WB seeks $16bn to counter climate change in Africa


A man is carried across a flooded street. Global warming affects weather patterns. (File)

The World Bank has unveiled an ambitious business plan, worth $16 billion, for fast-tracking climate adaptation for sub-Sahara Africa region.

According to scientists, Africa is at great risk of suffering unimaginable effects of climate change and urgent intervention is needed to avert the calamity.

So what is wrong with the climate? How does one even notice a change in the alleged patterns? Why should they even care since everything sounds pretty much a natural affair, hence God’s business not humans’?

Scientists say the climate patterns, in their original natural form, are the pillars that shape natural ecosystems and human economic activities as well as cultures in a given place.

For instance, if the people in your district grow sorghum because the natural patterns of the climate in that area make the weather perfect for that particular crop and any change in those natural settings could result into failure of the traditional crop.

Unfortunately, that is what has happened. The natural settings of the climate have changed and, according to scientists, things are not what they used to be; the past is no longer a reliable predictor of the future.

The change in climate pattern is not only happening so fast but also accompanied by disruptive impacts not seen in the last 2,000 years.

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees and there is a dispute as to whether climate change is real or just a global hoax.

Although there is scientific consensus on climate change and its dangers, there are doubters who allege that the scientists and institutions involved in global warming research are part of a global conspiracy to promote some creepy agenda.

But, unlike researchers who have produced a huge volume of scientific evidence supporting their case, the doubters have none apart from rhetoric which has failed to gain widespread respect.

So what is at stake? It’s global warming, defined as ‘a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons and other pollutants.’

Cost of adapting

You only adapt to a situation if it has come to stay forever and it appears that the climate change humans have caused is permanent and since it can’t be undone, there is no option but to learn how to live with it and prevent the situation from getting worse.

So on Tuesday, the World Bank unveiled what it dubbed ‘the Africa Climate Business Plan’ under the title, “Accelerating climate-resilient and Low-Carbon Development.”

The plan will be presented at the global climate talks in Paris, on Monday. In Paris, the business plan will either be endorsed or challenged and the World Bank will assemble the best justification possible to convince stakeholders for their support.

World Bank President Kim Jim Yong says, for instance, that “sub-Saharan Africa is highly vulnerable to climate shocks, and research shows that could have far-ranging impact – on everything from child stunting and malaria to food price increases and droughts.”

Kim believes that the World Bank business plan is what Africa needs as “it identifies concrete steps that African governments can take to ensure that their countries will not lose hard-won gains in economic growth and poverty reduction, and they can offer some protection from climate change.”

Such statements are expected to be repeated in Paris to capture the attention of stakeholders who have been the vanguard of combating poverty, hunger and malaria in Africa, and are not prepared to have efforts, worth decades and billions of dollars, quashed by this ‘pest’ called climate change.

Those statements will be backed by certain numbers to make the case even stronger. For instance, before the Paris summit, about 150 countries pledged to cut their carbon emissions and keep the limit at around 2C by the end of the century to prevent further global warming.

But with its resource limitations and development constraints that force people to burn too much coal, maintaining that limit will be hard for African countries and the World Bank estimates that such attempt requires between $5 billion and $10 billion per year.

That cost will rise in coming years, to $20-50 billion by mid-century, and closer to $100 billion in the event of a 4°C warming, according to estimates by both the Bank and the UN Environment Programme.

Such projections make the Bank’s $16 billion business plan look not only small but perhaps also inadequate to deal with the problem; so there is a need for more investment.

“The Africa Climate Business Plan spells out a clear path to invest in the continent’s urgent climate needs and to fast-track the required climate finance to ensure millions of people are protected from sliding into extreme poverty,” explains Makhtar Diop, the World Bank Group vice-president for Africa.

Of the $16.1 billion that the ambitious plan proposes for fast-tracking climate adaptation, $5.7 billion is expected from the International Development Association (IDA), the arm of the World Bank Group that supports the poorest countries.

About $2.2 billion is expected from various climate finance instruments, $2.0 billion from others in the development community, $3.5 billion from the private sector, and $0.7 billion from domestic sources, with an additional $2 billion needed to deliver on the plan.

Jamal Saghir, the World Bank’s senior regional advisor for Africa, notes that partnering with African governments and development partners, including the private sector, will be vital to move the plan forward and deliver climate smart development.

No one will be forced to invest in the plan but the writing is on the wall for governments and it’s scary.

According to a recent analysis by the World Bank Group, climate change could push up to 43 million more Africans into poverty by 2030, if not checked.

No one wants that.


What is at stake?

It’s global warming – defined as ‘a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons and other pollutants.’

Simply put, there are abnormal changes in weather patterns seen on both extremes, either too heat or too much rain as never seen before; unfortunately, these occurrences are the ‘new normal’ after years of invisible climate change; humans must now adapt to these new climate realities.

Again, simply put, humans live in a greenhouse and life on earth depends on energy which comes from the sun and half the light that reaches the earth’s atmosphere passes through the air, clouds before reaching to the surface.

Once on the surface, that air is absorbed and then radiated upward in the form of infrared heat; about 90 per cent of this heat is then absorbed by the greenhouse gases and radiated back toward the surface, which is warmed to a life-supporting average of 15 degrees Celsius.

That process may sound complicated for a news article but that is the natural setting as put in place by God; if humans hadn’t tampered with those settings through harmful activities, they would have no business trying to comprehend how the system works, but they have to, now.

So people are busy fiddling in an attempt to restore the natural climatic setting but it isn’t coming easy and, next month, world leaders will meet in French capital, Paris, to plot a lasting solution and mobilise finances to facilitate the efforts.