Emit Less, Suffer Most from Climate Change!

If the US withdrawal from what seems to be the greatest historic accord on climate change, has been condemned by several statesmen, it is definitely because they recognize the world power’s role in solving international perils and calamities.

President Trump’s withdrawal from the 195-state Paris climate agreement puts Africa at great risks considering the far-reaching impact harmful greenhouse gases have on the continent. Unlike any other area in the world, Africa is going to be the most hit by this US action.

Africa on a global scale accounts for a trivial amount of greenhouse gas emissions (3.8%) yet the continent is most vulnerable to the overwhelming effects of global warming as against 23%, 19% and 13% by China, US, and the European Union, respectively. The irony here is, countries that contribute least to climate change by emitting very insignificant amounts of these harmful gases tend to be more vulnerable to its impacts and vice versa.

Emitted greenhouse gases do not abide by borders, nor do their impacts. The constant increase in temperatures, rising sea levels, changes in rainfall patterns, droughts, and floods, are some of the ways Africa suffer from climate change. The extreme weather events on the continent have begun threatening many African cities, claiming millions of lives across the continent. Here are the African cities that are most susceptible to climate change:

Maroua (Cameroon): Located in the far northern region of Cameroon, Maroua probably would suffer enormously from climate change considering its dry nature. During the dry season, the area experiences extreme temperatures, hot and cold, just enough to cause sunburns and frozen skin in early mornings.

Like other African countries, Cameroon may be impacted more significantly by the effects of climate change with reason being that the country is highly dependent on agriculture which in turn, depends on climate as well as having annual temperatures confined to a small range which makes it difficult for biological systems to easily adapt to changes that modify the range.

Lagos (Nigeria): Africa’s most populous city is home to some 21 million inhabitants most of whom live on waterside slums with no proper drainage systems which put their lives at risk in the event of heavy downpours and rising sea levels makes them vulnerable to floods.

Durban/Cape Town (South Africa): Rising sea levels, increasing urbanization, and loss and extinction of important biodiversity, coastal sand movement, underline the dangers of climate change to these tourist destinations. For instance, Cape Town was declared a disaster area in early March after officials noted the area was under severe drought attack. Wildfires are also very common in South Africa as a result of the fast encroachment of drought into some of its cities.

Dar es Salaam (Tanzania): According to the World Bank, Tanzania is the most affected-flood country in East Africa. The country’s coastal and largest city, Dar es Salaam is characterized by a flat topography which makes it vulnerable to floods. News.xinhuanet.com reported that the country experienced heavy downpours in May that wrecked critical infrastructure, rice farms and led to the closure of schools in the area.

Abidjan (Côte D’Ivoire): With its location on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, the country’s commercial capital stands at risk of being flooded in the long run while the city is continuously experiencing high rates of erosion of the Abidjan harbor.

Researchers have found that climate change could make sections of North Africa so warm as to become uninhabitable in the future. Major North African coastal cities like Alexandria, Casablanca, Tripoli and Tunis are all vulnerable to long-term impacts of climate change.

Pulling out from the 195-nation Paris club deal, Trump claims honoring the terms of the deal would cost the US billions of dollars for a minute reduction in global warming, by producing a mere 0.2 C reduction in global temperatures by the year 2100. Experts, however, disagree with this fact arguing that the US withdrawal risks adding another 0.3 C. This singular US action is more likely in a few weeks or months to have a spillover effect by spurring other high fossil-fuel polluters to follow suit.

For many Americans, this could just be another self-inflicted wound because the vast majority of Americans desire to remain in the accord, including many of Trump’s supporters. According to a 2016 survey conducted just after the 2016 US Presidential elections, 69% of registered voters agreed that the United States should participate in the Paris agreement, including 86% of Democrats, 61% of Independents and 51% of Republicans.

Abandoning the US seat at the Paris climate table means the United States can no longer negotiate climate policies that advance American interests. The American civil society argues that this action puts the American people at extensive risks: their health, security, food supply, jobs, and future remain threatened.

Prior to how the American populace have reacted to Trump’s previous decisions, it very likely that Americans may invest more in private companies and NGOs running environmental projects so as not to be left out of the global fight against climate change.

The American tech community isn’t taking this lightly either. Google, Facebook and Microsoft CEOs;  Sundar Pichai, Mark Zuckerberg, and Satya Nadella, respectively,  all said on June 1 that they remain committed to the environment and clean energy initiatives in the face of Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris accord.

The trio is among the tech world’s most powerful voices and their decisions and views on political issues, are always considered paramount. To this effect, SpaceX and Telsa CEO, Elon Musk also announced he’ll be stepping down from Trump’s economic advisory council over this decision.

Building the necessary infrastructure for generating alternative sources of energy (wind turbines and solar systems for generating clean and renewable energy) is a possible way out.  This will enable African countries to have access to reliable electricity without increasing emissions of heat-trapping gases.

Practicing tree planting exercises as a way of reducing the presence of these gases in the atmosphere, are just some of the ways African governments can protect themselves from environmental climate change effects with America having backed out from the deal.

African governments may, in the long run, rely heavily on environmental funding schemes from environmental NGOs like the Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA) and the Environmental Funders Network (EFN) as well as spend a huge part of their income on curbing climate change (tree planting and other operations).

Meanwhile, Cameroonian NGOs like the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), Cameroon Environmental Watch, Green Cameroon Environmental Protection, should look forward to receiving funding from foreign bodies and government. Paris is only the beginning of a race towards a low-gas infused world, which leaves much still to be done to attain an absolute zero-carbon planet.

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