Africa will have to spend between $200-350 billion a year in climate adaptation costs by 2070, if the current global temperature rises by more than two degrees Celsius, according to a UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report on Tuesday.
The UNEP report said that much of the cost would go into adapting Africa’s infrastructure to the rising seas and stronger storms caused by global warming, while billions could also be lost to reduced crop production as a result of climate change.
“Africa is already facing adaptation costs in the range of $7-15 billion per year by 2020,” said the report.
“These costs will rise rapidly after 2020, since higher levels of warming will result in higher impacts.
“Combining adaptation costs with "residual" damages, the total costs can reach 4 percent of Africa's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2100, under a 3.5-4°C scenario.”
“If no adaptation measures are taken, damages are expected to cost 7 percent of African GDP by 2100 in a '3.5-4°C World'”, the report added.
UNEP’s executive director Achim Steiner called for funding to help African nations adapt to climate change and develop technical know-how.
"Missing the 2°C window will not only cost governments billions of dollars but will risk the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people on the African continent and elsewhere," Steiner said.
"Even with a warming scenario of under 2°C by 2050, Africa's undernourished would increase by 25-90 percent. Crop production will be reduced across much of the continent as optimal growing temperatures are exceeded. The capacity of African communities to cope with the impacts of climate change will be significantly challenged,” he added.
Steiner suggested a list of infrastructural improvements that Africa would need. They included better drainage systems, the construction of sea walls, developing drought-resistance crops and investment into renewable energy resources.
The UNEP report said that if global warming exceeded the 2°C mark, Africa's coastline would see sea-levels rise by at least 10 percent higher than the rest of the world, while rainfall will decline drastically, and coral reefs essential for fisheries, tourism and coastal protection, will likely become extinct.
Terezya Huvisa, president for the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, noted that Africa "cannot risk failure of implementing serious adaptation measures, especially with Africa’s predicted population rise of 2 billion by 2050 and the current ecosystem degradation trajectory”.
Download the full Africa Adaptation Gap Report