Now, the reasons for this drought are El Nino, that reared its ugly head and has caused potential catastrophes around the world, but volatile and adverse weather will continue to effect Africa even more so than the rest of the world. Droughts may be common place, and cities have not been designed to handle huge amounts of rain, which will inevitably fall in some parts of the continent. As the ocean rises, the cities along the coast of Africa will face challenges keeping their land from disappearing beneath the water.
Of course, some will be effected more by climate change in Africa. The inequality between the wealthy and the poor leaves the poor vulnerable to any environmental changes. Subsistence farmers will find it harder and harder to feed themselves, and children could be forced into giving up their education due to reduced agricultural productivity.
So how does Africa develop without adding to climate change? The answer lays in renewable energies, which are still not developed enough to power the entire continent. Storage capabilities are not able to cope with peak time power usage or the lack of sun at night, although innovation is happening fast in this sector. There has also been some development in the synthetic fuel sector, which could see carbon neutral fuels fuelling our cars and running industry (That is a topic for another blog!).
For renewables to be the answer, massive investment will be needed over the next couple of years. Policy will need to be changed to motivate industry to innovate and find new solutions that will stop the need for fossil fuels usage.
Have you experienced the climate change crisis first hand? Do you know of any innovative solutions to reduce fossil carbon being pumped into the atmosphere? Please get in contact with us on Twitter @InventiveAfrica and please also share the blog on Twitter andFacebook.