The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — i The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report What’s in it for Africa?

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Key messages from the Fifth Assessment Report for AfricaAR5_IPCC_Whats_in_it_for_Africa

The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Afric and long-term approaches to managing climate risks.
In the short term, integrating climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction will help withstand shocks to human security and economic development from which recovery can be costly. In the longer term, governments, businesses and communities need not only to prepare for the kinds of climate impacts experienced up to now but also for different and more intense climate impacts and extreme events.
“In many cases, we are not prepared for the climaterelated risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both in the present and for the future.” Vicente Barros, Co-Chair, Working Group II Adaptation experience in Africa is growing The IPCC’s findings accord with current directions in African development policy-making. Over the past decade, countries across Africa have adopted increasingly comprehensive development plans with ambitious social and economic development objectives. They have attempted to move beyond the narrow objective of poverty reduction to encompass wider objectives of accelerated growth, employment creation, and provision of water, sanitation, health and education needs within the framework of sustainable development. Further, several African governments, such as Ethiopia and Rwanda, have adopted national climate resilience strategies with a view to applying them across economic sectors. For the continent as a whole, development planning and practice must now
reflect the reality of a changing climate, and ensure that investments take account of future climate conditions.14
African governments can help to promote
ambitious global action on climate change
Ambitious climate mitigation at the global level must start
now in order to limit the magnitude of long-term climate
change and reduce the risks. The world’s governments have
pledged to limit warming to at least 2oC above pre-industrial
levels. The need for deep cuts in emissions to limit warming
to the 2oC threshold is a central theme of the section of the
Fifth Assessment Report on climate mitigation.
The choices that global society makes today to curb
greenhouse gas emissions will have a profound impact
on the degree of warming during the second half of this
century. It is widely recognised that urgent action is needed
now to limit emissions at global level to mitigate the
impacts of dangerous climate change in the longer term.
Societies and ecosystems across the globe depend on such
actions – and on their happening in a coordinated way.
Some low-carbon development options
may be less costly in the long run and
could offer new economic opportunities
for Africa
The IPCC recognises that Africa (particularly sub-Saharan
Africa but excluding South Africa) has low levels of
emissions and that over time these emissions will increase
moderately to meet pressing development needs.15 In
expanding economically and meeting their development
needs, African countries have abundant opportunities
to adopt clean, efficient low-carbon technologies and
practices. They can side step the inefficient, fossil fueldependent
infrastructure that more developed countries
are ‘locked into’.16 The Fifth Assessment Report identifies
many low-carbon opportunities and co-benefits.17 Many
of the measures to avoid greenhouse gas emissions
provide generous gains in economic productivity, human
development and quality of life. The adoption of a lowcarbon
pathway needs to fit into countries’ specific
national circumstances, which means that the nature of
these pathways will depend on resources, capacities and
governance realities.
Ambitious climate mitigation
at a global level must start now
to limit the magnitude of longterm
climate change and reduce
the risks.
The world can afford ambitious mitigation action, provided
there is sufficient political will and cooperation among
countries on technology transfer and finance. Indeed, the
IPCC makes clear that it is relatively less expensive to adopt
low-carbon choices now rather than react later when
extensive institutional and infrastructure lock-in has taken
place. Annual global consumption growth is estimated
at 1.6–3% per year, and so adopting ambitious climate
mitigation measures would reduce this consumption
growth by around 0.06 percentage points per year this
century.19 Although Africa has contributed very little to
historic greenhouse gas emissions, African countries stand
to benefit from new, cleaner technologies, and these actions
would enable African governments to play a proactive and
leading role in promoting an ambitious global dialogue on
climate change.
6 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Africa stands to benefit from integrated
climate adaptation, mitigation and
development approaches
The IPCC points out that there are many complementarities
among climate adaptation, mitigation and development.19
Many sustainable development pathways combine
adaptation, mitigation and development approaches. The
Fifth Assessment Report provides policy-makers with a wealth
of evidence from climate change adaptation and mitigation
efforts around the world on what works and what does not
work. The IPCC also highlights some of the trade-offs.
Unless carefully considered, some mitigation activities bring
the risk of adverse consequences. For example, the adoption
of new technologies or crops to reduce or sequester carbon
can undermine the development opportunities and climate
resilience of vulnerable social groups. The IPCC provides
examples and recommends robust decision-making
processes to avert these risks.
Climate mitigation activities,
managed carefully so that they
do not introduce new risks
to development, can provide
multiple benefits.
International cooperation is vital to avert
dangerous climate change and African
governments can promote ambitious
global action
The IPCC’s work shows that international cooperation is
vital to avert dangerous climate change. Since the IPCC
was formed in 1992, its work has given us a progressively
improved understanding of climate science and provided
a clearer picture of the range of vulnerabilities in different
parts of the world. The Fifth Assessment Report provides the
strongest warning yet.
In 2010, governmental Parties to the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
meeting in Cancun20 pledged to reduce emissions to
achieve the long-term goal of limiting global warming to
2°C above pre-industrial temperatures. The Fifth Assessment
Report finds that the actual governmental pledges made at
and since Cancun fall short of what is needed to achieve the
long-term goal.
The Fifth Assessment Report recognises that climate change
is a global commons problem – a problem that lies outside
the political reach of any one nation state – and that it
requires a collective, global response. For this reason,
the IPCC’s findings on sources of global greenhouse gas
emissions and their impacts on climate provide African
governments with an important knowledge base for
formulating their positions in international climate change
Ensuring the right choices now requires every government
to participate in the global effort on climate change and
to work towards an ambitious collective solution. African
leaders have an important part to play – with all other
international leaders – in forging this commitment.
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 7
About the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
has produced the most comprehensive assessment
of climate change ever. The Fifth Assessment Report
(, which IPCC is releasing in four parts
between September 2013 and November 2014, is the work
of 830 expert authors, from 85 countries. The report reviews
the scientific evidence on the trends and causes of climate
change, the risks to human and natural systems, and options
for adaptation and mitigation. The IPCC aims to be – in its
own words – “policy relevant but not policy prescriptive”.
Its findings further our understanding of humankind’s
interaction with our environment: how we are affecting
the global climate and what we can do about it.
The IPCC Working Groups publish the reports comprising
the Fifth Assessment Report (see Figure: How the IPCC works,
page 70). These groups are: Working Group I (Physical
Science of Climate Change), Working Group II (Impacts,
Adaptation and Vulnerability) and Working Group III (Climate
Change Mitigation). The final report is a synthesis of findings.
Although the collected reports total many thousands
of pages, each Working Group produces a Summary for
Policymakers, which presents key findings in a more succinct
form. Representatives of more than 190 governments
review and negotiate the summaries in detail during a
week-long event. Once governments have signed off on
each Summary, the IPCC publishes it, together with the full
scientific report.
The component parts of the Fifth Assessment Report may
be accessed on the following websites:
Working Group I: The Physical Science
Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change
About this report
This report is a guide to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report
prepared for decision-makers in Africa by the Climate and
Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and Overseas
Development Institute (ODI). The IPCC ’s Summaries for
Policymakers focus principally on global issues and trends.
This report distils the richest material on what climate
change means for Africa, and African experiences in
adaptation and mitigation, from the thousands of pages
of the Fifth Assessment Report. The publication has not been
through the comprehensive governmental approval process
that IPCC endorsement requires. However, the expert
research team has worked under the guidance of IPCC
Coordinating Lead Authors and Reviewers to ensure fidelity
to the original (see Acknowledgements).
The research team has extracted the Africa-specific data,
trends and analysis directly and solely from the Fifth
Assessment Report for this short volume. In so doing, we
hope to make the IPCC’s important material more accessible
and usable to African audiences. This report responds to
wide demand among CDKN’s Africa partner networks,
for region-specific information.
Our publication is part of a suite of materials to aid
understanding of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report.
Companion volumes provide a digest of IPCC findings
for: South Asia; Latin America; and Small Island
Developing States.
Please visit
8 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 9
Scientists have observed changes in Africa’s climate
during the past century, with records showing increased
warming over Africa’s land mass. Climate change is
already having negative effects on Africa. It is impacting
the health of land and marine-based ecosystems, and
the health and food security of many of the region’s
most vulnerable people.
1.1. Human activity is influencing
the climate
The IPCC finds – beyond reasonable doubt – that the global
climate has warmed since the 1950s. The atmosphere
and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice
have diminished, and sea levels have risen. Concentrations
of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere have
increased and atmospheric concentrations of carbon
dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have now risen to levels
unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years.
According to the IPCC, there is 95% scientific certainty
that human activities are responsible for these increased
greenhouse gas concentrations. The primary sources of
emissions are fossil fuel emissions and changes in land
use, such as deforestation, to make room for agricultural
expansion to meet food requirements for a growing
population. These greenhouse gases do not only stay in
the atmosphere, they are also absorbed by the oceans.
About 30% of the carbon dioxide from human activities is
absorbed by the oceans, which makes ocean waters more
acidic and damages marine life.
Box 1: How the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report defines scientific certainty21
The IPCC accords a degree of certainty to each of its key
findings, based on the type, amount, quality and consistency of
evidence (e.g. data, theory, models, expert judgment), and the
degree of agreement among scientists. The terms to describe
evidence are: limited, medium or robust; and to describe
agreement: low, medium or high.
When the Fifth Assessment Report talks about ‘confidence’ in
a finding, ‘confidence’ represents a synthesis of how much
evidence there is, and how much scientific agreement exists.
The levels of confidence used are: very low, low, medium, high
and very high.
The likelihood of some outcome having occurred or occurring
in the future can be described in terms of percentages as
Virtually certain 99% or more
Extremely likely 95% or more
Very likely 90% or more
Likely 66% or more
More likely than not more than 50%
About as likely as not 33–66%
Unlikely 33% or less
Very unlikely 10% or less
Extremely unlikely 5% or less
Exceptionally unlikely 1% or less
Using this scale, it is possible to see the very high level of
certainty the world’s leading scientists have in concluding
that humans are the cause of global warming. In science, 95%
certainty is often considered the ‘gold standard’ for certainty,
the condition by which theories are accepted. For example, the
theories of evolution, the Earth’s age and the Big Bang theory
have all achieved this standard of scientific certainty.
It is extremely likely that
human activities have been
the dominant cause of
observed warming.
iStock | Seaweed farm at low tide, Zanzibar Island, Tanzania
1 Africa’s climate is already
changing and the impacts
are already being felt
10 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
1.2. Africa’s climate is already changing
Observed temperature: The IPCC has reported that land
surface temperatures across most of Africa have increased
by 0.5°C or more during the last 50–100 years. There is
strong evidence that observed temperature increases
exceed natural climate variability and have
been influenced by greenhouse gas emissions due to
human influence.
Observed rainfall: Most areas of Africa lack sufficient
observational data to draw conclusions about trends
in annual rainfall over the past century. Where data are
available, these indicate a very likely decrease in annual
rainfall over the past century in parts of the western and
eastern Sahel region in northern Africa and very likely
increases over parts of eastern and southern Africa.
Observed extreme events: Based on data since 1950,
evidence suggests that climate change has changed the
magnitude and frequency of some extreme weather and
climate events in some global regions already, although there
is a general lack of data for Africa, as described in the subregional
sections below.
Observed sea level rise: The rate of sea-level rise since the
mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during
the previous two millennia (high confidence). Over the period
1901–2010, global mean sea level rose by 19 cm, and will
continue to rise during the 21st century.
North Africa
Observed temperature: In recent decades, annual and
seasonal observed trends in North Africa show overall
warming in this region. Annual maximum temperatures are
Observed rainfall: Over the last few decades, the northern
parts of North Africa have received much less rainfall in
winter and early spring, and more dry days. In the Sahara
Desert, there has been little seasonal change.
Observed extreme events: There is limited information
about observed trends in the frequency of hot days,
extreme rainfall or drought for this region. However, the
northwestern Sahara has been shown to experience 40–50
heat wave days every year between 1989 and 2009.
East Africa
Observed temperature: The equatorial and southern parts
of eastern Africa have experienced a significant increase
in temperature since the early 1980s. Seasonal average
temperatures have also risen in many parts of eastern
0 2 4 6
Change in annual temperature, °C Change in annual precipitation, mm/year/decade
-100 -50 -25 -10 -5 -2.5 0 2.5 5 10 25 50
Figure 1: Change in annual average temperature
in Africa, 1901–201222
Figure 2: Change in annual average rainfall in
Africa, 1951–201223
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 11
Africa in the last 50 years. Countries bordering the western
Indian Ocean experienced warmer temperatures and more
frequent heat waves between 1961 and 2008.
Observed rainfall: Rainfall in eastern Africa is very variable
in time and space. Several physical processes, including the
El Niño Southern Oscillation, affect rainfall. Some models
suggest that rapid warming of the Indian Ocean may be
the cause of less rainfall over eastern Africa between March
and May-June in the last 30 years. Summer monsoon rainfall
declined throughout much of the Horn of Africa over the
last 60 years.
Observed extreme events: There is a lack of evidence
about trends in extreme temperature, extreme rainfall and
drought in East Africa (low confidence). However, droughts
and storms have been more frequent in eastern Africa in the
last 30–60 years. Continued warming in the Indian Ocean
has been shown to contribute to more frequent East African
spring and summer droughts over the past 30 years. It is
not clear whether these changes are due to anthropogenic
influence or to natural climatic variability.
West Africa
Observed temperature: Temperatures across West Africa
have risen over the last 50 years. There were fewer cold days
and cold nights and more warm days and warm nights
between 1970 and 2010.
Observed rainfall: Rainfall in the Sahel decreased overall
in the 20th century, but recovered to previous levels in
the 1980s and 1990s. The recovery may be due to natural
climate variability or anthropogenic climate change. The
many droughts in the Sahel in the 1970s and 1980s are
well documented.
Observed extreme events: A significant increase in the
temperature of hottest days and coolest days has been
observed in some parts of West Africa (medium confidence)
although there is insufficient information available in other
parts to identify trends. There is likely to be an increase in
the frequency of hot days in the future (high confidence).
There has also been an observed increase in drought in the
region, although the 1970s Sahel drought dominates this
trend. Greater variation between years has been observed
more recently (high confidence).
Southern Africa
Observed temperature: Since the mid-20th century, most
of southern Africa has experienced an increase in annual
average, maximum and minimum temperatures. The most
significant warming has been during the last two decades.
Minimum temperatures have risen more rapidly compared
to maximum temperatures over inland southern Africa.
Observed rainfall: Western parts of southern Africa, from
Namibia to Angola and the Congo, had less late summer
rain in the second half of the 20th century. Botswana,
Zimbabwe and western South Africa have also had modest
decreases in rainfall. Seasonal rainfall patterns, such as
the onset or duration of rains, frequency of dry spells and
intensity of rainfall, as well as delays in the onset of rainfall,
have changed. More frequent dry spells, coupled with more
intense daily rainfall, have implications for surface water
management and flood risk.
Observed extreme events: More hot days, hot nights
and hotter days, and fewer cold days and cold nights in
recent decades are consistent with overall warming. There
has been a likely increase in the frequency of hot days
in southern Africa (high confidence). There is also a likely
increase projected for the future (high confidence). The
probability of summer heat waves in South Africa increased
1981–2000 compared to 1961–1980. Heat waves were
associated with a lack of rainfall during El Niño events.
1.3. The impacts of climate change are
already being felt
Even today, climatic risks threaten lives and prosperity
across many parts of Africa and there are clear signs that the
impacts of climate change are already being felt. The health,
livelihoods and food security of people in Africa have
been affected by climate change.24 There is evidence that
temperature changes have played a role in the increased
incidence of malaria in parts of East Africa, and have already
driven changes in the practices of South African farmers.25
Production of wheat and maize in parts of Africa has been
impacted by climate change, as has the productivity of
fisheries of the Great Lakes and Lake Kariba and fruit-bearing
trees in the Sahel.26
The impacts from recent weather-related extremes, such as
heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones and wildfires, reveal
the exposure and vulnerability of some African people and
economies to climate (Box 2).
Following droughts in the 1970s and 1980s, recurrent
droughts and floods affected the Sahel in the 1990s
and 2000s, often destroying crops and compounding
food security problems.27 Floods in the Zambezi River
Valley displaced 90,000 Mozambicans in 2008. About
1 million people live in flood-affected areas and temporary
displacement is taking on permanent characteristics.28
The experiences of extreme weather events in different
parts of Africa highlight the risks to human wellbeing.
The Fifth Assessment Report expects such events to become
more frequent and more intense as the climate changes,
though with large regional variations and differing degrees
of confidence depending on the type of climate event.29
The economic losses due to extreme weather events are
also rising with the increasing frequency of events and
increasing exposure of assets.30
12 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Very high
Food production
Livelihoods, health
and/or economics
Rivers, lakes, oods
and/or drought
Glaciers, snow, ice
and/or permafrost
Major contribution
of climate change
Minor contribution
of climate change
Medium Low
Very low
Condence in attribution to
climate change
Figure 3: Impacts
of climate change
in Africa33
Very high
Food production
Livelihoods, health
and/or economics
Rivers, lakes, oods
and/or drought
Glaciers, snow, ice
and/or permafrost
Major contribution
of climate change
Minor contribution
of climate change
Medium Low
Very low
Condence in attribution to
climate change
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 13
Box 2: Climate change poses risks to human and natural systems34
Risks related to climate change arise from climate-related
hazards (climate trends and extremes) and the vulnerability
of exposed societies, communities and systems (in terms of
livelihoods, infrastructure, ecosystem services and governance).
Effective measures to adapt to climate change and reduce
the risks associated with climate change can address all three
aspects of risk: hazard, vulnerability and exposure.
The vulnerability and exposure of societies and ecological
systems to climate-related hazards vary constantly because
of changes in economic, social, demographic, cultural,
institutional and governance circumstances. For example, rapid
and unsustainable urban development, international financial
pressures, increases in socioeconomic inequality, failures
in governance and environmental degradation affect
vulnerability. These changes unfold in different places at
different times, meaning that strategies to strengthen resilience
and reduce exposure and vulnerability need to be locally or
regionally specific. For example, countries that are rapidly
urbanising are vulnerable to climate change if their economic
development is slow. In other countries, urbanisation may
present opportunities to adapt to climate change. Poverty
is also a critical factor in determining vulnerability to climate
change and extreme events. For example, vulnerability to
drought in sub-Saharan Africa is closely linked to poverty in
rural economies.35
and Land-use Change
Climate Change
and Mitigation
The impacts of recent extreme weather events also
demonstrate the vulnerability of some African ecosystems
(Box 2). The geographic range, seasonal activities and
migration patterns of many terrestrial, freshwater and
marine species have shifted in response to ongoing climate
change.31 The abundance of species has changed, as
have interactions among species. The pace of change has
been rapid. Climate change has already led to changes in
freshwater and marine ecosystems in eastern and southern
Africa, and terrestrial ecosystems in southern and Western
Africa (Figure 3).32
These examples from different parts of Africa highlight the
risks of extreme weather events to human wellbeing in a part
of the world where institutions are weak and the capacity
to adapt barely exists. Communities across Africa have an
inherent vulnerability to climate risks and extreme events,
events which are expected to become more frequent and
more intense in magnitude as the climate changes.
14 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
African societies must prepare for inevitable changes in
the climate during the next few decades, even as they
join the global effort to limit greenhouse gas emissions
and curb further warming. In Africa, climate change
will amplify existing stresses on water availability and
agriculture and will affect public health.
2.1. The world will continue warming until
The IPCC reports that total emissions have continued to rise
since 1970, with larger absolute increases between 2000 and
2010.36 Globally, the majority of greenhouse gas emissions
due to human activities have come from a small number
of countries – though the number is increasing. The IPCC
warns that if global society continues to emit greenhouse
gases at current rates and in the absence of robust climate
mitigation policies, the average global temperature could
rise by 2.6–4.8oC by 2100 (according to the IPCC’s highemissions
scenario37). The implication of this scenario is that
climate change will create new risks and amplify existing
risks for human and natural systems, further challenging
food, livelihoods and human security, and wellbeing.
Box 3 illustrates projected warming under a low-emissions
scenario, a high-emissions scenario and two mid-range
scenarios, and the temperature changes associated with
each.38 Regardless of future emissions, we are already
committed to further warming largely due to past emissions
and inertia in the climate system.39 Whether global society
continues to emit greenhouse gases at today’s rate, or cuts
greenhouse gas emissions sharply now, does not make
2 Further climate change
is inevitable in the coming
Box 3: What are the IPCC scenarios?
In assessing future climate change, the Fifth Assessment
Report presents four scenarios, known as Representative
Concentration Pathways (RCPs – see figure at right).
The scenarios show the result of different levels of emissions
of greenhouse gases, from the present day to 2100, on global
warming. IPCC does not indicate which policy and behavioural
choices40 society could make that would lead to the scenarios.
In all scenarios, carbon dioxide concentrations are higher in
2100 than they are today. The low-emissions scenario41 assumes
substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas
emissions. The high-emissions scenario42 assumes continued
high-emissions. The two intermediate scenarios43 assume some
stabilisation in emissions.
In the next few decades, warming will be the same in all
scenarios (see the overlap between the scenarios at right, and
in Box 4). Regardless of action taken now to reduce emissions,
the climate will change until around the middle of this century.
In the longer term, in all except the low-emissions scenario,
global warming at the end of the 21st century is likely to be
at least 1.5°C.44 In the two higher emissions scenarios, global
warming is likely to be 2°C. In the second lowest emissions
scenario, global warming is more likely than not to be 2°C.45
Warming will continue beyond 2100 under all emissions
scenarios except the lowest and will continue to vary between
years and between decades.
1900 1950 2000
2050 2100
RCP8.5 (a highemissions
RCP2.6 (a lowemissions
Global mean temperature change (C relative to 1986–2005)
Observed warming and
warming under IPCC scenarios
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 15
Box 4: Impacts of global warming48
The diagram below shows global warming in the last century,
and projected global warming to 2100 according to the IPCC’s
highest and lowest emissions scenarios. The IPCC identifies five
main areas of concern as temperatures rise. The diagram on
the right indicates the additional climate-related risks in these
areas of concern when temperatures reach a certain level,
are sustained at that level or exceeded. At even relatively low
levels of warming of 1 to 2°C, many unique natural systems are
threatened and food productivity, human health and water
resources could be negatively impacted in some regions.
The IPCC concludes that large-scale warming, of around 4°C
or above, will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive
and irreversible impacts to which it will be difficult to adapt.
Climate change impacts across these areas of concern will
increase risks of food insecurity and the breakdown of food
systems, increase risks of loss of rural livelihoods and income
due to insufficient access to drinking and irrigation water and
reduced agricultural productivity, particularly for farmers and
pastoralists with minimal capital in semi-arid regions. Risks
due to extreme weather events leading to breakdown of
infrastructure networks and critical services such as electricity,
water supply, and health and emergency services are also
linked to these areas of concern.
1900 1950 2000 2050 2100
Global mean temperature change
(C relative to 1986–2005)
Global mean temperature change (C relative to
1850–1900, as an approximation of pre-industrial levels)
RCP8.5 (a high-emissions
RCP2.6 (a low-emissions
Unique &
systems Extreme
of impacts
Very high
Level of additional risk due to climate change
Global mean temperature change
(C relative to 1986–2005)
Global mean temperature change (C relative to
1850–1900, as an approximation of pre-industrial levels)
Observed and projected global
annual average temperature
Global risks under increasing
levels of climate change
a big difference in terms of climate impacts in the next
few decades.
Curbing emissions to maintain global temperatures
below 2°C requires urgent action at global level. However,
the benefits to the global climate – and societies and
ecosystems that depend on it – will only emerge in the
latter half of the century. The IPCC lists the many reasons
why mitigation action must start now and the kinds
of immediate benefits it can deliver (see page 34 onwards).
In contrast, taking action on adaptation today delivers many
immediate benefits. But, there are limits to adaptation. For
this reason, both adaptation and mitigation are needed;
they each deliver benefits but over different timeframes.46
Climate change will create
new risks and amplify existing
risks for society and the natural
16 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
“Extreme precipitation changes
over Eastern Africa such as
droughts and heavy rainfall
have been experienced more
frequently during the last 30–
60 years.” IPCC49
Risks are unevenly distributed
and are generally greater for
disadvantaged people and
communities in countries at
all levels of development.
2.2. Future climate trends for Africa51
Projected temperature trends: During this century,
temperatures in the African continent are likely to rise more
quickly than in other land areas, particularly in more arid
regions. Increases in average temperatures are very likely in
the mid- and late-21st century under both low- and highemissions
Under a high-emissions scenario, average temperatures will
rise more than 2°C, the threshold set in current international
agreements, over most of the continent by the mid-21st
century. Average temperatures will rise more than 4°C across
most areas by the late 21st century. Changes in average
temperature are projected to be greater over northern and
southern Africa and relatively smaller over central Africa.
Under a low-emissions scenario, average temperature rises
across Africa are projected to be less than 2°C by both the
mid- and late-21st century.
Projected rainfall trends: Projections for rainfall are less
certain than projections for temperature. Most areas of the
African continent do not show changes in annual average
rainfall under low-emissions scenarios. However, projections
do show a very likely decrease in annual average rainfall over
areas of southern Africa beginning in the mid-21st century,
and expanding substantially by the late-21st century, under
a high-emissions scenario. In contrast, likely increases in
annual average rainfall are projected over areas of central
and eastern Africa beginning in the mid-21st century for the
same high-emissions scenario.
Projected extreme events: In the next two or three
decades, the expected increase in climate extremes will
probably be relatively small compared to the normal yearto-
year variations in such extremes. However, as climate
change impacts become more dramatic, their effect on
a range of climate extremes in Africa, including heavy
rainfall, heat waves and drought, will become increasingly
important and will play a more significant role in disaster
Projected sea level rise: Under all emissions scenarios –
low and high – the rate of sea level rise will very likely
exceed that observed during the past three decades due to
increased ocean warming and increased loss of mass from
glaciers and ice sheets. Global mean sea level rise during
the last two decades of the 21st century (as compared to
sea level in 1986–2005) will likely be in the range 26–55 cm
under a low-emissions scenario, but 45–82 cm for a highemissions
scenario – with total sea level rise of up to 98 cm
by 2100 under this latter scenario. This magnitude of sea
level rise by the century’s end implies significantly increased
risks for Africa’s coastal settlements, as well as for coastal
economies, cultures and ecosystems.
“In Africa, climate change will
amplify existing stress on water
availability and on agricultural
systems, particularly in semiarid
environments.” IPCC52
2000 2020 2040 2060 2080 2100
Year RCP8.5
Mean over
Figure 4: Global mean sea
level rise50
Shutterstock | Mother and child at medical clinic, Nairobi, Kenya
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 17
18 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
North Africa
Projected temperature: Both annual minimum and
maximum temperatures are likely to rise further under a
high-emissions scenario, with more of a rise in minimum
temperatures. Projections indicate that temperatures will be
higher during the northern hemisphere summer.
Projected rainfall: By the end of this century, it is very likely
that northern Africa will receive less rainfall. Global and
regional projections for the 21st century consistently indicate
yearly and seasonal drying and warming over northern
Africa under high-emissions scenarios.
Projected extreme events: Projections indicate that the
number of heat wave days will increase over the 21st century.
There is high confidence that there will be a likely increase in
the frequency of hot days across the Sahara. The projections
for extreme rainfall are inconsistent.
West Africa
Projected temperature: Projections indicate that
temperatures in West Africa will rise by between 3°C and
6°C by the end of the 21st century under a range of scenarios.
Regional-scale models support the range of change
indicated by global models. Under a range of scenarios,
the Sahel and West Africa are projected to be hotspots of
climate change. Projections indicate that unprecedented
changes in climate will occur earliest in these regions, by
the late 2030s to early 2040s.
Projected rainfall: Variations in the results of global models
mean that confidence in the robustness of projections of
changes in regional rainfall is low to medium pending the
availability of more regional data. However, many global
models indicate a wetter main rainy season with a small
delay in the onset of the rainy season by the end of the
21st century.
Projected extreme events: Projections of the risk of
drought are inconsistent for this region. An increase in
rainfall intensity has been observed (medium confidence),
although projections indicate slight or no change in heavy
rainfall in most areas (medium confidence). The results of
regional modelling suggest an increase in more intense
and more frequent extreme rainfall events over the Guinea
Highlands and Cameroon Mountains.
East Africa
Projected temperature: Projections for medium- to highemissions
scenarios indicate that maximum and minimum
temperatures over equatorial East Africa will rise and that
there will be more warmer days compared to the baseline
by the middle and end of this century. Climate models show
warming in all four seasons over Ethiopia, which may result
in more frequent heat waves.
Projected rainfall: In spite of the declining rainfall trend
observed (page 11 above), global projections suggest
that by the end of the 21st century, the climate in eastern
Africa will be wetter, with more intense wet seasons and
less severe droughts in October-November-December
and March-April-May, a reversal of recent historical trends.
Regional models suggest that most parts of Uganda, Kenya
and South Sudan will be drier in August and September
by the end of the 21st century. Projections indicate shorter
spring rains in the mid-21st century for Ethiopia, Somalia,
Tanzania and southern Kenya, and longer autumn rains in
southern Kenya and Tanzania.
Projected extreme events: The IPCC’s Special Report on
Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance
Climate Change Adaptation54 (SREX, 2012) indicates that
there will likely be more heavy rainfall over the region with
high certainty and more extremely wet days by the mid-21st
century. There will also likely be an increase in the frequency
of hot days in the future (high confidence), although a
decreasing dryness trend over large areas is also projected
(medium confidence).
Southern Africa
Projected temperature: Warming in southern Africa in
all seasons is likely to exceed average global warming.
Towards the end of the 21st century, projections for highemissions
scenarios show warming of 3.4–4.2°C, far
exceeding increases in temperature from natural climatic
variability. Projections indicate rapid warming in semi-arid
southwestern parts of southern Africa – northwestern South
Africa, Botswana and Namibia.
Projected rainfall: Over southern Africa, global model
projections show drying in the southwest, extending
northeast from the Namibia and Botswana deserts. During
the southern summer months, global models project dry
conditions in the southwest while regional models project
wetter conditions in the southeast of South Africa and
the Drakensberg Mountains. As in the Fourth Assessment
Report, projections indicate drier winters over a large part of
southern Africa by the end of the century.
Projected extreme events: Projections indicate that during
the 21st century and beyond, the risk of severe droughts
in southwestern regions will be high and there will be
an increase in the area affected by drought (medium
confidence). There is considerable uncertainty concerning
projected changes in landfall of tropical cyclones originating
in the southwest Indian Ocean. These cyclones led to
intense flooding in the 20th century. More parts of southern
Africa have observed increases in extreme rainfall than
decreases, although trends vary over this area (medium
confidence). Projections indicate that both extremely low
rainfall and extremely high rainfall (e.g. in southeast regions)
may become more common in the future, although there is
lack of agreement for the region as a whole (low confidence).
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 19
North Africa
West Africa East Africa
Southern Africa
Climatic factors
Levels of condence in ndings
High condence
Northern areas.
Increasing trend projected for short rainy
season only.
Medium condence
Low condence
Symbol Rainfall Temperature Extreme rainfall, extreme temperature,
sea-level rise
up to 30% increasing trend 1–6°C increasing trend –
up to 10% increasing trend 1–4.5°C increasing trend increasing trend
both increasing and decreasing trends – both increasing and decreasing trends
up to 10% decreasing trend – decreasing trend
up to 30% decreasing trend – –
inconsistent trend inconsistent trend inconsistent trend
no or only slight change inconsistent trend inconsistent trend
Figure 5: Future
climate trends
for Africa53
20 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Climate change poses
challenges to growth and
development in Africa
Much of Africa’s economic growth is dependent on
climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forestry
and fisheries, as are the livelihood prospects of a
majority of the region’s population. Climate change
brings considerable risks to Africa’s economic prospects,
as well as to food security, freshwater availability
and public health.
3.1. Climate change could undermine
Africa’s recent development progress
Sub-Saharan Africa is a rapidly developing region with
a population of about 900 million, and wide ecological,
climatic and cultural diversity. At present, six of the ten
fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa.
Growth in these economies started from a relatively
low base so the current rate of economic growth needs
to be seen against a background of three decades of
poor development performance, conflict and economic
marginalisation. Some of these problems remain. However,
there are hopeful signs that a number of countries are
turning a corner – for the better.
It is critical to recognise that Africa’s growth is fragile. Real
economic transformation has yet to take root. Part of Africa’s
vulnerability lies in the fact that recent development gains
have been in climate-sensitive sectors. Economically, many
Africans depend for food, fibre and income on primary
sectors such as agriculture and fisheries, sectors which are
affected by rising temperatures, rising sea levels and erratic
rainfall. Demographic and economic trends in Africa mean
that climate impacts will be acute. For example, growing
populations will increase the demand for water and food
but prolonged droughts will put additional pressure on
already scarce water resources and will reduce crop yields.55
Already the region suffers from widespread, recurring risks
to food production. Without adequate measures to adapt,
these risks could become more intense under a changing
climate.56 For scenarios approaching 4°C warming, the risk to
food security in Africa could be very severe, and there would
be limited potential for reducing risk through adaptation.57
The IPCC points out that some of the major crops in
Africa are highly sensitive to changes in temperature.58 For
example, climate change is very likely to have an overall
negative effect on yields of major cereal crops across Africa,
though with strong regional variability in the degree of
loss.59 Estimated yield losses at mid-century range from 18%
for southern Africa to 22% aggregated across sub-Saharan
Africa, with yield losses for South Africa and Zimbabwe in
excess of 30%.60
In a world that is 4°C warmer, the current cropping areas of
crops such as maize, millet and sorghum across Africa could
become unviable.61 The adaptation challenges of a world
that is 4°C warmer are not limited to agriculture, but extend
to other critical sectors such as livestock, fisheries, tourism,
health, water and energy.62
“In Africa, climate change will
amplify existing stress on water
availability and on agricultural
systems, particularly in semiarid
environments.” IPCC63
Health is an area of particular risk in Africa’s changing
climate. Already, people over much of the continent have
insufficient access to safe water, good sanitation and
adequate healthcare. The IPCC finds that because of this,
climate change will exacerbate vulnerability to vector and
water-borne diseases.64 For example, more floods in areas
with poor sanitation and waste management will spread
disease. Warmer nights and days will allow disease-carrying
insects to spread to new latitudes.65
The considerable threats could undermine the progress that
African countries have made in tackling disease, malnutrition
and early deaths in the past decades, together with gains in
improving agricultural productivity.
Adaptation can reduce these risks and bring immediate
benefits. But, even with significant resource and institutional
investment on adaptation, for the most vulnerable there
may be residual risks to food security, access to water, health
and human security.66 In the long term, there may be limits
to adaptation and the only way to reduce these risks is
through global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
3.2. Climate change will have economic
impacts in Africa
For most economic sectors, changes in population, age
structure, income, technology, prices, lifestyle, regulation
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 21
and governance are projected to have more impact than
changes in climate (high agreement, medium evidence). The
more global warming increases, the greater the economic
losses will be, but little is known about aggregate economic
impacts above 3°C.
Global economic impacts from climate change are difficult
to estimate. Existing estimates vary in the sectors and
factors they account for and depend on a large number of
assumptions, many of which are disputable. So, while the
impacts of climate change may lower productivity and slow
economic growth, the degree to which this will happen
is not clear (high agreement, limited evidence). However,
changes in climate could be one of the reasons why some
countries are trapped in poverty. There is evidence to
suggest that erratic economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa
can be explained in part by diminishing rainfall, increasing
drought and more frequent extreme heat events. African
economies and livelihoods are directly dependent on
weather patterns, and so climate change and variability have
direct implications.67
3.3. Climate change will exacerbate
poverty in Africa
Climate change will exacerbate and further entrench
poverty (very high confidence). Climate change and climate
variability could worsen existing poverty, exacerbate
inequalities, and trigger both new vulnerabilities and
opportunities for individuals and communities. Climate
change will create new poor between now and 2100 in
low-, medium- and high-income countries. However,
projections indicate that urban areas and some rural regions
in sub-Saharan Africa will experience the most significant
growth in new poor (medium confidence, based on medium
evidence, medium agreement).68
Areas where projections indicate there will be more
frequent extreme events coincide with zones of
considerable poverty, although not all poor people will be
at risk. Regions specifically at high risk are those exposed
to sea level rise and extreme events, where there is multidimensional
poverty. These high-risk areas include pockets
of poor people in developing countries, and severely
degraded dryland and coastal ecosystems in eastern and
southern Africa.
Climate change threats could
undermine the progress African
countries have made in tackling
disease, malnutrition and early
deaths, and gains in agricultural
Image: Neil Palmer/ CIAT | Irrigating farmland, East Africa
22 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Image: Johanna Schwartz | Coastal fisheries, Ghana
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 23
There are many synergies between action on
climate adaptation and the achievement of human
development objectives. This means that many actions
can be taken to strengthen climate resilience which
are ‘no regrets’ or ‘low regrets’. Even in the face of
uncertainty about exactly which climate impacts
will strike and when, such investments will benefit
human development.
4.1. Adaptation actions create many
synergies with development
Further warming is inevitable in the next few decades, even
if global society ceased to emit greenhouse gases today.
Adaptation is the only effective option to manage the
inevitable impacts of climate change that mitigation cannot
reduce. The IPCC describes adaptation as “the process of
adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects”.69
Through adaptation, societies and communities can seek to
moderate the harm of current and future climate risks or to
take advantage of new opportunities.
Adaptation brings benefits both today and in the future.
For example, Africa has much to gain from adaptation
actions like disaster risk reduction and social protection that
reduce the impacts of warming that are already being felt
(Figure 6) and build resilience around critical sectors such
as water, energy and agriculture. The IPCC emphasises that
integrating adaptation into planning and decision-making
can create many synergies with development.70
Effective adaptation strategies can, and should, strengthen
livelihoods, enhance wellbeing and human security, and
reduce poverty today. ‘No regrets’ or ‘low regrets’ measures
such as increasing access to information and resources,
improving health services, diversifying cropping systems,
strengthening access to land, credit and other resources for
poor and marginalised groups, and making water and land
management and governance more effective are good for
development, irrespective of changes in climate (Table 1;
Boxes 4–5).71
Africa’s urgent need to adapt to climate change stems from
its sensitivity and vulnerability to climate change, together
with low levels of capacity to adapt (adaptive capacity).
Economic, demographic, health, education, infrastructure,
governance and natural factors mean that Africa’s overall
adaptive capacity is low – and it varies within countries
and across sub-regions. There are indications that adaptive
capacity is higher in northern Africa. Individual or household
level adaptive capacity depends on the ability to make
informed decisions to respond to climatic and other changes,
as well as on access to efficient institutions and assets.
The good news is that Africa has inherent strengths that will
be important for climate adaptation. These include a wealth
of natural resources and well-developed social networks.
Local and indigenous knowledge underpin longstanding
traditional practices for managing climate variability
through, for example, diversifying crops and livelihoods,
migration and small-scale enterprises. The extent to which
such strategies will be sufficient to deal with future changes
is uncertain. Since Africa is extensively exposed to a range
of stresses that interact in complex ways with longer
term climate change, adaptation needs are broad: they
encompass institutional, social, physical and infrastructure
needs, ecosystem services and environmental needs,
and financial and capacity needs. In Africa, successful
adaptation will depend upon developing resilience in the
face of uncertainty.
4.2. Current development strategies must
be climate-proofed
However, current development strategies are unable to
deal with existing climatic risks. National policies can end
up disregarding or undermining cultural, traditional and
context-specific practices that aid local climate adaptation.
Poorly conceived development programmes and adaptation
strategies in one sector can lower resilience in other sectors
or ecosystems. Incomplete, under-resourced and fragmented
institutional frameworks translate into largely ad hoc projects,
which are often donor driven. Overall, African countries’
adaptive capacity to manage complex social and ecological
change, especially at local government level, is weak.
The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report presents evidence that risks
to Africa have already increased due to observed changes in
the climate system, and will continue to increase, particularly
under higher emissions scenarios. As the bars on the righthand
side of Figure 6 (page 26) illustrate, there is potential
to significantly reduce some impacts through adaptation,
which will require additional investment and effort. At the
highest emission scenarios, with warming of 4°C or more,
Africa will be facing severe risks that will be increasingly
difficult to manage through climate change adaptation.
Adaptation will bring immediate
benefits and reduce the impacts
of climate change in Africa
24 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Box 5: Women, children and the elderly
can be more vulnerable to climate
change impacts72
Women often experience additional duties as labourers
and caregivers as a result of extreme weather events
and climate change, as well as from society’s responses
to climate change (e.g. male migration). They face more
psychological and emotional distress, reduced food
intake and adverse mental health outcomes due to
displacement, and in some cases, increasing incidences
of domestic violence.
Children and the elderly are often at higher risk due
to narrow mobility, susceptibility to infectious diseases,
reduced caloric intake and social isolation; young children
are more likely to die from or be severely compromised
by diarrheal diseases and floods. The elderly face
disproportional physical harm and death from heat stress,
droughts and wildfires.
Box 6: Action on climate change and
development are inextricably linked73
The IPCC concludes:
• People who are socially, economically, culturally,
politically, institutionally or otherwise marginalised in
society are often highly vulnerable to climate change.
• Climate change impacts are projected to slow
economic growth, make poverty reduction more
difficult, further erode food security, and prolong
existing and create new poverty traps, particularly
in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger.
• Climate change poses an increasing threat to equitable
and sustainable development. Sustainable development
and equity provide a basis for assessing climate policies
and addressing the risks of climate change.
• Business-as-usual development pathways can
contribute to climate risk and vulnerability, and miss
out on innovations and opportunities to build resilience
in social and economic sectors.
The IPCC underlines Africa’s need to integrate
climate action with inclusive and sustainable
economic development.74
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 25
Category Examples
Improved access to education, nutrition, health facilities, energy, safe housing and settlement structures, and social
support structures; reduced gender inequality and marginalisation in other forms.
Poverty alleviation Improved access to and control of local resources; land tenure; disaster risk reduction; social safety nets and social
protection; insurance schemes.
Livelihood security Income, asset and livelihood diversification; improved infrastructure; access to technology and decision-making
fora; increased decision-making power; changed cropping, livestock and aquaculture practices; reliance on
social networks.
Disaster risk
Early warning systems; hazard and vulnerability mapping; diversifying water resources; improved drainage; flood
and cyclone shelters; building codes and practices; storm and wastewater management; transport and road
infrastructure improvements.
Maintaining wetlands and urban green spaces; coastal afforestation; watershed and reservoir management;
reduction of other stressors on ecosystems and of habitat fragmentation; maintenance of genetic diversity;
manipulation of disturbance regimes; community-based natural resource management.
Spatial or land-use
Provisioning of adequate, housing, infrastructure and services; managing development in flood-prone and other
high risk areas; urban planning and upgrading programmes; land zoning laws; easements; protected areas.
Engineered and built environment options: sea walls and coastal protection structures; flood levees; water
storage; improved drainage; flood and cyclone shelters; building codes and practices; storm and wastewater
management; transport and road infrastructure improvements; floating houses; power plant and electricity
grid adjustments.
Technological options: new crops and animal varieties; indigenous, traditional and local knowledge, technologies,
and methods; efficient irrigation; water-saving technologies; desalinisation; conservation agriculture; food storage
and preservation facilities; hazard and vulnerability mapping and monitoring; early warning systems; building
insulation; mechanical and passive cooling; technology development, transfer and diffusion.
Ecosystem-based options: ecological restoration; soil conservation; afforestation and reforestation; mangrove
conservation and replanting; green infrastructure (e.g. shade trees, green roofs); controlling overfishing; fisheries
co-management; assisted species migration and dispersal; ecological corridors; seed banks, gene banks and other
ex situ conservation; community-based natural resource management.
Services: social safety nets and social protection; food banks and distribution of food surplus; municipal services
including water and sanitation; vaccination programmes; essential public services; enhanced emergency
medical services.
Economic options: financial incentives; insurance; catastrophe bonds; payments for ecosystem services; pricing
water to encourage universal provision and careful use; microfinance; disaster contingency funds; cash transfers;
public-private partnerships.
Laws and regulations: land zoning laws; building standards and practices; easements; water regulations and
agreements; laws to support disaster risk reduction; laws to encourage insurance purchasing; defined property
rights and land tenure security; protected areas; fishing quotas; patent pools and technology transfer.
National and government policies and programmes: national and regional adaptation plans including
mainstreaming; sub-national and local adaptation plans; economic diversification; urban upgrading programmes;
municipal water management programmes; disaster planning and preparedness; integrated water resource
management; integrated coastal zone management; ecosystem-based management; community-based
Educational options: awareness raising and integration into education; gender equity in education; extension
services; sharing indigenous, traditional and local knowledge; participatory action research and social learning;
knowledge-sharing and learning platforms.
Informational options: hazard and vulnerability mapping; early warning and response systems; systematic
monitoring and remote sensing; climate services; use of indigenous climate observations; participatory scenario
development; integrated assessments.
Behavioural options: household preparation and evacuation planning; migration; soil and water conservation;
storm drain clearance; livelihood diversification; changed cropping, livestock and aquaculture practices; reliance
on social networks.
Spheres of change
Practical: social and technical innovations, behavioural shifts, or institutional and managerial changes that produce
substantial shifts in outcomes.
Political: political, social, cultural and ecological decisions and actions consistent with reducing vulnerability and
risk and supporting adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development.
Personal: individual and collective assumptions, beliefs, values and worldviews influencing climate
change responses.
Vulnerability and exposure reduction
through development, planning and practices including many low regrets measures
Adaptation including incremental and transformational adjustments
Table 1: Action on climate change
adaptation can bolster development75
26 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Medium Very
Medium Very
Medium Very
Key risk Adaptation issues and
Climate drivers Time
Risk and potential for
Compounded stress on water
resources facing significant
strain from overexploitation
and degradation at present
and increased demand in the
future with drought stress
exacerbated in droughtprone
regions of Africa
(high confidence)
• Reducing non-climate stressors on
water resources
• Strengthening institutional
capacities for demand management,
groundwater assessment,
integrated water-wastewater
planning, and integrated land and
water governance
• Sustainable urban development
Reduced crop productivity
associated with heat and
drought stress, with strong
adverse effects on regional,
national and household
livelihood and food security,
also given increased pest
and disease damage and
flood impacts on food
system infrastructure (high
• Technological adaptation
responses (e.g. stress-tolerant crop
varieties, irrigation, enhanced
observation systems)
• Enhancing smallholder access to
credit and other critical production
resources, diversifying livelihoods
• Strengthening institutions at local,
national and regional levels to
support agriculture (including early
warning systems) and genderorientated
• Agronomic adaptation
responses (e.g. agroforestry,
conservation agriculture)
Changes in the incidence and
geographic range of vectorand
water-borne diseases
due to changes in the mean
and variability of temperature
and precipitation, particularly
along the edges of their
distribution (medium
• Achieving development goals,
particularly improved access to safe
water and improved sanitation,
and enhancement of public health
functions such as surveillance
• Vulnerability mapping and early
warning systems
• Coordination across sectors
• Sustainable urban development
Figure 6: Adaptation
can reduce risk
Climatic factors
Drought Average
Level of risk and potential for adaptation
Risk level with
high adaptation
Risk level with
current adaptation
Potential for additional adaptation to reduce risk
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 27
Adaptation is fundamentally
about risk management 5
Even with significant adaptation and only 2°C warming
by the end of the 21st century, the risks to Africa from
climate change could be high. Development planning
and practice must reflect the reality of the changing
climate and the uncertainty it brings. Placing risk
management at the heart of decision-making will help
Africa cope with climate change.
5.1. Short- and long-term approaches to
climate risk management are needed
In Africa, the primary concern is adapting to the negative
impacts of climate change. This means taking both shortand
long-term approaches to managing climate risks. In the
short term, integrating climate adaptation and disaster risk
reduction will help withstand shocks to human security and
economic development from which recovery can be costly.
African governments, businesses and communities can do
much to anticipate and reduce risk, rather than reacting
after impacts have occurred. Support for effective disaster
relief and recovery needs to continue, along with proactive
efforts to reduce risk, such as integrating comprehensive
risk assessments and risk reduction measures into national
economic and development policy.
“Development planning and
practice must reflect the reality
of the changing climate.”76
In the longer term, governments, businesses and
communities need not only to prepare for the kinds of
climate impacts experienced up to now but also for different
and more intense climate impacts and extreme events
in the future. Measures may include providing adequate
housing, infrastructure or services, or mainstreaming climate
change into planning processes (see Table 1).
There are good reasons to start now in the process of
adapting to these longer-term risks. The IPCC cautions
against overemphasising short-term outcomes or
insufficiently anticipating consequences.77 Given that
climate change cuts across sectoral boundaries, poorly
conceived development programmes or sector-specific
adaptation strategies could lower resilience in other sectors
or ecosystems. Some development pathways, like rapid
urbanisation of coastal zones, can increase the vulnerability
of certain groups to future climate change – known as
‘maladaptation’. This is a particular challenge for Africa
where economies are growing rapidly and societies are
undergoing significant demographic shifts.78
More ‘transformational’ changes may be needed in
situations where there are high levels of vulnerability and
low capacity to adapt, as is often the case in Africa.79 Such
adaptations entail major economic, social, technological
and political decisions and actions, rather than incremental
changes to existing structures and processes, involving
for example changing agricultural practices, integrating
climate change into education, providing useful climate
services, diversifying livelihoods or introducing social and
technical innovations (see Table 1). Recent success stories
from smallholder systems in Africa illustrate the potential for
transforming degraded agricultural landscapes into more
productive and sustainable systems by integrating trees into
annual cropping systems.80 However, it should be noted
that transformational adaptation can result in both positive
and negative outcomes. The level of investment and/or
shift in fundamental values and expectations required for
transformational change may create resistance.81
5.2. Options to reduce climate risks will
be nationally and locally specific
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to adaptation. The
IPCC stresses that no one single adaptation strategy will
meet the needs of all communities and contexts in Africa.82
Moreover, the characteristics of a community or society’s
capacity to adapt to climate change will differ from place to
place, and depend largely on specific contexts. A range of
actions that address underlying vulnerabilities, implement
specific adaptation measures and instigate transformations
may be necessary to reduce climate risks.83
There are challenges to adaptation. First, African countries
lack climate data and information, which creates difficulties
in assessing the overall risks and vulnerabilities triggered by
climatic and non-climatic factors.84 Data and information
are vital for countries to develop robust climate-resilient
strategies and policies, and national and sectoral
development plans. In some cases, adaptation may require
additional resources in terms of funding, skills and capacity
beyond ‘business as usual’ development.
28 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Second, development planning tends to take place at a
national scale and so may not take account of the impacts
of climate change and variability in particular localities.85
National policies can inadvertently disregard or undermine
cultural, traditional and context-specific practices that
support local adaptation to climate change.86
Third, interventions need to cross sectors. The crosssectoral
approach requires institutional integration and
collaboration. The practice of working across sectors in
Africa, and indeed in many parts of the world, does not
come naturally, as it challenges entrenched institutional
and sectoral behaviours. Overall, African countries’ adaptive
capacity and institutional frameworks to manage complex
social and ecological change, especially at local government
level, need strengthening.87
Risk assessment must be
comprehensive so that
development programmes and
adaptation strategies in one
sector do not lower climate
resilience in another.88
Image: Panos | Agriculture, Niger
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 29
Poverty and other factors mean African societies’
capacity to adapt to climate change is low – but
development efforts can address this. In all African
regions, national governments are putting in place
systems for adapting and responding to climate
change. Evolving institutions are working to coordinate
the range of adaptation initiatives underway
although they are not yet able to do so effectively
(high confidence). Countries have made progress on
national and subnational policies and strategies, and
have begun mainstreaming adaptation into sectoral
planning. There are encouraging experiences in
Mozambique, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania.
6.1. National Adaptation Plans of Action
and other national adaptation policies
are emerging in Africa
Regional, national and subnational bodies in Africa have
made progress in developing policy, planning and building
institutions for adapting to climate change. African
governments have developed National Climate Change
Response Strategies or, in least developed countries,
National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs).
Implementation and integration of climate resilient
approaches with economic and development planning is
limited but growing (high confidence). Adaptation measures
in the action plans tend to focus on agriculture, food
security, water resources, forestry and disaster management,
and on projects, technical solutions, education and capacity
As yet, there is little integration of NAPAs with economic
planning and poverty reduction policy processes. Only a
few NAPA activities have been funded to date, although
more funding is in the pipeline. Regional and transboundary
policies and strategies for adaptation are still in their infancy.
The Southern African Development Community and the
Lake Victoria Basin Committee are forerunners in developing
climate-change strategies and action plans.
Following the NAPAs and early experience with National
Climate Change Response Strategies, there is some evidence
that adaptation planning is evolving to become more
integrated, multi-level and multi-sector (medium confidence).
Ethiopia’s Programme of Adaptation to Climate Change,
for example, covers sectoral, regional, national and local
community issues. Mali integrates adaptation into many
sectors. Mainstreaming initiatives, like the twenty-country
Africa Adaptation Programme, launched in 2008, foster
cross-sectoral adaptation planning and risk management.
National climate-resilient development strategies include
Rwanda’s National Strategy on Climate Change and Low
Carbon Development. Niger, Zambia and Mozambique are
involved in the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience; and,
Zambia’s Sixth National Development Plan 2011–2015 and
the new Economic and Social Investment Plan in Niger
reflect some integration of climate resilience measures in
national development plans.
Inter-sectoral climate risk management approaches are
emerging in integrated water resources management,
integrated coastal zone management, disaster risk reduction
and land-use planning. In South Africa, design principles
for climate change have been incorporated into existing
biodiversity planning to guide land use.
In some African countries, the commitment to climate
adaptation is reflected in broader policy frameworks, such
as Namibia’s National Policy on Climate Change, Zambia’s
National Climate Change Response Strategy and Policy,
and South Africa’s National Climate Change Response
Policy White Paper. Lesotho’s coordinated policy framework
involves all ministries and stakeholders. Ten countries were
developing new climate-change laws or formal policies
in 2012. Gabon, for example, proposed a National Coastal
Adaptation Law.
6.2. National and subnational levels must
be linked effectively
Since the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, African countries
have advanced subnational adaptation planning, but
provincial and municipal authorities are mostly still
developing adaptation strategies. Many local governments
lack the capacity and resources for decentralised
adaptation (high confidence). In Nigeria, Lagos State has
a 2012 Adaptation Strategy. Ghana has mainstreamed
adaptation into district development plans and Morocco has
community climate resilience plans. Promising approaches
for subnational strategies integrate adaptation and
mitigation for low-carbon climate-resilient development,
as in Delta State in Nigeria, and elsewhere. Many cities and
Adaptation experience
in Africa is growing 6
30 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
towns, including Lagos, Cape Town and Durban are building
capacity. Notable examples are the specialised local
government unit to implement climate change in Maputo,
Mozambique, initiatives in ecosystem-based adaptation
and improving city wetlands, and participatory skills
development in integrating community-based disaster risk
reduction and climate adaptation into local development
planning in Ethiopia.
There is a pattern emerging in Africa for decision-making on
adaptation, whereby there is limited inclusive governance
at national level but greater involvement of vulnerable and
exposed people in assessing and choosing adaptation
responses at local level (high confidence). African leaders on
climate change will be crucial in providing a wider political
space for civil society institutions and communities in
decision-making for adaptation, and in managing scientific
evidence, projections and uncertainties within projections.
Tools that have been used in adaptation planning in Africa
and that can be developed and taken further include
assessing vulnerability, assessing risks, analysing costs and
benefits, cost-effectiveness, multi-criteria analysis and
participatory scenario planning. Monitoring and assessing
adaptation is still relatively new in Africa. Few countries
have national coordinating systems for collating data and
synthesising lessons. Methods for assessing adaptation at
local and regional levels, however, have been developed
and there are positive examples of monitoring adaptation
at project level.
Many studies show that under uncertain climatic futures,
replacing hierarchical governance systems that operate
within silos with more adaptive, integrated, multi-level,
flexible governance approaches enhances adaptive
capacity and the effectiveness of adaptation responses.
Image: istockphoto l Tea plantation, Rwanda
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 31
Box 7: Diversifying livelihoods
African households have long had several strings to their
bow to cope with climate shocks. This recourse to diverse
activities spreads risk and builds resilience for long-term
climate change. Over the past 20 years, households in the
Sahel that have diversified, particularly those that have
diversified out of agriculture, have become less vulnerable
and better off. In the Okavango Delta, Botswana,
households are diversifying because of flooding. Schemes
such as private and public insurance could help fishing
communities in such areas rebuild after extreme events.
Providing education and skills training would open up
enable broader choices when fishing is no longer viable.
Migration for work and remittances are established and
important ways of lessening risk to climatic variability and
other stresses, and recovering from climatic shocks. While
diversification is an important adaptation strategy, new
on-farm or specialised activities may replace formerly
sustainable practices with negative results.
African leaders have a crucial
role to play in providing a wider
political space for civil society
institutions and communities in
decision-making for adaptation.
Regional institutions that focus
on specific ecosystems, such
as the Commission of Central
African Forests, present an
opportunity to strengthen
the institutional framework
for adaptation.
Box 8: The economics of climate adaptation89
Trade-offs: Where there are limited resources, adaptation
choices will mean trade-offs among multiple policy goals (high
confidence). Economics can offer valuable insights into these
trade-offs and into the wider consequences of adaptation.
Evaluating and managing risk: Economic analyses are moving
away from an emphasis on efficiency, market solutions, costs
and benefits towards including consideration of non-monetary
and non-market risks, inequities, barriers and limits. A narrow
focus on costs and benefits can bias decisions against the
poor and against ecosystems, and result in maladaptation.
Risk-based approaches assess the potential opportunities,
constraints and limits in adapting human and natural systems
(high agreement, medium evidence). Risk management puts the
consequences of climate change and adaptation in the context
of values, objectives and planning horizons.
Effective areas for public expenditure: Public policies
important for fostering adaptation include direct funding
for technological research and development, environmental
regulation, economic instruments and education. By providing
direct and indirect incentives for anticipating and reducing the
impacts of climate change, governments could reduce costs to
the public purse.
Role of micro-finance: Finance and micro-credit schemes can
provide rural communities with the means to adapt. Women
taking part in these kinds of schemes build resilience. As well
as credit, access to food storage on or off farm, means that
families do not have to sell assets to buy food during lean
periods but can store assets to sell when market prices are
higher. In some parts of Africa, for example the Sudo-Sahelian
region of West Africa, there is evidence that migration and
trade, as opposed to subsistence agriculture, are important
livelihood strategies.90
Public-private partnerships: Both private and public sectors
have roles to play in developing and implementing adaptation
measures (high confidence). The private sector alone often will
not provide a desirable level of adaptation due to the costs,
incentives and resource requirements of some types of action.
This means the public sector will have to play a strong role
to overcome barriers, develop technologies, and represent
current and future equity concerns. Governments could further
explore economic tools as a means to advance adaptation.
Incentives to encourage adaptation in the private sector
include sharing and transferring risk (e.g. insurance), loans,
public-private financial partnerships, payments for ecosystem
services, resource pricing (e.g. water markets), charges and
subsidies (e.g. taxes), norms and regulations, and incentives
to modify behaviour. These kinds of incentives offer useful
possibilities but are tricky to implement effectively, especially
in developing countries.
32 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
This less hierarchical approach shows that inclusive decisionmaking
– adaptive governance and co-management – can
operate successfully across multiple scales. Despite some
progress on developing institutional frameworks for
governing adaptation, there are significant problems with
coordination and duplication, for disaster risk reduction for
example. In fragile states, institutions for reducing climate
risk and promoting adaptation may be extremely weak or
almost non-existent. Linking institutions and coordinating
responses across government, the private sector and
civil society could enhance adaptive capacity. Resolving
institutional challenges in natural resource management,
including lack of coordination, monitoring and enforcement,
would be a big step towards more effective climate
governance. For example, it is critically important to develop
organisational frameworks and strengthen institutional
capacities for assessing and managing groundwater
resources over the long term.
Global institutions, both within and outside the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC), are critically important for Africa to move
forward on adaptation. Regional institutions that focus on
specific ecosystems, such as the Commission of Central
African Forests, present an opportunity to strengthen the
institutional framework for adaptation. National frameworks
include institutions that cover all aspects of climate change,
inter-ministerial coordinating bodies and institutions to
manage climate finance.
6.3. African countries are developing
specific strategies for managing
climate disaster risk
Strategies to offset the risks associated with natural hazards
to households, communities and economies include: early
warning systems, schemes to transfer risk, social safety
nets, budget contingency funds for disasters, diversifying
livelihoods and migration.
National and local authorities are putting in place disaster
risk reduction plans. There is also growing recognition of
the synergies between disaster risk reduction and
adaptation to climate change, although the focus is not
yet on reducing vulnerability in the longer term.91 Safety
nets and social protection schemes for food security and
nutrition can reinforce each other, promoting disaster risk
reduction and adaptation.
Measures to reduce the risk of disasters at the community
level tend to link food security, household resilience,
environmental conservation, asset creation, infrastructure
development and other benefits. Safety nets and social
protection schemes for food security and nutrition can
reinforce each other, promoting disaster risk reduction
and adaptation. Uganda’s Karamoja Productive Assets
Programme is a good example. Programmes in Kenya, South
Africa, Swaziland and Tanzania have also deployed local
and traditional knowledge in preparing for disasters and
managing risk. Donors have opportunities to learn lessons
in building resilience from the 2011 famine in Somalia.
Ways to finance measures to reduce the risk of disasters
could include contingency funds, agricultural and property
insurance, sovereign insurance, reallocating programme
expenditures, weather derivatives and bonds.
Early warning systems: Capacity to assess and monitor risks
has grown. As a result, early warning systems are emerging.
Regional systems such as the Permanent Inter-States
Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the
Famine Early Warning System Network, and other national,
local and community-based systems warn farmers and
communities of potential crises. Some take a gendered
approach, and may incorporate local knowledge systems for
making decisions about farming and livestock, as in Kenya.
Assessing vulnerability: Participatory vulnerability
assessment or screening to design adaptation strategies is
common in projects. However, vulnerability assessment at
local government level is often lacking, and assessments to
develop national adaptation plans and strategies have not
always been participatory.
Social protection: Social protection is a key element of the
African Union social policy framework. Ethiopia, Rwanda,
Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and other countries have
social protection schemes that build assets and increase the
resilience of chronically and transiently poor households.
In some cases, such as Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net
Programme, social protection goes beyond immediate relief
and addresses slow-onset climate impacts. Social protection
helps reduce risks both before and after disasters and
will become more important should the climate become
more variable. There is less evidence that social protection
is effective in reducing the risks associated with extreme
climatic shocks projected for high-emissions scenarios.
In high-emissions scenarios livelihoods would have to be
less dependent on climate-sensitive activities. A better
understanding of the structural causes of poverty, including
political and institutional dimensions, would help in building
adaptive capacity into social protection.
Social protection helps reduce
risks both before and after
disasters and will become more
important should the climate
become more variable.
Insurance: Family networks, community funds, and disaster
relief and insurance provide help when there are droughts,
floods and tropical cyclones, and concurrently reduce
poverty and enhance adaptive capacity. Index-based
insurance (Box 10) pays out in circumstances that could
cause loss.
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 33
6.4. Africa faces barriers to climate
adaptation – but has strategies to
address the barriers
Growing understanding of the multiple interlinked
constraints to increasing adaptive capacity is beginning
to point to potential limits to adaptation in Africa
(medium confidence). Changes in climate, together with
environmental, social, political and technological changes,
may overwhelm the ability of communities to cope and
adapt, particularly in cases where the root causes of
poverty and vulnerability are neglected. A growing body
of evidence suggests that flexible, diverse development
paths designed to reduce vulnerability, spread risk and build
adaptive capacity can be effective. These paths put climate
resilience, ecosystem stability, equity and justice at the
centre of development efforts.
Funding, and technology
transfer and support are
needed to improve on the
current level of adaptation
in Africa, and to protect rural
and urban livelihoods, societies
and economies from climate
change impacts.
Addressing climate risk, building adaptive capacity and
implementing robust adaptation strategies requires
significant financial resources, technological support
and investment in developing institutions and capacity
(high confidence). Funding, and technology transfer and
support are needed to improve on the current level
of adaptation in Africa, and to protect rural and urban
livelihoods, societies and economies from climate-change
impacts. Strengthening institutional capacities and
governance mechanisms will enhance the ability of national
governments and scientific institutions in Africa to absorb
and effectively manage funds allocated for adaptation
and ensure that adaptation initiatives are effective (medium
While economic plans are beginning to mainstream climate
resilience, national planning documents often promote
foreign direct investment and industrial competitiveness
without putting in place measures to ensure that the
ensuing activities support, rather than harm, the capacity
of poor people to adapt. Poorly regulated business
environments can impede foreign direct investment in
their own right – but can also undermine climate resilience.
Stakeholders in climate-sensitive sectors, for example
Botswana’s tourism industry, have yet to develop and
implement adaptation strategies.
Box 9: Challenges in reducing the risk
of disasters
The challenges in translating early warning into early
action include political and institutional barriers in:
• Communicating information that is useful, and at
appropriate scales;
• Communicating in local languages;
• Communicating in remote areas;
• Perception at national level that data collected locally
is manipulated to leverage relief resources;
• Capacity of national meteorological centres; and
• Links between early warning, response and prevention.
Box 10: The value of index-based
weather insurance
Malawi: Malawi’s experience in piloting index-based
weather insurance against drought for smallholders is
promising. In the first year, 892 farmers bought insurance
as part of a bundle that included a loan for inputs for
groundnut production. The following year, the scheme
took in maize farmers, bringing the total to 1,710 and
stimulating interest among banks, financiers, processing
and trading companies, and input suppliers.
Ethiopia: A pilot insurance project in Ethiopia pays
claims based on the time lapse between lack of rain and
actual losses. Farmers with this insurance do not need
to sell assets to buy food, and can thus continue to farm
in subsequent seasons, thereby lessening demand for
humanitarian aid. Another insurance-for-work programme
allows cash-poor farmers to pay insurance premiums
in-kind by working on community projects, such as
managing soil and improving irrigation, to reduce the
risks of disasters. This kind of scheme means the most
marginalised and resource-poor can afford insurance.
34 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Africa has contributed little to historic greenhouse gas
emissions. This means there is a tendency to think that
Africa’s priority lies in adaptation. However, this is a
false direction to take. Effective climate policies can
help protect development assets by building adaptive
capacities, while at the same time, mobilising social
and financial investments towards cost-effective
mitigation technologies. The essence of climate-resilient
development is to bring about holistic approaches to
development and capitalise on new technical (and
institutional) innovations. As they grow their economies
and meet pressing development needs, there are
abundant opportunities for African countries to adopt
clean, efficient low-carbon technologies and measures
directly. What is more, African decision-makers can
make the most of climate adaptation, mitigation and
development co-benefits while managing the tradeoffs.
The IPCC provides decision-makers with guidance
for identifying the complementarities between – and
managing the trade-offs among – climate adaptation,
mitigation and development objectives.
7.1. Africa has low levels of historic
In order to limit climate change, the world as a whole
must act swiftly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions –
and to sustain these reductions over time. The vast majority
of African countries have contributed very little to historic
Most cumulative CO2 emissions 1970–2010 were from the
member states (as of 1990) of the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD 50% of cumulative
CO2 emissions), followed by transition countries (20%),
and Asia (15%), while the remainder were from non-OECD
African and Latin American countries (Figure 7).
In the Fifth Assessment Report, regional data for Africa is
bundled together with the Middle East for 1970–2010; in
this larger region (which extends beyond typical definitions
of Africa) greenhouse gas emissions are rising inexorably.
This region’s emissions are the second lowest by volume
globally but from 2000–2010 grew at the second highest
rate after Asia.
Fossil fuel use: Most of the increase in emissions in the
Middle East and Africa stems from an increase in the use of
fossil fuel resulting from population and economic growth.
Population and economic growth have a strong cumulative
effect on emissions and counteract improvements in energy
intensity – the ratio of energy per unit of gross domestic
product – and per capita energy use.
Population: A key driver for the increase in emissions from
the Middle East and Africa has been population growth.
Between 1971 and 2010, population growth rates in the
region were the highest in the world. However, although
emissions in this region have increased because of the
increase in the total number of people, per capita emissions
have declined slightly.
Urbanisation: Urbanisation also shapes emissions. Urban
populations are responsible for more emissions than rural
populations. Global urbanisation rates rose from 36%
in 1970 to 52% in 2011. However, the relationship between
urbanisation and emissions is complex and affected
by economic factors, technologies and energy, as well
growth patterns.
Population structure and household size: Overall, the
effects on emissions of household size and age distribution
within the population are not clear. The Fifth Assessment
Report concludes that, overall, older populations, smaller
households and urbanisation use more energy and
cause more emissions than younger populations, larger
households and non-urbanising societies.
Economic growth: Economic growth has also contributed
to rising emissions from the Middle East and Africa. Research
suggests a strong, historic, positive correlation between
growth in gross domestic production and growth in CO2
emissions. Per capita emissions correlate positively with per
capita income. However, per capita emissions have declined
in nearly all regions, including in the Middle East and Africa.
In sub-Saharan Africa, per capita emissions have declined
from 11.9 kt CO2 eq (kilotonne CO2 equivalent) in 1970 to
4.6 kt CO2 eq in 2010 – a decrease of 61.3% with an average
decade-on-decade decline of 20% in per capita emissions.
Between 1970 and 2010, gross domestic production per
capita increased and emissions per capita decreased. This
contradiction suggests that various factors may affect the
link between the growth in gross domestic production and
growth in emissions. How a country grows may determine
its level of emissions (i.e. certain developing countries now
7 Low-emissions development
offers opportunities for Africa
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 35
Figure 7: Cumulative
CO2 emissions 1970–
2010 by source92
The data presented in section 7 follows the IPCC
method and combines data from Sub-Saharan
and Middle East and North African countries,
defined as follows:
SSA (Sub-Saharan Africa): Angola, Benin, Botswana,
Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic,
Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Congo
(The Democratic Republic of the), Cote d’Ivoire,
Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon,
Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya,
Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania,
Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger,
Nigeria, Reunion, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Sao Tome
and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone,
Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo,
Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
MNA (Middle East and North Africa): Algeria,
Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait,
Lebanon, Lybia, Morocco, Palestinian Territory,
Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan,
Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates,
Western Sahara, Yemen
OECD members (as of 1990)
Non-OECD African and Latin
American countries
Transition countries
Asian Countries
Box 11: Africa’s role in the global emissions landscape93
In 2010, governmental Parties to the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) made the ’Cancun
Pledges’. The pledges specified a long-term global goal
of limiting global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial
temperatures, and considered revising this to 1.5°C. The IPCC’s
Fifth Assessment Report finds that the Cancun Pledges fall short
of what is needed to limit emissions to achieve these goals.
Here lies an uncomfortable paradox for Africa. For large areas of
Africa, average temperatures could exceed 2oC by 2050 and rise
by as much as 2.6–4.8oC by the end of the century (under the
medium- and high-emissions scenarios presented by the IPCC).
Africa’s historic contribution to the build-up of greenhouse gas
emissions is small, and yet the cost of climate change on the
region’s ecosystems and human wellbeing is and will continue
to be significant.
The IPCC also finds that mitigation efforts and the costs of
mitigation vary between countries; developing countries
have a significant proportion of the opportunities for low-cost
mitigation. As such, African countries can play a role in global
climate stabilisation efforts by taking advantage of low-carbon
options where it is advantageous to do so, thereby avoiding
future emissions. For example, there are opportunities to
reduce deforestation by adopting sustainable practices, to
plan innovative low-carbon towns and cities, and to develop
land-use schemes that intensify agricultural practices and
sustainably manage livestock. Such actions can bring large
co-benefits beyond reducing the impacts of climate change.
Ethiopia’s Climate-Resilient Green Economy strategy is a good
example of an emerging vision in Africa on meeting multiple
development goals while contributing to the global effort
to mitigate climate change. However, it is also important
to recognise that significant effort-sharing and substantial
financial flows will be required to support mitigation actions
in Africa.
The Fifth Assessment Report makes explicit that, because the
atmosphere is a global commons, effective mitigation will
not be achieved if individual countries advance their own
interests independently. International cooperation is essential
to effectively mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and address
other climate change issues such as building resilience and
capacity development in regions such as Africa.
36 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
use cleaner and more efficient productive technologies
that increase productivity but also drive down emissions).
The Fifth Assessment Report indicates that although
economic growth could increase emissions, where cleaner
technological change drives growth, then emissions could
actually decrease.
Energy per capita: At the global level, energy use per
capita increased by 31% overall between 1971 and 2010, but
varied by region. Use of energy in transition economies and
OECD90 countries rose by 14%. In other regions, the increase
was much more dramatic. In the Middle East and Africa,
per capita energy use increased by 90%, although
per capita energy use is much lower than in OECD90 and
transition countries.
Energy intensity: In the Middle East and Africa, energy
intensity – the ratio of energy per unit of gross domestic
product – is low, but has risen significantly in the last few
decades. Energy intensity has fallen in the last decade but not
enough to offset the overall increase in emissions because
of the growth in gross domestic production. The relationship
between the use of energy and gross domestic product
is complicated, nevertheless, as incomes rise so the use of
energy rises. Both rising incomes and larger populations
contributed to the increase in global emissions between
1970 and 2010, including emissions from this region.
7.2. The IPCC maps future scenarios for
African emissions
The mid-term scenarios to 2030 (Table 2) assume either
stringent reductions in CO2 to 430–530 CO2 ppm (parts per
million) equivalent (66% likely to keep temperature increases
below 2°C by 2100) or slightly less stringent reductions in
CO2 to 530–650 CO2 ppm equivalent (less likely to keep
temperature increases below 2°C). In the more stringent
mid-term scenario, emissions will peak in the Middle East
and Africa by 2030 and there would be an 8% reduction in
emissions. In the less stringent scenario, emissions peak by
2040 but emissions would increase by 22% by 2030.
7.3. Africa can capture the opportunities
and manage the risks of low-carbon
A fundamental issue for sustainable development is to avoid
the negative social and environmental effects of climate
change. However, climate change is only one issue that
developing countries face. Other issues include providing
the poor with reliable cheap energy and employment,
limiting pollution and providing clean safe water.
A government policy or a measure intended to achieve
one climate change objective (such as mitigation) will also
affect other environment and development objectives
(such as local air quality). Or, seen from a ‘development
first’ perspective in Africa, where so much development
infrastructure is still to be built in the years ahead, there
are particular opportunities to invest in infrastructure and
adopt development practices that are low-carbon from the
outset, rather than polluting and fossil fuel-dependent. To
the extent these side effects of climate policies are positive,
they can be deemed ‘co-benefits’; but sometimes they are
negative, or ‘adverse side effects’.
Mitigation can have many potential co-benefits and adverse
side effects, which makes comprehensive analysis difficult.
The direct benefits of climate policy include, for example,
intended effects on global mean surface temperature, sealevel
rise, agricultural productivity, biodiversity and health
of global warming. The co-benefits and adverse side
effects of climate policy could include effects on a partly
overlapping set of objectives such as local air pollutant
emissions and related health and environmental impacts,
energy security, income distribution, efficiency of taxation,
labour supply and employment, urban sprawl, and the
sustainability of developing countries’ growth. All these side
effects, positive and negative, are important, as evaluating
climate policies must look at the full picture, including all
aspects of social welfare.
The IPCC’s overall message is that mitigation involves both
benefits and risks to development and that careful planning
Scenario: 430–530 CO2 ppm equivalent
OECD countries as of 1990 Asia Latin America Middle East & Africa
Peak year 2020 2030 2025 2030
Emission changes by 2030
compared to 2010
-32% 1% -35% -8%
Scenario: 530–650 CO2 ppm equivalent
OECD countries as of 1990 Asia Latin America Middle East & Africa
Peak year 2025 2040 2030 2040
Emission changes by 2030
compared to 2010
-14% 34% -9% 22%
Table 2: Mid-term scenarios
for African emissions94
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 37
for and management of any down-side risks is necessary.
The Fifth Assessment Report does not weigh up the risks
and benefits because they are difficult to quantify and
compare, and because different countries have different
opportunities and development objectives. The Fifth
Assessment Report finds that mitigation policies have more
co-benefits than risks.
Because much of the urban
space in Africa is yet to be
developed, urban adaptation
provides opportunities
for incremental and
transformational adjustments
towards resilient and
sustainable systems.95
7.4. Policy options for mitigation are wideranging
Understanding how the mitigation options set out in the
Fifth Assessment Report could inform policy making in Africa
is not simple. The mitigation options proposed by the IPCC
are generalised for a global audience. The Fifth Assessment
Report recommends policy options that could facilitate
mitigation in three main categories: fiscal, regulatory
and legal.
Fiscal policies deal with taxes and subsidies. These policies
either put a cost on emissions (and their causes) or pay for
avoided or reduced emissions (either directly or indirectly).
Fiscal policies have effects that may not be obvious when
first implemented, for example fiscal incentives to produce
biofuels could lower food production and taxes on carbon
could shift production to regions where carbon taxes are
more lenient.
Regulatory policies limit what can be done in particular
areas. For example, in the agricultural sector, regulations
could apply to deforestation or biofuel targets, and in
the energy sector to national renewable energy targets.
Regulatory policies can affect other sectors and mitigation
effects. For example, improving the energy efficiency of
batteries may reduce transport emissions but producing
them could increase manufacturing emissions and the use
of material resources.
Legal frameworks provide governance – clarity,
transparency, enforceability – for mitigation and how
they operate determines the effectiveness of mitigation.
In order to implement mitigation policies, laws need to
be passed that facilitate or mandate mitigation measures
and also ensure that mitigation measures are properly
implemented, for example by enforcing afforestation
regulations or energy-efficiency targets. Institutions need to
have the capacity to create and implement appropriate legal
frameworks, and judicial systems need to have the strength
and independence to approve and enforce legal systems.
The Fifth Assessment Report stresses the importance of
synergies among policies. Mitigation policy is not the be-alland-
end-all. Countries have other development objectives
to consider. Mitigation policies could either benefit their
development objectives or hinder them.
Industrial policy governs the development and growth
of manufacturing. The amount of emissions from
manufacturing and growth in the sector depend on
the mix of goods produced. Policies to mitigate industrial
emissions have been shown to have limited risks and
multiple co-benefits. However, policies that encourage
production of goods which require limited materials or
limited energy to produce could still create more emissions
if the goods have greater life-cycle emissions than goods
requiring more materials or more energy. Understanding
which goods provide the best compromise between
positive development and emissions is important.
Emphasising one aspect over the other could lead to
either negative environmental outcomes or negative
developmental outcomes.
Land and food policies determine the use of agricultural
land (food or biofuel) and natural resources (conservation or
use). As with most policies, balancing potentially conflicting
objectives means clearly assessing where most long-term
benefits lie.
Information campaigns on various aspects of mitigation, for
example energy efficiency, the benefits of waste recycling,
using less water or less energy-intensive transport systems
(public transport) can reduce risks and enhance positive
co-benefits. Providing information can also help people
understand long-term perspectives and accept risks.
Renewable energy technologies
have demonstrated substantial
performance improvements and
cost reductions.96
International policies can play a role in reducing emissions.
Examples are regional carbon trading schemes such as
the European Union Emission Trading Scheme, emissions
reduction schemes such as the Clean Development
Mechanism, access to international climate finance such as
the Green Climate Fund and emission avoidance systems such
as the United Nations reducing emissions from deforestation
and degradation (REDD+) programme. Countries that meet
eligibility criteria can access these programmes for help in
reducing the cost of mitigating emissions.
38 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Table 3: Summary of mitigation options across sectors,
from the Fifth Assessment Report97
The IPCC finds that systemic and cross-sectoral approaches
to climate mitigation are expected to be more cost-efficient
and more effective in cutting emissions than sector-by-sector
policies. That is because there are inter-dependencies among
sectors in a real, physical sense. In addition, many lowcarbon
energy supply technologies and their infrastructure
requirements – as well as the adoption of the new technologies
themselves – depend largely on public acceptance. This
element of public acceptance or social psychology is another
reason why efforts to embrace low-carbon technologies in one
sector could have effects in other sectors. Until now, sectorspecific
policies have been more widely used than economywide,
market based policies (and so the evidence still needs to
be captured on how successful those economy-wide climate
mitigation efforts will be). The following table presents a range
of sector-specific policies that have been implemented.
Policy instruments Energy Transport Buildings Economic instruments – taxes (carbon
taxes may be economy-wide)
• Carbon tax (e.g. applied to electricity
or fuels)
• Fuel taxes
• Congestion charges, vehicle
registration fees, road tolls
• Vehicle taxes
• Carbon and/or energy taxes (either
sectoral or economy-wide)
Economic instruments – tradable
allowances (may be economy-wide)
• Emission trading
• Emission credit under CDM
• Tradable Green Certificates
• Fuel and vehicle standards • Tradable certificates for energy
efficiency improvements (white
Economic instruments – subsidies • Fossil fuel subsidy removal
• Feed-in tariffs for renewable energy
• Biofuel subsidies
• Vehicle purchase subsidies
• Feebates
• A fee on inefficient technology and a
rebate on efficient vehicles
• Subsidies or tax exemptions for
investment in efficient buildings,
retrofits and products
• Subsidized loans
Regulatory approaches • Efficiency of environmental
performance standards
• Renewable portfolio standards for
renewable energy
• Fuel economy performance
• Fuel quality standards
• Greenhose gas emission
performance standards
• Regulatory restrictions to encourage
modal shifts (road to rail)
• Restriction on use of vehicles in
certain areas
• Environmental capacity constraints
on airports
• Urban planning and zoning
• Building codes and standards
• Equipment and appliance standards
• Mandates for energy retailers to
assist customers invest in energy
Information programmes • Fuel labelling
• Vehicle efficiency labeling
• Energy audits
• Labeling programmes
• Energy advice programmes
Government provision of public goods
or services
• Investment in transit and human
powered transport
• Investment in alternative fuel
• Low-emission vehicle procurement
• Public procurement of efficient
buildings and appliances
Voluntary actions • Voluntary agreements • Labeling programmes for efficient
• Product eco-labeling
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 39
Industry AFOLU (agriculture, forestry and other
land uses)
Human settlements and infrastructure
• Carbon tax or energy tax
• Waste disposal taxes or charges
• Fertiliser or nitrogen taxes to reduce nitrous oxide • Sprawl taxes, impact fees, exactions splitrate
property taxes, tax increment finance,
betterment taxes, congestion charges
• Emission trading
• Emission credit under Clean Development
Mechanism (CDM)
• Tradable Green Certificates
• Emissions credits under CDM (Adam)
• Compliance schemes outside Kyoto Protocol
(national schemes)
• Voluntary carbon markets
• Urban-scale cap-and-trade scheme
for emissions
• Subsidies (e.g. for energy audits)
• Fiscal incentives (e.g. for fuel switching)
• Credit lines for low-carbon agriculture,
sustainable forestry
• Special Improvement of Redevelopment
• Energy efficiency standards for equipment
• Energy management systems (also voluntary)
• Voluntary agreements (where bound
by regulation)
• Labeling and public procurement regulations
• National policies to support REDD+ including
monitoring, reporting and verification
• Forest law to reduce deforestation
• Air and water pollution control greenhouse
gas precursors
• Land-use planning and governance
• Mixed use zoning
• Development restrictions
• Affordable housing mandates
• Site access controls
• Transfer development rights
• Design codes
• Building codes
• Street codes
• Design standards
• Energy audits
• Benchmarking
• Brokerage for industrial cooperation
• Certification schemes for sustainable forest
• Information policies to support REDD+ including
monitoring, reporting and verification
• Training and education • Protection of national, state, and local forests
• Investment in improvement and diffusion of
innovative technologies in agriculture and forestry
• Provision of utility infrastructure such as
electricity distribution, district heating/cooling
and wastewater connections, etc
• Park improvements
• Trail improvements
• Urban rail
• Voluntary agreements on energy targets,
adoption of energy management systems, or
resource efficiency
• Promotion of sustainability by developing
standards and educational campaigns
40 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
The policies described above indicate ways to incentivise
reducing emissions and de-incentivise increasing emissions.
Putting other ‘back-end’ policies in place and addressing
other issues support the implementation of mitigation policy.
Efficient and effective policies
balance mitigation and growth,
gain from synergies and
recognise the implications
of the paths taken.
Education and human resources are important. Effectively
implementing mitigation policies and measures depends
on having people with the right skills to do so, and citizens
that accept the risks and benefits. Education systems can
be geared to provide the skills in mitigation technologies
and to teach citizens about climate change and the risks of
climate change.
Population growth is a major driver of emissions in
Africa. Policies could encourage sustainable and equitable
development by, for example, directing growth to areas
where it can be sustained or redirecting urban expansion to
more energy-efficient areas. Assessing and reforming related
policies, such as healthcare, could also promote equitable
and sustainable development.
Institutions may be hampered by limited technical capacity
and limited human resources (staff shortages). Captured
and vested interests may sway decisions. Institutions may
be subject to external or internal pressure from those who
could lose out or gain from mitigation. Other institutional
barriers may be poor coordination (or cooperation)
between institutions, or perceptions of a lack of relevance
to institutions tasked with putting systems to mitigate
emissions in place. Institutional reform could build human
(technical) capacity, remove dis-incentives that promote
inefficiency and strengthen capacity to implement policies.
Access to material resources such as capital (machinery) or
resources (wind to power wind farms or rare earth minerals
to produce solar photovoltaic panels) may not be assured.
Policy-makers can assess whether resources are available
within a country or if they need to be imported, whether
there is capacity to use them, and the costs and benefits of
access to resources. Understanding a country’s natural assets
helps assess its renewable energy potential and potential
to invest in ‘green’ industries.
Governments have multiple policy systems and policy issues
to consider. The most efficient and effective mitigation
options, for Africa and countries worldwide, share similar
traits. Efficient and effective policies balance mitigation
and growth, gain from synergies and understand the
implications of the paths taken.
Image: Panos | Biogas entrepreneur, Kenya
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 41
Opportunities for low-carbon,
climate-resilient development
across sectors
Africa stands to benefit from integrated climate
adaptation, mitigation and development approaches.
The following sections summarise some of the key
opportunities for integrated climate adaptation and
mitigation action assessed in the Fifth Assessment
Report; they present the development benefits, possible
adverse consequences and options for managing the
trade-offs. The IPCC is careful to document the possible
adverse consequences of mitigation actions and to
discuss how they can be managed. Here, we present the
headlines for the agriculture, forestry and fisheries, energy
industry, transport and urban development policy areas.
8.1. Opportunities in the agriculture,
forestry and fisheries sectors
Africa’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries
sectors are vulnerable to climate change
Changes in climate, together with non-climate drivers
and stresses, will exacerbate the vulnerability of African
agricultural systems, particularly in semi-arid areas (high
confidence). By mid-century, Africa will face significant
challenges in adapting agriculture to projected changes in
climate. Rising temperatures and changes in precipitation
are very likely to reduce cereal crop productivity. Without
adaptation, climate change will negatively impact
production of major crops (wheat, rice and maize) under
local temperature increases of 2°C or more, although
individual locations may benefit.
By mid-century, Africa will
face significant challenges
in adapting agriculture to
projected changes in climate.
Changes in the length of growing seasons are possible. The
tendency will be towards shorter growing seasons, though
in some areas the growing seasons may be longer. Farming
systems may change, from mixed crop-livestock systems to
systems dominated by livestock, where growing seasons
for annual crops become shorter and crop failure becomes
more common and frequent. Zones where projections
indicate livestock will replace crops by 2050 include the
West African Sahel, and coastal and mid-altitude areas in
eastern and southeastern Africa, areas that now support
35 million people and are chronically food insecure.
Lower crop productivity due to heat and drought stress
would have strong adverse effects on regional, national
and household food security, also given increased pest
and disease damage and flood impacts on food systems
(high confidence). At present, the risk to crop productivity
is medium and could be lowered through adaptation. In
the near term (2030–2040), the risk is high but could be
reduced to a low level through adaptation. In the long term
(2080–2100), the risk is very high regardless of adaptation
with 4°C warming, and very high with potential to reduce to
a medium risk level through adaptation with 2°C warming.
Studies published since the Fourth Assessment Report confirm
many of its findings, such as lower yields for all crops with
over 3°C of local warming without adaptation and despite
the benefits expected from more rainfall and the fertilising
effect of more carbon dioxide. Relatively few studies have
investigated the impacts on cropping systems for scenarios
where global average temperatures increase by 4°C or more.
The effects of climate change on crop productivity will
alter land-use patterns, both in terms of the total area and
geographic distribution of crops.
New evidence shows that perennial crops with a high
economic value, such as tea, coffee and cocoa, could also
suffer from rises in temperature (medium confidence). Pests,
weeds and diseases are expected to affect crops and
livestock to a greater extent than they do now as a result of
changes in climate and other factors (low confidence). Rapid
urbanisation and increasingly globalised food chains present
new challenges that require a better understanding of the
multiple stresses on food and livelihood security in both
urban and rural Africa.
Floods, drought, shifts in
the timing and amount of
rainfall, and high temperatures
associated with climate change
could directly affect crop and
livestock productivity.
42 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Food security relates to the availability of food, access to
food, and the use and stability of food supplies. There
is strong consensus that climate change will negatively
impact all these aspects of food security in Africa. Floods,
drought, shifts in the timing and amount of rainfall, and
high temperatures associated with climate change could
directly affect crop and livestock productivity. Soil erosion
caused by more frequent heavy storms, and the spread of
pests and diseases affecting crops and livestock caused
by warmer temperatures and other changes in climatic
conditions, could indirectly affect food security. Access to
food could be affected by the impacts of climate change
on productivity in important cereal-producing regions,
which in combination with other factors could raise food
prices and erode the ability of the poor in Africa to buy food.
Extreme events that affect transport and other food system
infrastructure could also threaten access to food. Changes in
climate could affect the use of food by allowing the spread
of diseases that prevent the human body from absorbing
nutrients. Warmer and more humid conditions caused by
climate change could affect the availability and quality of
food as fresh foods may spoil, and pests and pathogens may
damage food in storage (e.g. cereals, pulses, tubers). The
stability of food supplies could be affected by changes in
availability and access linked to climatic and other factors.
Threats to food security in Africa stem from entrenched
poverty, environmental degradation, rapid urbanisation,
rapid population growth, and changes in climate and
climatic variability. Markets and food security have emerged
as important issues since the Fourth Assessment Report. Price
spikes for globally traded food commodities 2007–2008, and
price volatility and higher overall food prices in subsequent
years, have undercut recent gains in food security across
Africa. Among the groups most affected are the urban poor,
who typically spend more than half of their income on food.
Box 12: Projected impacts of climate change on Africa’s farming systems98
Cereal crops: Climate change is very likely to lower yields of
major cereal crops across Africa, although the degree to which
yields will fall will vary significantly across regions. Research
indicates that maize is the crop most vulnerable to climate
change and that yields will drop across Africa. The region most
affected by negative impacts on several important crops,
including maize, is southern Africa. In eastern Africa, however,
maize production may benefit from warming. Most maize
grows at low altitudes so the distribution of maize may change.
In dryland areas of eastern Africa, although projections indicate
more rainfall, research shows crop yields are insensitive to more
rainfall, since more rain is associated with warmer temperatures
and warmer temperatures reduce yields.
Projections indicate that, across Africa, yields of wheat,
sorghum and millet will fall by 2050. In West Africa, warming
above 2°C may counteract the positive effects of more rain
on millet and sorghum yields under a range of scenarios.
The negative effects will be greater in savannah ecosystems
and will affect improved crop varieties more than traditional
varieties. In the Sahel, projections indicate millet yields will fall
significantly under various scenarios.
Non-cereal crops: New research since the Fourth Assessment
Report indicates that changes in climate will have a variable
impact on non-cereal crops; both losses and gains in
productivity are possible (low confidence). In eastern Africa,
assuming that carbon dioxide has a fertilising effect,
projections indicate that cassava yields will increase moderately
up to the 2030s under a range of scenarios. Conditions for
cassava may also improve in central Africa. Across sub-Saharan
Africa, yields of bean will fall significantly with 5°C warming.
In eastern Africa, projections indicate bean yields will decrease
by mid-century. The effects of climate change on peanut
yields are not clear; some research indicates yields will increase
and other research shows it will decrease. In West Africa and
lowland areas of East Africa, banana and plantain productivity
could fall, whereas it could rise in highland areas of East Africa
because of a rise in temperature. Further research will clarify
the impacts on these non-cereal crops.
Perennial crops: Projections indicate that agro-climatic zones
suited to economically important perennial crops will shrink
significantly, largely because of rising temperatures. Under
high-emissions scenarios, agro-climatic zones that are now
very good to good for perennial crops may become marginal.
Zones that are now marginal may become unsuitable by 2050.
In equatorial East Africa, high-altitude zones may become
more suitable for coffee and tea and low altitudes less suitable.
In West Africa, high altitudes may become more suitable for
cocoa and low altitudes less suitable. West Africa may also
become less suitable for cotton and more suitable for cashew.
Livestock: The IPCC highlights that climate change could have
an adverse effect on livestock production in Africa. Rising
temperatures and changes in precipitation will bring more
heat and water stress, and shift the distribution of pests and
diseases. These changes will have adverse effects on pastoral
livelihoods and rural poverty (medium confidence).
Projections indicate that, at present, the risk to livestock
production is medium. Adaptation could reduce the risk level
to low. In the near term (2030–2040), the risk level is high
but could be lowered through adaptation. In the long term
(2080–2100), the risk level is very high regardless of adaptation
with 4°C warming, and very high with potential to reduce to a
medium risk level through adaptation with 2°C warming.
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 43
Projections indicate that northern and southern Africa will
become drier with climate change, a particular concern for
livestock production. Scarcity of water will have both direct
and indirect effects on livestock production. In Botswana, for
example, drier and warmer conditions by 2050 could raise the
cost of pumping drinking water for livestock from boreholes
by as much as 23%.99 Scarcity of water will indirectly affect
livestock because production of feed crops will fall. In East
Africa, the availability of maize leaves and stems for feeding
cattle could decrease by 2050.100
Temperature is an important limiting factor for livestock. Higher
temperatures in lowland Africa could lead farmers to reduce
stocks of dairy cows in favour of cattle, reduce cattle stocks in
favour of sheep and goats, and decrease poultry production.
In highland areas of East Africa, livestock keeping could benefit
from warmer temperatures. In South Africa, dairy yields could
decrease substantially by the mid- to late-21st century.
Pests and diseases: Understanding of how climate change
may affect crop and livestock pests and diseases, and
agricultural weeds has improved since the Fourth Assessment
Report. Interactions between changes in climate and other
environmental and production factors could intensify damage
to crops from pests, weeds and diseases.
In the highlands of eastern Africa, warming could extend the
reach of crop pests into areas where they are currently limited
by cold. For example, the coffee berry borer may spread into
areas that produce arabica coffee and the Radopholus similis
nematode into banana-producing areas.101 In western Africa
(Angola and Guinea), higher minimum temperatures by 2020
may extend the range of Black Leaf Streak, a disease affecting
banana crops.102
In lowland and dryland areas of Africa, climate change may
alter the distribution of economically important pests (low
confidence). For example, changes in temperature, rainfall and
seasonality in central Africa may provide suitable habitats for
the spread of the pernicious weed, Striga hermonthica, whereas
its range may shrink in the Sahel. Striga is a major cause of low
cereal yields in sub-Saharan Africa. The range of cassava pests,
such as whitefly, cassava brown streak virus, cassava mosaic
geminivirus and cassava mealybug, could shrink throughout
Africa although projections indicate southeast Africa and
Madagascar could become more susceptible.
Warming of more than 2°C and changes in precipitation may
alter the distribution of the ticks that spread East Coast Fever
in cattle.
Economic impacts of climate change on agriculture:
Scenarios for Tanzania, where agriculture accounts for about
half of gross domestic product and employs about 80% of the
labour force, indicate that changes in climate could increase
poverty and vulnerability. Scenarios for Namibia indicate that
annual losses to the economy associated with the impacts of
climate change on the country’s natural resources could range
between 1% and 4.8% of gross domestic product. Ghana’s
economy and agricultural sector are particularly vulnerable
because cocoa is the single most important export product
and because cocoa will be affected by changes in climate.
Cocoa production is thus central in debates on development
and poverty alleviation.
Looking forward, changes in climate could push up the price
of basic cereals and this could have serious implications
for food security in Africa. Moreover, as recent rises in food
prices demonstrate, what happens in other regions has a
profound effect on food security in Africa.
Africa is undergoing rapid urbanisation. At the same time,
changes in food processing, marketing and patterns of food
consumption are transforming food systems. Increasing
reliance on purchased food in urban areas means that
approaches to addressing the impacts of climate change
on food security will need to consider field-to-table
food systems (production, processing, transport, storage
and preparation). Changes in climate may exacerbate
weaknesses in food systems and result in more post-harvest
losses. High temperatures increase spoilage. Floods damage
transport infrastructure.
The degradation of coral reefs in Africa is a risk from
climate change. Reefs are important for protecting coastal
ecosystems and supporting fishery stocks (medium
confidence). At present, the risk is medium and adaptation
could reduce the risk to low. In the near term (2030–2040),
the risk is high but adaptation could reduce the risk to
medium. In the long term (2080–2100), the risk to coral
reefs is very high with potential to reduce to high through
adaptation with 4°C warming and high with potential to
reduce to medium through adaptation with 2°C warming.
Projections also indicate that demand for fish will increase
substantially in Africa over the next few decades. Angola,
Mauritania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and
Senegal are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate
change on fisheries. Coastal countries of West Africa may
also experience significant negative impacts on fisheries.
44 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
The distribution and dynamics of all types of terrestrial
ecosystems in Africa, deserts, grasslands, shrub lands,
savannas, woodlands and forests, are changing (high
confidence). The impacts of humans on forests are increasing,
with conversion of forests for agricultural land, harvesting of
wood for fuel and agroforestry practices. A complex shift in
the spatial distribution of remaining natural vegetation has
led to net decreases in woody vegetation in western Africa,
and net increases in woody vegetation in central, eastern
and southern Africa (high confidence).
Models show (high agreement) that changes in precipitation,
temperature and levels of carbon dioxide associated with
climate change are very likely to drive important changes
in terrestrial systems throughout Africa (high confidence),
primarily in the extent of woody vegetation. How the shift
in ecosystem dynamics may affect economic activities such
as forestry and agriculture is uncertain.
There are many adaptation options
for African agriculture
Managing climate-related risks to livelihoods: Given that
African economies depend largely on natural resources,
most research on strengthening adaptive capacity in Africa
has focused on rural livelihoods based on agriculture,
forestry or fisheries, and has only recently extended to periurban
and urban livelihoods.
Progress in managing risks to food production from
current climate variability and near-term climate change
will not be sufficient to address the long-term impacts
of climate change (high confidence). Since the Fourth
Assessment Report, Africa has taken a more livelihoodsbased
approach to managing risks to food production
from multiple stresses, including rainfall variability. While
these efforts could make agricultural systems in Africa more
resilient over the near term, they would be insufficient
for managing the risks associated with long-term climate
change, which will vary across regions and farming systems.
Nonetheless, collaborative, participatory research processes,
warning systems and more flexible livelihood options
are strengthening coping strategies for near-term risks
in climate variability and could serve as foundations for
strengthening adaptive capacities.
Technology: African countries have gained experience
in climate-proofing infrastructure, and improving food
storage and management to reduce post-harvest losses.
A growing body of evidence shows that farmers are
changing the technologies they use and their farming
practices in response to food security risks linked to climate
change and variability. For example, farmers plant cereal
varieties adapted to shorter and more variable growing
seasons, they build bunds to capture rainwater and reduce
soil erosion, they use reduced tillage practices, manage
crop residues to bridge dry spells when fodder is scarce and
adjust planting dates to match shifts in rainfall patterns.
Conservation agriculture can both bolster food production
and enable farmers to better manage climate risks (high
confidence). Conservation or zero tillage, incorporating
crop residues and green manures, building stone bunds,
agroforestry, and afforestation and reforestation of
croplands reduce run-off and protect soils from erosion.
These practices capture rainwater and improve soil waterholding
capacity, replenish soil fertility and increase carbon
storage in agricultural landscapes.
Expansion of irrigation in sub-
Saharan Africa holds significant
potential for spurring
agricultural growth while
also managing water scarcity
associated with climate change.
Expansion of irrigation in sub-Saharan Africa holds
significant potential for spurring agricultural growth
while also managing water scarcity associated with
climate change. Planning at systems level could ensure
that irrigation schemes benefit producers and avoid
conflict. Inexpensive irrigation technologies such as lowpressure
drip irrigation and small reservoirs could diversify
production towards high-value horticultural crops. Strategic
approaches to managing changing drought and rainfall
patterns could include improving water- use efficiency in
both rainfed and irrigated production, and embedding
new irrigation schemes in rural development plans. Farmers
need better access to agricultural inputs and markets, and
packages that include technologies such as improved
varieties, pest and disease control, soil fertility management,
and in situ rainwater harvesting as well as access to irrigation
in order to increase water productivity.
Reducing post-harvest losses through improved food
storage, food preservation, greater access to processing
facilities and better transport to markets is important to
enhance food security. Low-cost on-farm storage, such as
metal silos and triple-sealed plastic bags, reduces postharvest
losses from pests and pathogens. Better storage
gives farmers more flexibility in when they sell their grain.
Barriers to adaptation: External interventions strengthen
some coping and adaptive mechanisms and weaken others.
Constraints faced by women, often cultural or legal, include
limited access to land and natural resources, and limited
access to information and new ideas. Few small-scale
farmers across Africa are able to adapt to climatic changes,
while others are restricted by a suite of overlapping barriers
(high agreement, robust evidence).
In Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique,
Zimbabwe, Zambia and Ghana constraints to adaptation
have been found to be:
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 45
• Financial – poverty and a lack of cash or credit;
• Biophysical and infrastructural – limited access to water
and land, poor quality soil, land fragmentation, poor
roads, and pests and diseases;
• Institutional, technological and political – lack of access
to inputs, shortage of labour, poor quality seed and
inputs, insecure tenure and poor access to markets; and
• Informational – lack of information on agroforestry,
afforestation, crop varieties, climate-change predictions
and weather, and adaptation strategies.
Significant variability, lack of easy-to-use real-time weather
information and information about the future climate,
and poor local forecasts are commonly-cited barriers to
adaptation at farm through to national level.
Africa’s agriculture, forestry and land-use
sectors are a source of greenhouse gas
Food security and sustainable development depend on
agriculture, forestry and other land use. Agriculture, forestry
and other land use are important for mitigation because
plants sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere
into carbon stock pools such as biomass and soil. Plants
also release greenhouse gases – CO2, methane (CH4) and
nitrous oxide (N2O) – through respiration, decomposition or
combustion. Human land use alters natural sequestration
and emissions and can either increase carbon sinks, for
example through afforestation, or reduce carbon sinks,
for example through deforestation.
Globally, the area of agricultural land increased by 7%
(311 million hectares) between 1970 and 2010. The increase
masks a decrease of about 53 million hectares between
2000 and 2010, which is attributed to a decline in cropland,
permanent pasture and meadows. Improvements in
farming technologies and techniques, and a 233% rise in the
use of fertiliser, increased crop yields and doubled harvests
of grain (to 2.5 billion tonnes per year) between 1970 and
2010. Livestock rearing also increased, contributing to a rise
in methane emissions, particularly in Africa and Asia. Global
daily per capita food availability also increased, and in Africa
increased by 22% (to 10,716 kJ or 2560 kcal per person).
Consumption of animal products increased globally but
remained constant in Africa (8% of food consumption or
865 kJ) and decreased in OECD90 countries. Land is one
of the most important resources in the agriculture, forestry
and other land use sector because it provides food, fibre
and fuel, and supports livelihoods. However, land is
a finite resource and mitigation options in the agriculture,
forestry and other land use sector may have positive or
negative effects.
Table 4: Low-regrets entry points for adaptation
in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and food security
Entry points for reducing vulnerability through development and planning
Poverty alleviation – livestock insurance, access to and control of local resources, land tenure, crop storage facilities
Livelihood security – infrastructure, access to technology and decision-making, cropping, livestock and aquaculture practices, social networks,
livelihood diversification
Disaster risk management – early warning systems
Ecosystem management – genetic diversity, community-based natural resource management
Entry points for incremental and transformational adaptation
Technologies – new crop and animal varieties, traditional technologies and methods, efficient irrigation, water-saving technologies, conservation agriculture,
food storage and preservation facilities, early warning systems
Ecosystems – ecological restoration, afforestation/reforestation, controlling overfishing, fisheries co-management, mangrove conservation and restoration,
community-based natural resource management
Services – social safety nets, social protection, food banks, distribution of food surpluses
Economic – payment for ecosystem services, insurance, microfinance, disaster contingency funds, cash transfers
Laws and regulations – land zoning, easements, defined property rights, land tenure security, protected areas, fishing quotas, technology patents and transfer
Social – extension services, local and traditional knowledge, participatory action research, social learning, knowledge sharing, learning platforms, soil and water
conservation, livelihood diversification, climate services, cropping, livestock and aquaculture practices, social networks
Transformation – social and technical innovation, behavioural shifts, institutional changes, changes in political, social, cultural and ecological systems and
structures, changes in beliefs, worldviews
Source: See Table 1, above.
46 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Between 1990 and 2010 the area of forest decreased
in Africa and the area of pasture increased. The area of
cropland has also increased. Africa now has the largest
area of pasture and the third largest area of forest of all
the continents. The use of fertiliser use is the lowest, well
below global trends. Africa has the largest number of sheep
and goats and is now third in cattle and buffalo rearing,
overtaking OECD90 countries. Poultry farming is also
increasing but is relatively less important than in most
other regions.
Overall, there are benefits for mitigation
action in Africa’s agriculture and forestry
sectors – and risks which must be managed
Opportunities for mitigation in land and forestry involve
supply-side changes, such as producing biomass, and
improving agricultural efficiency; or demand-side changes,
such as reducing food waste in production, distribution
and by consumers, and reducing people’s use of wood and
forestry products.
As agriculture and forestry have major roles not only
in mitigation, but also in achieving other development
objectives, there are both significant benefits and risks.
Mitigation in agriculture, forestry and other land use could
affect economic, social or institutional development
objectives. The co-benefits and risks will depend on the
development context as well as the extent of the mitigation
intervention. Generalising the effects is difficult. Overall,
there seem to be more economic and environmental
benefits than risks. Maximising co-benefits, however,
could make mitigation measures more efficient.
The social impacts will depend on the measures taken
and the legal frameworks put in place, especially land
rights. Mitigation measures that change land tenure and
land-use rights could affect groups that depend on natural
resources. A co-benefit of mitigation measures could be
the clarification of land rights. A risk could be the removal
of informal customary rights. Institutions that regulate
and enforce land-use rights will determine the outcomes.
Mitigation measures in agriculture, forestry and other land
use could support certain sectoral policies but could also
clash with others. Food security could be affected. Policies
to reduce hunger by producing more food could clash with
conservation measures or measures to increase biomass.
Equity could be improved through social benefits or new
technologies but could also be harmed by marginalisation
of small farmers and forest users or land acquisition. The
co-benefits and risks could be greater in Africa if mitigation
through forestry measures takes priority. In Africa, capital
may not be available to compensate or help groups such as
forest users to diversify their livelihoods.
Mitigation measures in agriculture, forestry and other land
use could increase food supplies but reduce the amount
of water available for other uses. Decision-makers would
be faced with evaluating this kind of trade-off. Mitigation
measures in agriculture, forestry and other land use
could support biological diversity, for example through
conservation, but undermine biodiversity through changes
in land use. Changes in forest management, afforestation
and reforestation or production of biomass for biofuels
could alter the availability of water.
Policy Benefits Risks
Economic • Diversification of production as goods such as biofuels or
biomass for energy production is increased
• Additional income sources as production is diversified
and additional income towards sustainable landscape
• Access to innovative financing mechanisms for sustainable
resource management
• Improved energy security
• Technology innovation and transfer
• Potential to use less labour intensive technologies
in agriculture
Social • Increased food/crop production as efficiency improves
• Conservation or creation of cultural habitats and
recreational areas
• Better human health through reduced use of chemical
fertilisers and pesticides
• Potential to increase security in land-use rights
• Decrease in food production if displaced by biofuels
• Increased air pollution through increased burning of biomass
• Potential to shift land rights towards more ‘productive’ users
and away from traditional users
Environmental • Increased land-use competition i.e. between conservation and
production and between food crops and biomass for energy
Table 5: Climate mitigation policy in the
agriculture, forestry and land-use sectors:
co-benefits and risks103
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 47
Box 13: Bioenergy
Bioenergy could help stabilise changes in climate and has
significant potential to reduce emissions. Best practice
production of biomass, coupled with efficient cooking
stoves and biogas plants, could reduce emissions and
improve the lives of rural inhabitants. Moreover, Africa has
opportunities to integrate bioenergy into food production.
Biomass residue and waste, from sugar production
for example, can be converted to ethanol, energy and
biogas. Agricultural and forestry residues are also low-cost
feedstock for bioenergy. The inedible parts of food plants,
wood and certain types of grass also hold substantial
potential for bioenergy.
Large-scale development of bioenergy is, however,
controversial. Developing bioenergy may threaten food
security in Africa. Releasing carbon into the atmosphere
by burning bioenergy reduces carbon stocks. Shifting
land use from forests to biofuel production could threaten
Eight countries in Africa have set bioenergy targets. These
countries are developing bioenergy in order to meet a
range of development objectives – rural development,
energy security and mitigating climate change.
Achieving bioenergy targets, especially through biofuels,
involves tackling policies and legislation relating to land
registration, land-use planning and governance. Achieving
biofuel targets also involves trade-offs, for example
between forests and biofuel production, or between
commodities such as vegetable oil and food and biofuel.
Among the concerns are competition for land and water
between fuel and food crops, adverse impacts of biofuels
on biodiversity and the environment, contracts and
regulations that expose farmers to legal risks, and changes
in land tenure. The spread of biofuel crops could also
restrict access to land and reduce livelihood opportunities
for women, pastoralists and nomadic farmers. Research
evidence does not yet provide a full understanding of the
socioeconomic and environmental trade-offs associated
with biofuel production in Africa.
Developing biofuels can also lead to international trade
disputes. Some countries have already limited imports of
biofuels and some subsidise national biofuel production.
Box 14: The land use sector offers
opportunities for combined
adaptation-mitigation approaches
Mitigating emissions from agriculture and forestry
could either enhance or diminish climate resilience. The
many competing pressures on land mean that land use
decisions driven by mitigation objectives could affect
adaptive capacity in agriculture as well as development
objectives in other sectors. In some cases there may be
clear synergies between adaptation and mitigation, for
example, slowing or reversing deforestation could provide
benefits by conserving biodiversity, which could bolster
climate resilience.
Land-baesd approaches to mitigation such as reforestation
need to consider the effects of changes in climate. For
example, reforestation relying on one tree species would
be more susceptible to climate change than reforestation
involving several species. Monocultural forestry introduces
other problems for climate adaptation and development,
too: forest plantations of non-native species, although
they may fix more carbon than mixtures of native
species, support less biodiversity and contribute less to
ecological services. In such cases, compromises that favour
biodiversity-rich carbon storage would be preferable.
Adaptation measures could support mitigation; for
example, a project to prevent fires or restore degraded
forests would also prevent the release of greenhouse gases.
Adaptation measures that add biomass and soil carbon,
such as ecosystem protection and reforestation, could also
help mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon.
Box 15: Low-regrets opportunities
Evidence from smallholder farms in Africa shows that
planting trees among annual crops can transform
degraded farmland. In Zambia and Malawi, for example,
planting nitrogen-fixing Faidherbia trees and fertilising
them with small doses of minerals has replenished soil
fertility. Yields of maize have doubled, food security has
improved and incomes have risen.
Natural regeneration, a tradition among farmers and
herders of selecting and protecting small trees until they
grow to maturity has, perhaps for centuries, maintained
extensive tracts of Acacia albida (winter thorn) in Senegal,
Adansonia digitata (baobab) in western and southern
Africa, and Butyrospermum parkii (Shea butter) in Burkina
Faso. Recent work on natural regeneration has, depending
on the type of soil, led to a denser tree cover and richer
mix of species in Burkina Faso and Niger. In southern
Niger, farmer-managed natural regeneration of Faidherbia
albida and other field trees starting in the late 1980s, has
increased tree cover across 4.8 million hectares and made
production systems less sensitive to drought, compared to
other regions in Niger.
48 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Box 16: The water-energy-food/feed/fibre nexus and climate change105
The interactions among water, energy, food, feed and fibre
are multi-dimensional. These interactions affect and are
affected by changes in climate. Energy technologies (biofuels,
hydropower, thermal power plants), transport and food
production (from irrigated crops for example) use significant
amounts of water. In irrigated agriculture, factors such as
climate, technologies, the choice of crops and yields determine
the water requirements per unit of crop produced. Producing,
refrigerating, transporting and processing food require a great
deal of energy. Another significant link between food and
energy related to climate change is the competition for land
and water (robust evidence, high agreement). Using food and
crop waste, and wastewater as sources of energy saves not only
non-renewable fuels, but also the water and energy that would
have been used to process, treat and dispose of the wastes. Byproducts
of sugar cane, for example, now fuel power stations.
Such approaches bring both economic benefits and mitigate
emissions of greenhouse gases.
The interactions between food, fibre, water, land use, energy
and climate change are becoming more and more important
in policies for adaptation and mitigation. For example,
mitigation scenarios, as described in the IPCC’s Special Report
on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation
(IPCC, 2011) indicate up to 300 exajoule (EJ) a year of biomass
primary energy by 2050 under increasingly stringent mitigation
measures. (Energy use in the United States per year is roughly
94 EJ.) Such high levels of biomass energy production, in the
absence of changes in technologies, processes, management
and operations, would have significant implications for land
use, water and energy, as well as for food production and
prices. A consideration of the links between energy, food, feed,
fibre, water, land use and changes in climate is increasingly
recognised as being critical to making decisions on climateresilient
pathways (medium evidence, high agreement). Tools to
support local and regional assessments and decision-making,
however, are limited.
Energy Food/
feed/ bre
Water for food/ feed/ bre
Crop and livestock production
Processing and transport
Food consumption
Energy for irrigated crops
Food/ feed/ bre for energy
Competition between (bio) energy
and food/ bre production for
water and land
Water for food/ feed/ bre
Water use for food processing
Impact of food/ feed/ bre
production on water quality
and runo generation
Water for energy
Cooling of thermal power plants
Irrigation of bioenergy crops
Extraction and refining
Energy for water
Extraction and transportation
Water treatment/ desalination
Wastewater, drainage, treatment
and disposal
Energy – Water – Food/ Feed/ Fibre – Climate change Nutritionally appropriate low meat diet or low water
consuming vegetarian diet generally reduces water and energy
demand as well as greenhouse gas emissions per person.
Use of agricultural, livestock and food waste may reduce
conventional energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate change tends to increase energy demand for cooling
as well as water demand.
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 49
Beyond the Fifth Assessment
Report: Agroforestry for stable
livelihoods, carbon capture and
climate resilience104
Zambia, like much of Africa, is reliant on maize
for food security. However, maize yields average
only about 1 tonne per hectare (ha), so even a
moderate decline in harvests can be devastating
for food security. Climate change is a critical
concern, with declining or more erratic rainfall
likely to result in lower production and less
predictable harvests. Also, current production
methods leave the soil deplete of nutrients,
leading to land degradation which further
threatens livelihoods and food security. Since
the mid-1990s, Zambia’s Conservation Farming
Unit (CFU) and the World Agroforestry Centre
have been pioneering ’evergreen agriculture’
solutions to address these problems.
Evergreen agriculture combines agroforestry
with the principles of conservation farming, by
integrating particular tree species into annual
food crop systems. By sustaining a green
cover on the land throughout the year, the
intercropped trees have several key benefits
• maintaining vegetative soil cover;
• bolstering nutrient supply through
nitrogen fixing and nutrient cycling;
• generating greater quantities of soil
organic matter;
• improving soil structure and water
• producing additional food, fodder, fibre
and income;
• enhancing carbon storage both above and
below ground; and
• allowing more effective conservation of
above- and below-ground biodiversity.
Zambia is using evergreen agriculture in two
practices: maize agroforestry and conservation
agriculture with trees. Both of these systems
tackle the need to replenish soils in affordable
ways using natural fertilisers – in short, reemploying
age-old indigenous knowledge
While these practices have great potential in
mitigating the impacts of climate change and
promoting climate-compatible development,
there is a need for more support, as well as
research and testing. There is also potential
for ‘nationally appropriate mitigation schemes’
(NAMAs) to integrate evergreen agriculture,
which could mobilise international finance
for these practices in Zambia, and in other
African countries.
Box 17: Removing barriers to
conservation agriculture
Conservation agriculture practices strengthen the
resilience of agro-ecosystems to extreme events and
diversify livelihoods, while also advancing adaptation
(high confidence). African farmers are adopting practices
such as agroforestry, farmer-managed forest regeneration,
conservation tillage, contouring, terracing and mulching.
These practices strengthen the resilience of land
resources to extreme events and diversify livelihoods,
both important in managing and adapting to changes in
climate. Removing barriers to broader adoption of these
practices, such as by stabilising land tenure and usufruct,
encouraging peer-to-peer learning, orienting extension
services to cater for gender, widening access to credit and
markets, and eliminating perverse policy incentives could
help adaptation.
Image: Neil Palmer/ CIAT | Farming, Kenya
50 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
8.2. Opportunities in the energy sector
Climate vulnerabilities should be
a consideration for decision-makers in
Africa’s energy sector
The extent to which changes in climate will affect energy
will depend on the resource (e.g. water, wind, solar
radiation), the technology (e.g. cooling) and the location (e.g.
coastal, floodplain) (high agreement, robust evidence). Gradual
changes in climate (e.g. in temperature, rainfall, windiness,
cloudiness etc.) and changes in the frequency and intensity
of extreme weather events will have a progressive effect.
Changes in the availability and temperature of water for
cooling are the main concern for thermal and nuclear power
plants, and may push up costs. Changes in climate may also
affect the integrity and reliability of pipelines and electricity
grids (medium agreement, medium evidence).
Solar energy: All solar energy technologies are sensitive to
changes in sunlight. For example, if cloud cover increases,
the intensity of solar radiation and hence the output of heat
or electricity will decrease. Solar power systems are also
vulnerable to harsh weather conditions.
Thermal energy: Rising temperatures and decreasing
water availability will lower the efficiency of thermal power
generation. For example, in southern Africa less water may
be available for thermoelectric power and drinking water,
with associated impacts on local and regional economies.
Hydropower: Assessing the impacts of climate change
on hydropower is complicated. Competition for water
because of changes in population and economic activities
(especially irrigation) is difficult to predict. For example, in
Ethiopia capital expenditure in climate change adaptation
for hydropower facilities through 2050 may either decrease
under extreme wet scenarios or increase under severe dry
scenarios in order to maintain output. In the Zambezi river
basin, less hydropower could be generated by mid-century
under the driest scenario. Upstream power stations on the
Zambezi are likely to generate less power and downstream
stations more.
Non-renewable energy: Hazards related to climate and
weather in the oil and gas sectors include the potentially
severe effects of tropical cyclones on off-shore platforms
and on-shore infrastructure.
Africa’s energy-related emissions are low, but
increasing fast
Industrial, transport, construction and other sectors use
electricity, heat, refined petroleum and other forms of
energy derived from primary sources of energy such as coal,
oil or gas. However, in generating energy, the energy sector
uses more energy than any other sector. Major inefficiencies
in converting, transmitting and distributing energy
(generating power from fossil fuel is only 37% efficient)
mean there are significant opportunities for saving energy.
Between 2001 and 2010, the world’s total primary energy
supply grew by 27% or 2.4% a year. Globally, the highest
rate of growth over this period was in Asia (79%) but growth
rates were also high (47%) in Africa and the Middle East.
Growing energy demand in Africa has raised consumption
of both conventional and non-conventional oil. Rising
oil prices and the security of oil supplies are concerns for
countries where demand for oil is growing. Rates of growth
in the consumption of natural gas were highest in Africa
and Asia.
Box 18: Energy sector terminology
Primary energy use: Primary energy (also referred to as energy
sources) is the energy stored in natural resources (e.g. coal,
crude oil, natural gas, uranium and renewable resources).
Final energy use: Primary energy is transformed into secondary
energy by cleaning, refining or by converting it into electricity
or heat. When secondary energy is delivered to the end-user it
is called final energy (e.g. electricity at the wall outlet), where it
becomes usable energy in supplying services (e.g. light).
Life-cycle emissions assessment: Refers to compiling and
evaluating all the inputs, outputs and potential environmental
impacts of a production system (e.g. a coal power plant or
a photovoltaic panel) throughout its life cycle, including
construction, use (outputs) and end of use.
Levelised costs of energy: A measure assessing the long-run
average cost of a unit of energy provided by a technology.
Carbon intensity: The amount of carbon by weight emitted
per unit of energy consumed.
Energy source: A source from which useful energy can
be extracted or recovered either directly or by means of a
conversion or transformation process (e.g. solid fuels, liquid
fuels, solar energy, biomass).
Energy carrier: Energy carriers are produced by the energy
sector using primary energy sources.
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 51
By 2010, renewable energy contributed 13.5% of total
global primary energy supply. In 2012, renewable energy
accounted for 21% of total electricity production, ranking
third after coal and gas. Between 2005 and 2012 there
was a five-fold growth in wind power and a 25-fold growth
in solar photovoltaic power, mostly in OECD90 countries
and Asia.
Growth in greenhouse gas emissions from the energy
supply sector was faster 2001–2010 than in any previous
period. Between 1991 and 2000, emissions increased by
1.7% a year and between 2001 and 2010 they increased by
3.1% a year. Between 2010 and 2012 there was a 6% rise in
greenhouse gas emissions, of which most (43%) were from
coal, followed by oil (36%) and gas (20%).
The rise in energy emissions is partly due to population
growth. The Fifth Assessment Report indicates that population
growth accounts for 39.7% of additional emissions. The slow
rate of decarbonisation of global energy led to the paradox
whereby the decade 2001–2010 saw carbon mitigation
policies put in place at the same time as emissions of carbon
were growing at the fastest rate for 30 (or so) years. While
carbon intensity (the amount of carbon by weight emitted
per unit of energy consumed) fell in OECD90 countries,
there was little or no decarbonisation in developing
countries (average decline of about 0.4% a year).
Greenhouse gas emissions from the energy supply sector
in Africa increased by 3.38 times between 1970 and 2010.
Emissions from producing electricity and heat, and from
petroleum refining grew the most quickly, although fuel
production and transmission continued to be significant.
That said, African emissions start from a low base. Per capita
emissions in Africa in 2010 were the second lowest globally
(1.46 t/CO2e/yr) and increased by 1.05 times between 1980
and 2010. Africa had the second highest rate of growth
in total emissions 2001–2010 (3.66%), lower only than Asia
(7.89%). High rates of growth and an increase in the use of
fossil fuel are the main causes of the rise in greenhouse gas
emissions from the energy sector in Africa.
Fossil fuel is not a fixed resource but is a ‘dynamically
evolving quantity’ because of uncertainty about the amount
available. Estimates indicate that coal will be available for
the next 100 years at current rates of production. Production
of conventional oil will soon or may already have peaked.
Production of non-conventional oil will only extend supplies
by about two decades and will depend on price rises in
order to make extraction profitable. Overall, oil production
is expected to decline in the long term. Discoveries of
natural gas have far outpaced production. Reserves are large
and have a greater global distribution than oil. Reserves
of unconventional gas are estimated to be greater than
reserves of conventional gas. If all reserves of fossil fuel were
used to produce energy, estimates indicate that emissions
would raise temperatures above the 2°C warming threshold.
Africa has options to invest in clean energy
and avoid emissions
Mitigating emissions in the energy sector will involve
reducing life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions. This will
mean replacing fossil fuel by renewable or nuclear energy,
and reducing emissions from extracting, transporting and
converting fossil fuel into energy. Without mitigation, CO2
emissions from the energy sector will continue to rise. As
African countries are still to make significant investments
in energy infrastructure to meet their development needs,
there is a major opportunity to avoid fossil fuel dependency
and invest up front in cleaner, more efficient technologies.
As African countries are still to
make significant investments in
energy infrastructure to meet
their development needs, there
is a major opportunity to avoid
fossil fuel dependency and
invest up front in cleaner, more
efficient technologies.
Scaling out renewable energy technologies: Significantly
reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector
in Asia would require investment in renewable energies
such as hydropower, bioenergy and ocean energy. Most
renewable energy technologies emit less greenhouse gas
over their life cycle than fossil fuel technologies.
Life-cycle emissions for renewable energy (see Figure 8) are:
• Photovoltaic panels 5–217 gCO2eq/kWh,
• Nuclear energy 1–220 gCO2eq/kWh,
• Geothermal energy 6–79 gCO2eq/kWh, and
• Ocean energy 2–23 gCO2eq/kWh.
Emissions from non-renewable energy are:
• Coal 410–650 gCO2eq/kWh
• Natural gas 710–950 gCO2eq/kWh
Africa uses only a fraction of its renewable energy resources.
Renewable energy can be large-scale, as in industrial-sized
solar farms, or distributed, for example household solar
panels. Decentralised renewable energy could be significant
in Africa given its geography and settlement patterns.
African countries already generate some electricity from
large and decentralised photovoltaic systems. Life-cycle
emissions from hydropower plants vary widely depending
on the construction materials used. Large hydropower
schemes would emit more than small run-of-the-river dams.
52 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
The cost and performance of many renewable energy
technologies have improved significantly in recent years.
Better manufacturing processes, lower costs of hardware
and changing market conditions have brought down prices.
Globally, between 2009 and 2012, the levelised cost of
photovoltaic energy fell by 57%, wind energy by 15%, gas
from waste by 16% and biomass gas by 26%. Lower levelised
costs mean that wind, solar and geothermal energy are
becoming more competitive. Although scarcity of inputs,
rare earth minerals for photovoltaic panels for example,
may raise prices in the short term, the long-term trend is
for costs to fall.
Other technologies are at different stages of development,
for example different types of bioenergy differ in their
efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Also, the levelised costs of
energy can vary according to location. For example, the cost
of producing biofuel in certain parts of Africa will differ from
the cost of producing the same fuel elsewhere, as will the
cost of infrastructure.
The distribution of renewable resources, capacity to invest
and competition for the resources may limit the extent to
which they can be deployed. For example, many renewable
energy technologies are geographically constrained as they
need to be located at the source of energy: wind farms
need to be located in windy areas and geothermal plants
in geothermally active areas. Economic factors, public
acceptance and the need for investment in infrastructure
could also limit exploitation of the technical potential of
renewable resources. Policies and publicly-sponsored
research and development could play an important role in
scaling-out renewable energy.
New technology: Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal
drilling technologies (fracking) in the gas sector have
increased supplies. The new technologies have led to
a switch from coal to gas and have reduced emissions in
countries with abundant non-conventional gas reserves.
Tapping non-conventional gas or more natural gas could
reduce emissions in Africa.
Preventing fugitive emissions: Fugitive emissions
contribute to air pollution and climate change. Reducing
fugitive emissions, especially of methane, would include
for example, preventing leaks in gas pipelines.
Improving transmission and distribution: Losses in
transmission vary by country, but are considerably higher
in developing countries, where losses are around 20%,
than in OECD90 countries, where they are 6.5%. Shorter
connections and high-voltage transmission systems
help decrease losses and related emissions because less
electricity needs to be produced and electricity generated
is better distributed.
Infrastructure: Reducing emissions in the energy sector
will require large-scale investment in infrastructure. In
Africa, demand for power often outstrips supply, hindering
economic and social progress. Production of renewable
energy, wind power for example, fluctuates and means that
energy systems will need to link several sources of energy
in order to deliver reliable supplies. Storing energy could be
important in balancing supply and demand, for example
storage dams in hydropower systems – although dam
construction and maintenance can create trade-offs with
development goals that must be very carefully managed.
Existing infrastructure would need to be made more robust
and efficient in order to transmit and distribute renewable
energy. In Africa, decentralised renewable energy may be
technically and economically more feasible than centralised
supply systems. Gases generated from biomass and waste
could be distributed through existing natural gas pipelines.
Existing natural gas systems could also be used to transport
hydrogen for short distances.
Costs and benefits of mitigation approaches
in Africa’s energy sector
From an energy supply and security perspective, the cobenefits
and risks of mitigation action are hard to resolve.
Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy may improve
energy security. Conversely, if investments in renewable
energy are too slow to meet suppressed demand and take
place at the expense of investments in fossil fuels), then
there could continue to be a shortage of energy in the
short to medium-term. A further number of socioeconomic,
environmental and health risks and benefits merit
Socioeconomic benefits of clean energy: The potential
for creating jobs in renewable power plants, or in
manufacturing, distributing and researching technologies
to mitigate emissions in the energy sector is good although
the cost of creating jobs may be high. Creating a new job
in photovoltaics in Germany, for example, costs US$257,400.
Mitigation measures could improve energy security by
generating more energy locally or by efficiency savings that
reduce imports. Benefits to rural development could include
wider access to energy through decentralised renewable
energy systems. Developing biofuels could also stimulate
rural growth.
Environment and health benefits: No energy supply
chain, including for renewable energy, has zero impact on
the environment. Emissions from fossil fuels are pollutants
that affect human health and can lead to many diseases.
Reducing combustion of fossil fuel can help reduce
pollution with benefits to human health and biodiversity.
Small renewable energy systems have less ecological
impact than large systems such as hydropower dams. The
health and environmental risks associated with mitigation
measures, such as the risks of meltdown, waste disposal and
uncontrolled proliferation associated with nuclear energy,
may outweigh the benefits.
Barriers to clean energy: The main barriers to mitigation
in the energy sector are technological and financial.
Investment in renewable energy in developing countries
fell by 29% in 2012. Capital markets for financing energy are
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 53
Figure 8: Comparative life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from electricity supplied
by currently commercially available technologies (fossil fuels, renewable and nuclear
power) and pre-commercial technologies (advanced fossil systems with carbon
capture and storage, and ocean energy)106, 107
-500 -250 0 250 500 750 1000 1250
Emissions [gCO2eq/kWh]
Direct Emissions
Infrastructure and Supply
Chain Emissions
Biogenic CO2 and Albedo
Typical Contributions to Lifecycle
Emissions by Source
Lifecycle Emissions as Estimated
in AR5 and SRREN
Biomass – Dedicated & Crop Residues
Biogas – Corn and Manure
Geothermal – Electricity
Geothermal – Electricity
Wind Onshore
Solar PV
Solar PV – Utility
Solar PV – Rooftop
Concentrated Solar Power
Concentrated Solar Power
CCS – Gas – Combined Cycle
CCS – Natural Gas
Ocean – Wave and Tidal
Ocean Energy
CCS – Coal
CCS – Coal – IGCC
CCS – Coal – PC
CCS – Coal – Oxyfuel
Coal – IGCC
Wind Energy
Wind Offshore
World Average Coal
Coal – PC
World Average Gas
Gas – Combined Cycle
Natural Gas
Biomass – Forest Wood
75th percentile
Median Maximum
25th percentile Abbreviations
CCS: carbon capture and storage
IGCC: integrated gasification
combined cycle
PC: pulverised coal
PV: photovoltaic
SRREN:108 IPCC (2011). IPCC Special
Report on Renewable Energy Sources
and Climate Change Mitigation.
54 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
not well developed. Human capacity is also a constraint.
Education systems are not delivering sufficient skilled
personnel for research, production and investment in
energy mitigation technologies. The lifespan of existing
energy capital stock could also be a barrier. There is
little incentive to invest in new energy infrastructure
if the existing infrastructure is still commercially and
technically viable.
A range of policy options can support clean
energy development: most are just beginning
to be tested in Africa
Policies to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations combine
economic, regulatory and informational measures. Many
of these have been tested in industrialised countries such
as in northern Europe and to only a very limited degree
in Africa – although there is some important African
experience beyond the scope of the Fifth Assessment Report,
which is captured in the boxes below.
Economic policies: Greenhouse gas trading schemes and
taxes on emissions deal with market externalities associated
with emissions. Trading schemes allow emitters to reduce
their emissions and sell spare capacity. Taxes allow emitters
to save money by cutting emissions.
Regulations: Rules setting targets for low-carbon
technology allow companies to assess whether
investment is worthwhile and to plan for the long term.
More investment in low-carbon technology would make
technologies both cheaper and more efficient. The success
of policies would depend on robust legal frameworks and
stable regulations.
Information campaigns: Raising awareness, building
capacity and disseminating information are important in
encouraging uptake of renewable energy technologies.
Transparency improves both public and private decisionmaking
processes and catalyses public acceptance of
mitigation activities in the energy sector.
Technology investments: Publicly-funded research
and development could advance renewable energy
technologies. There has been significant public expenditure
on research and development in nuclear energy. However,
technologies such as carbon capture and storage have not
received much support. More public support would not
only improve renewable energy technologies but might
also be an incentive for private investment.
Voluntary action: The success of voluntary agreements has
been mixed, improving energy efficiency significantly but
only reducing emissions slightly.
Beyond the Fifth Assessment
Report – Voluntary carbon
footprinting in Kenya’s
flower sector109
Kenya’s flower sector contributed over US$500
million to the national economy in 2011. The
sector accounts for over 35% of all cut flower
sales in the European Union (EU). However,
heightened awareness of climate change
among EU consumers is increasing the demand
for sustainably sourced, carbon efficient
horticultural produce. In response to this the
Horticultural Crops Development Authority
and Kenya Flower Council are strengthening
Kenya’s competitive position in global markets
by developing accounting and management
solutions for greenhouse gas emissions, energy
efficiency and water use. They have developed a
sectoral greenhouse gas management tool, the
Carbon Reduction, Resources and Opportunities
Toolkit (CaRROT). The toolkit is an easy-to-use
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that integrates
energy and water trackers with a carbon
calculator. The features have been designed with
local context in mind, providing disaggregated
tracking for various sources of energy and water,
including grid electricity, diesel and kerosene,
municipal water, boreholes, lakes and water
harvesting, among others.
Ten farms supplied the initial data to build the
preliminary tool and an additional ten farms
assisted in the pre-testing phase. It was found
that many of the larger farms, especially those
with an international corporate presence, are
already tracking their carbon footprint through
either internal structures or subcontractors. In
this regard, the biggest push for the uptake of
the toolkit has come from medium and smallscale
farms. The final toolkit was approved in
February 2014. The focus for the Kenya Flower
Council and partners now shifts towards
The project contributed to the implementation
of Kenya’s National Climate Change Action Plan
by highlighting financing opportunities for
improvements in energy efficiency and smallscale
renewable energy generation –
and by including efficient water resource use.
Image: Panos | Commercial flower farm, Kenya
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 55
Beyond the Fifth Assessment
Report: Tanzania’s small power
Lack of reliable access to electricity is a
significant barrier to economic development
and job creation in Tanzania. Currently, only 14%
of the population has access to electricity; in
rural areas the electrification rate hovers around
2%. Power outages are frequent – especially
during droughts, which cripple the hydroelectric
power on which most of the country depends.
Tanzania’s Small Power Projects (SPP)
programme was designed by the Government
of Tanzania – with very limited financial
resources – to support renewable energy
deployment. As a result, decentralised
renewable energy solutions are contributing to
Tanzania’s climate-compatible development by:
• Supporting economic development
through improved access to reliable
• Reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and
• Lessening vulnerability to fossil fuel price
shocks and to drought-related hydropower
The programme does not cost the electricity
company or consumers more than conventional
power sources, which is appropriate for this lowincome
Low tariffs and difficult financing conditions
currently limit the programme’s reach, but
have enabled Tanzania to build a regulatory
framework and gain experience. As a next step,
the programme could be scaled up, if sufficient
funds can be secured.
Tanzania’s renewable energy policy-making
and implementation has benefitted from
intensive South-South exchange with Thailand
and Sri Lanka.
Beyond the Fifth Assessment
Report: Kenya’s geothermal
power development119
Kenya’s heavy reliance on hydroelectricity
has made the country vulnerable to climate
change impacts, such as drought and erratic
rainfall patterns. Kenya needs to develop a more
resilient and stable supply of electricity, while
rapidly developing its base load of electricity
production to meet growing demand. Although
the path of least resistance would be to expand
its fossil fuel-based thermal production,
Kenya’s Vision 2030 strategy places priority on
low-carbon development including renewable
energy source development – with geothermal
energy playing a critical role.
Kenya has relied on hydroelectricity as a key
low-carbon energy source and a way of
expanding energy services. However, droughts
and erratic rainfall have made hydropower
unreliable, reducing the country’s adaptive
capacity. Nearly 77% of Kenyans still lack access
to modern energy services, which impedes
development efforts.
An expanded and diversified range of renewable
electricity sources is critical, and geothermal
energy is at the forefront of low-carbon options.
Geothermal energy is readily available and is not
affected by climatic variability.
Kenya has catalysed a productive geothermal
sector by establishing a specialist government
institution, the Geothermal Development
Company, which shoulders some of the financial
risk for the private sector in the exploration,
appraisal and drilling stages. Kenya has accessed
previously unattainable funding sources by
aligning further investments in geothermal
energy with climate change and development
objectives (e.g. carbon/climate finance, donor
funding and local public finance).
Energy sector reforms in Kenya are beginning
to stimulate and fast-track the country’s
geothermal industry in line with the country’s
vision of climate-compatible development. The
country is finding ways to overcome constraints
within the sector and obtain project financing.
This is supported by several enabling factors and
concrete measures taken by the Government
of Kenya, with the aim of creating a viable and
sustainable national geothermal industry.
Image: Caption
Image: Panos | Decentralised solar power
56 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
8.3. Opportunities in the transport sector
Transport systems can be vulnerable to
climate change, but the IPCC does not report
Africa-specific data
The Fifth Assessment Report makes some generic
observations about the robustness of transportation
systems in a changing climate. These generic observations
are worth consideration by decision-makers and planners
in Africa’s transport sector.
Climate change will affect transport both positively and
negatively depending on the location and the nature of
local transport systems. Adapting a transport system to
changes in climate could either complement or counteract
mitigation efforts. However, little is known about the
relationship between mitigation and adaptation in the
transport sector.
Changes in sea or river levels may affect shipping routes.
Where routes become shorter there could be a positive
effect on emissions but where they become longer the
effect could be negative. New routes could also be subject
to pollution if emissions are not regulated. Climate change
will shift agricultural production, which means that freight
routes will also change. Food chains could be shorter
or longer.
Higher temperatures and humidity could affect vehicle
emissions and the interaction of emissions with the
atmosphere. As global average temperatures rise, demand
for cooling systems for both private and public vehicles will
also rise. Similarly, more cold spells will increase demand
for heating in vehicles. Both heating and cooling systems
reduce vehicle fuel efficiency.
Transport infrastructure may also be affected. Climateproofing
transport will depend on changes in demand but
will most likely increase the cost of infrastructure. Changes in
climate will add to maintenance costs. Resources that could
be used to expand existing transport networks could be
diverted to climate-proof existing infrastructure. An increase
in extreme weather events could also influence modes of
transport, for example as storms become more frequent
ships or aircraft may become less safe.
Conventional transport systems that are fossil
fuel-intensive are a fast-growing source of
emissions for Africa
Globally, transport emissions from non-OECD90 countries
will probably be twice as much as transport emissions
from OECD90 countries by 2050. Emissions from personal
transport will likely stay at lower levels in non-OECD90
countries than in OECD90 countries. Most transport
emissions in developing countries will be from public
systems. Emissions from the transport sector have doubled
since 1970 and, in 2012, accounted for 27.4% of final energy
use. Road vehicles are responsible for 80% of emissions.
Reducing emissions from transport will be difficult given
growing demand and existing investment in vehicles and
The potential for the transport sector to grow in Africa is
significant. Currently, 10% of the world’s population account
for 80% of transport, measured in passenger kilometres.
Emissions from transport in Africa (here signifying the IPCC’s
Africa-Middle East region) grew from 0.07 Mt CO2 eq in 1970
to 0.57 Mt CO2 eq in 2010, an eight-fold increase in 40 years.
This region has the second highest growth rate in emissions
from transport. Most African emissions are now from road
traffic. Other sources of emissions barely register. The
pattern in Africa is not unique. Emissions from road traffic
dominate in all other regions.
Policy Benefits Risks
Economic • Increased energy security
• Improved employment opportunities
• Avoids lock-in to fossil fuel-based systems
• Potentially reduced energy supply as energy moves to
Social • Reduced health risks – less air pollution
• Contributes to energy security and access in the long run
• Safety and waste issues
• Energy technology risks (i.e. nuclear risks)
• Carbon capture and storage may cause CO2 leakages with
associated health concerns
Environmental • Less air pollution • Impacts on habitats where renewables are located
Table 6: Energy mitigation policy
co-benefits and risks112
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 57
Mitigation action in Africa’s transport sector
offers significant development benefits,
including for public health
In the transport sector, opportunities for mitigation include:
• Reducing fuel carbon intensity, for example by
changing to electric engines or hydrogen powered
• Shifting transport preferences away from personal
vehicles to public transport; and
• Reducing commuting and freight times and distances.
The co-benefits of mitigation in the transport sector
significantly outweigh the risks:
• More energy security as demand for energy from the
transport sector falls;
• Improved productivity as travel times for goods and
people, and the associated costs, fall;
• Better health because of less pollution; and
• Potential for positive technological spillovers, such as
more efficient engines and batteries.
The risks are mainly environmental. Manufacturing more
efficient transport may need more primary resources or may
open previously relatively untouched areas to vehicles.
Urban transport systems can be planned to minimise
emissions, by giving priority to pedestrians, cyclists and
public transport for example. In emerging economies,
developing mass-transit and low-carbon transport
infrastructure could avoid future lock-in to carbon-intensive
Technological advances in motor vehicle efficiency, spurred
by regulations in the European Union, the United States and
Japan, indicate that there is considerable scope to reduce
emissions by improving combustion engines and
by developing hybrid vehicles.
Currently, most vehicles run on petrol or diesel engines.
Replacing petrol or diesel engines with new electric or
hybrid motors could help to reduce emissions. Lowcarbon
fuels derived from electricity, biofuel, natural gas
and hydrogen could directly help reduce CO2 emissions.
Compressed methane can substitute for petrol in light
vehicles and replace diesel in heavier vehicles. In liquid
form, methane could also fuel heavy-duty vehicles and
ships. Compressed natural gas could reduce tailpipe
emissions by 25% compared to petrol or diesel, or 10% to
15% over a life cycle. The reduction in emissions would
depend on how electricity to power vehicles was generated.
Producing hydrogen from biomass or natural gas is relatively
expensive at present but could become commercially
feasible in the future.
Liquid and gas biofuels produced from crops are relatively
energy-dense and are mostly compatible with existing fuel
distribution infrastructure. Blends of ethanol and biodiesel
with petrol can fuel unmodified combustion engines or
slightly modified engines when the proportion of biofuel in
the blend is higher. Biofuels emit 30%–90% less greenhouse
gases than petrol or diesel. However, indirect emissions from
changes in land use and agriculture could lead to greater
total emissions. Successfully promoting the use of more
efficient vehicles, new technologies and more efficient fuels
requires changes in behaviour. These changes include:
• Purchasing: In order to encourage people to buy
efficient vehicles, policy-makers could set fuel economy
standards and lower taxes on efficient vehicles.
• Fuel economy and eco-driving: Poor driving and
traffic congestion can lower fuel economy. Policymakers
could improve traffic management, set up
intelligent transport systems and promote eco-driving,
especially for large, long-haul vehicles.
• Rebound effects: Low travel costs create demand. In
the USA, elasticity in fuel prices means that a reduction
of 50% results in a 2.5% to 15% increase in travel. The
rebound effect is higher where fuel prices represent
a high proportion of household income, such as in
developing countries.
Planning infrastructure to reduce emissions could avoid
lock-in to potentially high-emission systems. Emissions from
building and operating infrastructure could be reduced by
using low-carbon materials and low-carbon fuels.
Low-density development with extensive road networks
creates a greater demand for vehicles than high-density
development. Many people in high-density urban areas
in developing countries walk or cycle but inadequate
infrastructure often makes these modes of travel dangerous.
Urban population density inversely correlates with emissions
from land transport. Non-motorised transport becomes
more feasible as density increases but employment density,
street design and connectivity are also important factors.
8.4. Opportunities in the industrial sector
The vulnerability and climate adaptation
potential of African industries is largely
Little is currently known about the effects of mitigation on
industry, its potential and costs. Little is also understood
about the potential synergies or trade-offs in reducing
or increasing emissions from industry. Many adaptation
measures could raise demand for industrial products and
lead to more emissions, for example improving flood
defences may increase emissions from manufacturing
cement to build barricades.
58 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Box 19: How much does it cost to switch to lower-carbon transport options?
The costs of reducing emissions in the transport sector vary
according to the region, the country and the type of mitigation.
The approach to mitigation will depend on emission targets.
Successful mitigation will depend on shifting existing transport,
infrastructure and behaviour to lower emission options.
Vehicles: Light vehicles could be 50% more efficient by
2030 compared to 2010 at either low or negative social cost.
Reducing emissions associated with electric vehicles depends
on how the electricity they use has been generated. If
generation is high carbon, emissions saved by electric vehicles
are minimal. If generation is very low carbon, the mitigation
costs are US$200/t CO2. Better batteries in electric cars indicate
mitigation costs ranging between US$0/t CO2and US$100/t CO2.
Aircraft and ships: New aircraft are more efficient than older
types and already reduce CO2 emissions at negative social cost
over 10 to 15 years. Further 30%–40% reductions in CO2 by 2030
could be achieved with aircraft now being developed but the
mitigation potential is uncertain. In shipping emissions could
be reduced by 50%.
Rail: Reductions in emissions from rail transport could come
from electrification and switching to low-carbon electricity.
Substitute fuel: In all modes of transport, reducing emissions
by switching to another fuel depends on the type of substitute
fuel. Some biofuels have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions.
The CO2 emissions avoided by using biofuel depend on the net
CO2 reduction, the cost of biofuel compared to regular fuel, and
the cost of altering vehicles to use biofuels or biofuel blends.
Table 7: Climate mitigation policies
in the transport sector: co-benefits
and risks113
Policy Benefits Risks
Economic • Improved energy security as less fossil fuels are used
• Positive technology spillovers for example improved batteries
• Improved productivity as transport times decrease
Social • Reduced air pollution improves health in urban areas
• Less noise pollution
• Increased road safety
• Health benefits as people use less motorised vehicles
• Quieter vehicles could increase road risks
Environmental • Less urban pollution • Increased material use for new technology production
• Potential creation of new transport routes in otherwise
unused areas
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 59
Industrial emissions can be very significant
at a country level, depending on the structure
of the economy
Industrial emissions accounted for 30% of global
greenhouse gas emissions in 2010, more than emissions
from transport and building. Direct industrial emissions from
Africa were low but grew at 4.3% per year from 1970 to 2010,
above the average world growth rate (of 3.6%).
Industrial CO2 emissions include emissions from energy used
in mining and quarrying. Although mining and quarrying
use only 2.7% of global industrial energy they can be
quite significant emitters at the national level. In Botswana
and Namibia emissions from energy used in mining and
quarrying account for 80% of national emissions from
industrial use of energy, in Zimbabwe 18.6% and in South
Africa 15%. Manufacturing accounts for 98% of all direct CO2
emissions. Developing countries made the most progress
in reducing energy intensity in manufacturing 1995–2008
because they used more energy-efficient practices
and technologies, and because the type of goods they
produced changed.
Africa has abundant opportunities to adopt
efficient industrial processes that reduce or
avoid emissions
Reducing emissions from industry requires more than using
carbon and materials efficiently, recycling and re-using
materials, reducing demand, and becoming economically
and environmentally efficient. There are various options for
mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from industry.114
Energy efficiency: Although industry has made great strides
in energy efficiency over the last four decades, there is still
scope for improvement. Industrial processes such as heating,
refrigeration and combustion could be more energy
efficient. Better insulation, using excess heat for secondary
processes and recycling would also help reduce demand for
energy and so reduce emissions.
Emissions efficiency: Switching the fuels used by industry,
for example from coal to natural gas, would help reduce
emissions. Carbon capture and storage could also play a
significant role in reducing CO2 emissions from industry.
Decarbonising power generation, coupled with more use
of electricity by industry, could further reduce emissions.
Efficient use of resources: Industries could reduce emissions
by using materials more efficiently, cutting down on waste
and recycling.
Efficient product design. Less material could be used in
manufacturing many products without any detriment to
performance. The high cost of labour relative to materials
currently makes optimising design and production systems
unfeasible except in industries such as aerospace.
Reducing demand: Reducing demand for products is
another way of reducing industrial emissions. Behaviour
change campaigns could reduce demand for processed
products such as food where significant proportions are
currently wasted. Durable goods could be engineered to
last longer, thus requiring fewer to be produced.
Collaboration by clusters of companies and cross-sector
collaboration could also help reduce consumption
of materials by industries and contribute to reducing
greenhouse gas emissions. The clustering of companies,
for example in industrial parks, can encourage growth and
competitiveness as well as help reduce greenhouse gas
emissions. Benefits to companies include opportunities to
exchange by-products (e.g. heat), share infrastructure (e.g.
transport) and pool resources to invest in more energyefficient
technologies. Cooperation could help lessen
cumulative environmental impacts, for example through
recycling materials.
There are opportunities to mitigate emissions by co-locating
industries, for example, the cement industry could use
urban waste in some of its products and urban areas could
use industrial exhaust for heating.
Mitigation in non-industrial sectors could affect mitigation
efforts in industry. For example, demand for energy-efficient
technologies such as high-efficiency batteries could
raise emissions from the industries that produce them.
Conversely, demand for more efficient products such as
lighter vehicles could lower emissions.
Co-benefit and risk analysis shows that there are many
co-benefits associated with these opportunities and very
limited risks.
Climate mitigation approaches confer advantages in
competitiveness and in cutting costs. Improving energy
efficiency can be profitable, conserve natural resources,
reduce demand for fuel and save energy. Since industries
need energy security, improving energy efficiency could
reduce dependency on imported energy, maintain stability
and competitiveness, and lead to co-benefits such as
better health because of less pollution. Reducing emissions
also has multiple benefits – less pollution, less damage to
ecosystems, better health and lower emissions-related taxes.
Capturing and storing carbon could provide environmental
co-benefits. Reducing the use of materials could lower
production costs. Mitigation associated with co-benefits
such as improving local environmental quality can make
such activities more socially acceptable. The only real risk
identified by the Fifth Assessment Report was the possibility
of lower production because of changing consumer
demand, which could reduce demand for goods or
primary resources.
Information on the costs of mitigation in industry is limited.
Mitigation options that have been costed use different
methods and the results are not comparable. Mitigation
options are estimated to be profitable when emissions
are reduced within a range of 0–20 US$/tCO2eq. To reduce
emissions to zero, longer-term investments such as carbon
capture and storage would be needed. These investments
60 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
would increase costs to 50–150 US$/tCO2eq. Costs vary
regionally, and by country and site.
Non-financial barriers to mitigation in industry are
technological (maturity, reliability, safety), physical
(geography, infrastructure) and cultural (public acceptance,
human resources).
Barriers to improving energy efficiency in industry include
a failure to recognise the positive impacts (competitiveness,
lower costs), the long-term nature of return on investment
in energy efficiency, behavioural issues and access to capital.
Economic, regulatory, social and political barriers could
also discourage industry from taking measures to improve
energy efficiency and emissions efficiency, and to switch to
other fuels. The communication skills needed to convey the
benefits of recycling or preventing waste, which would lead
to less industrial production and fewer emissions, might
also be lacking. Products that have been redesigned in order
to use materials more efficiently might not be acceptable
to consumers.
8.5. Opportunities for urban areas
African towns and cities are very vulnerable to
climate change
The urban population in Africa is projected to triple by 2050,
increasing by 0.8 billion. African countries have some of the
world’s highest urbanisation rates. Many of Africa’s evolving
cities are unplanned, surrounded by informal settlements
and poverty, and have inadequate housing and basic
Climate change is among many drivers of rural-urban
migration. This means that changes in climate could affect
rural and urban settlements in Africa. Most migration caused
by changes in the environment is within countries.
African cities and towns are very vulnerable to climatic
changes and climate variability. Rapid urbanisation calls
for significant investment to create jobs, and provide
infrastructure and services. Basic infrastructure services lag
behind urban growth. Slums and poor areas typically have
neither flood protection nor the wherewithal to manage
floods when they happen.
Infrastructure and services: Small- and medium-sized cities
have limited capacity to deal with current or future climatic
risks. Although cities are usually better serviced than rural
areas, for example with piped water, sanitation, schools and
healthcare, and people on average generally live longer
than in rural areas, poor infrastructure may shorten life spans
under changes in climate. Many cities in sub-Saharan Africa
not only have inadequate piped water, sewers and drains,
but also have very limited capacity to invest in improving
services. The amount required to adapt existing water
infrastructure may be US$1–2.7 billion a year. More would
be required to deal with deficient infrastructure. Another
US$1–2.6 billion a year would be required for new water
storage, wastewater treatment and electricity plants to
counter changes in climate.
Floods: Low-lying deltaic cities, Alexandria on the River Nile,
and Benin City, Port Harcourt and Aba on the River Niger,
are particularly vulnerable to flooding caused by a rise in
sea level as a result of changes in climate. Floods also affect
many cities and towns across Africa. Floods and mudslides
caused by heavy rain in East Africa in 2002 forced tens of
thousands of people to leave their homes in Rwanda, Kenya,
Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda. Serious floods affected Port
Harcourt and Addis Ababa in 2006.
A rise in sea level could disrupt economic activities such
as tourism and fisheries in coastal towns and cities. Over
a quarter of Africa’s population lives within 100 km of the
coast. Urban areas account for half the population living in
low-lying coastal zones (see Box 21, coastal flooding threats
to African cities).
Table 8: Industry mitigation policy
co-benefits and risks115
Policy Benefits Risks
Economic • Improved competitiveness and productivity
• Increased energy efficiency leading to improved energy security
• Positive employment impacts due to new or expanded industries
such as waste recycling
• Technological spillovers into other sectors
• New or improved infrastructure for industry
• Potential for lower tax revenue as demand for goods
Social • Fewer health risks due to decreased pollution
• More employment opportunities
• Better water availability and quality
• Better worker safety conditions
Environmental • Less pollution and better water conservation
• Reduced use of materials through recycling
Panos | Solar training course, Kenya
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 61
62 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Box 20: How could transformation look in African countries’ industrial sectors?116
The scenarios for emissions projected to 2100 assume
economic growth as well as growth in the industrial sector.
Scenarios to 2050 indicate that Africa will produce more iron,
steel and cement. All scenarios indicate that the demand for
energy from industry will rise. By 2100, however, projections
indicate that the link between demand for energy from
industry and CO2 emissions could be weak because of
improvements in energy productivity. The scenarios show that
the demand for energy from industry could be highest in Asia,
followed by Africa, and that growth in demand could slow in
the last decade of the century.
Scenarios for Africa show little variation in demand for
energy from industry by 2100. If Africa takes opportunities
for mitigation now the same amount of energy could be
generated for lower CO2 emissions.
After 2050, projections indicate that emissions from industry
could be very low under certain scenarios. Emissions from
energy consumed by industry could decrease up to 2100,
especially where there are measures to capture and store
carbon, and where there is a shift to low-carbon energy.
Mitigating emissions in the industrial sector will require
significant investment. However, Africa has opportunities to
leapfrog unsustainable growth and go straight to technologies
that use less energy and materials, and generate fewer
emissions. Opportunities for green growth are greatest where
industries are growing.
Box 21: Coastal flooding threats to African cities
Western Africa: There are few economic assessments of the
risks posed by climate change to coastal cities in western Africa.
Many cities, industries, infrastructure and tourist facilities, for
example in Cotonou, Lagos and Dakar, will be hard to protect.
Large areas of these and other important economic centres in
the Gulf of Guinea, including Abidjan and Port Harcourt, are
close to mean sea level, and very vulnerable to erosion and
rising sea level. Rapid construction, destruction of mangrove
swamps and inadequate refuse management compound
the risks posed by climate change.
Eastern Africa: In eastern Africa, an assessment of the impact
of coastal flooding on Kenya due to a rise in sea level found
that 10,000–86,000 people could be affected by 2030.
The economic cost could be between US$7 million and
US$58million.117 Detailed assessments have also been made of
the impact of extreme events on some coastal cities, including
Mombasa and Dar-es-Salaam. In Mombasa, by 2030, 170,700–
266,300 people and assets worth US$0.68–1.06 billion could
be at risk In Dar-es-Salaam, by 2030, 30,300–110,000 inhabitants
and assets worth US$35.6–404.1 million could be at risk.118 Both
assessments consider three population growth scenarios and
four sea-level rise scenarios. The sea-level rise scenarios were
also used in a broader assessment of risks to the coast of Kenya.
The scale of damage projected for specific cities highlights the
risks from extreme events coupled with a rise in sea level.
Mombasa may need significant capital investment to redesign
and rebuild ports, protect cement plants and oil refineries,
and relocate industries inland. However, projects such as the
rehabilitation of 220 hectares of old quarries – now the Haller
Park attracting more than 150,000 visitors a year – show that
adapting to climate change can have positive effects.
Southern Africa: In southern Africa, Durban, Cape Town and
the uMhlathuze local municipality have assessed the risks from
climate change impacts. The risk assessments covered business,
tourism, air quality, health, food security, infrastructure, services,
biodiversity and water resources.
Northern Africa: Risks are similar to the risks to eastern and
southern Africa. By the end of the 21st century, about 23%, 42%
and 49% of the coastal governorates of the Nile Delta would
be susceptible to inundation under low, medium and high
warming scenarios. Most of these areas are now either wetland
or undeveloped.119 A study assessing the economic impact
of a rise in sea level on the Nile Delta suggested that damage
to housing and roads would be 1–2 billion Egyptian Pounds
(EGP) in 2030 and 2–16 billion EGP in 2060 under medium and
high-emissions scenarios and the current trend in the rise of
sea level.120
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 63
African cities have the potential to embrace
more systematic adaptation approaches
Since 2007, African countries have conceptualised, planned
and begun to implement and support adaptation activities
at local to national level and across a growing range of
sectors. However, across the continent, most adaptation
to climate variability and change is reactive, short term, at
the individual or household level, and is not supported by
government stakeholders and policies.
Rapidly urbanising countries in Africa have
the most opportunities for climate mitigation
Rapidly urbanising countries have the most opportunities
for mitigation:
Macro scale: Regional strategies and plans could help
minimise the effects of urbanisation on the environment
and maximise the effectiveness of large infrastructure
projects. Urban containment and live-work developments
could encourage cities to grow inwards and upwards.
Meso scale: Development of ‘districts’ or ‘corridors’.
Micro scale: Urban regeneration, making cities compact and
cycle and pedestrian friendly, ‘transit-oriented development’
where neighbourhoods are hubs of city-wide public
transport systems, and pedestrian and car-restricted zones.
In rapidly developing cities, there are opportunities to
integrate planning for urbanisation and infrastructure. In
established cities, there are opportunities for retrofit.
Opportunities for urban mitigation vary according to urban
development trajectories. Policies are more effective when
bundled together. Policy options include:
Land-use regulations and redesigning urban areas:
Regulations for land use and other aspects of urban
development could promote either low or high-density
development. Restrictions could spell out what land can
or cannot be used for, for example residential, commercial
or industrial use. Policies could co-locate residential and
employment areas. Regulations on density could stipulate
the minimum or maximum density for residential units,
and the size and height of buildings. Building codes could
specify the energy efficiency of buildings and parking
regulations could help limit vehicular use.
Land management and acquisition: Land management
and acquisition policies could shape development by
landowners and direct new developments to areas where
development would be desirable. Policies that expand
green spaces and urban carbon sinks could help sequester
urban carbon emissions.
Market instruments: Taxes such as property taxes could
promote compact urban areas by taxing large plots of
lands. Development taxes could help control urban growth
by internalising externalities associated with urban land
development. Pricing policies for fuel and transport could
make using personal vehicles less attractive and encourage
use of public transport.
Table 9: Low-regrets actions in urban
climate adaptation121
Reducing vulnerability through development and planning (low-regrets measures)
Human development – safe settlements
Disaster risk management – improve drainage, flood and cyclone shelters, building codes, storm and wastewater management, and transport and road
Ecosystem management – maintain and improve urban green spaces
Spatial or land-use planning – provide housing, infrastructure and services, manage development in flood prone and other high-risk areas,
upgrade urban areas
Incremental and transformational adaptation
Engineered and built environment – build sea walls and coastal protection structures, flood levees, improve drainage, flood and cyclone shelters, building
codes, storm and wastewater management, transport and road infrastructure, and build floating houses
Technologies – building insulation, mechanical and passive cooling, and water-saving technologies
Ecosystems – green infrastructure including shade trees and green roofs
Services – municipal services including water and sanitation
Laws and regulations – building standards, define property rights and land tenure security
Government policies and programmes – urban upgrading programmes, municipal water management programmes, and disaster planning
and preparedness
Social – prepare households, evacuation and migration plans
64 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Box 22: Urban-rural interaction
Rural and urban areas have always been closely connected
but, in recent decades, new relationships have emerged.
The boundaries between rural and urban areas are now
less defined than previously and new types of land use
and economic activity are appearing. These changes
are important for understanding the impacts of climate
change, vulnerabilities and opportunities for adaptation.
Climate extremes in rural areas can have an impact
on urban areas: Migration and movement of resources
between rural and urban areas mean that climate
extremes that affect water supplies, agriculture and the
habitability of rural areas have ripple effects on cities. For
example, water shortages in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in the
last few decades are attributed to droughts in rural areas.
Rural-urban interface: Changes in agricultural potential,
economic marginalisation and human health can be
overlooked because they are neither in the rural nor in
the urban domain. For example, in Tanzania and Malawi,
agricultural extension services do not reach peri-urban
farmers. However, developing peri-urban areas could
build resilience to climate shocks. For example, good
transport connections could provide access to jobs
and improve access to education, thus reducing risks
associated with disasters.
Integrated infrastructure and services: Interdependent
rural and urban systems can put rural areas at risk. Urban
demands often take preference in the allocation of
resources. Rural areas can suffer resource shortages or
other disruptions in order to sustain cities.
Box 23: Climate-change adaptation in
Cape Town122
Cape Town’s climate change framework (2009) aims to
reduce emergencies and prepare for climate change,
by regulating informal housing for example. Community
partnerships such as the partnership between the
Cape Flats Nature Project and the parastatal South
African National Biodiversity Institute work to conserve
biodiversity. Schools and organisations taking part in
the project explore flood risk management and restoring
Cape Town has also taken action to safeguard future water
supplies. Studies of water management commissioned
by the city identified the need to plan for climate change,
and population and economic growth. During the 2005
drought, local authorities raised water tariffs to encourage
efficient use of water. Other measures that may be taken
include water restrictions, re-using grey water, educating
consumers and introducing technologies such as low-flow
or dual-flush toilets.
Box 24: Green infrastructure in
Durban recognises that services provided by biodiversity
and ecosystems can reduce vulnerability to changes in
climate and has made these services part of its climate
change adaptation strategy. In the Community Restoration
Programme, communities raise seedlings of native trees
for restoring forests. The approach taken by Durban shows
the value of tapping into local knowledge to enhance
existing protected areas and land-use practices. These
kinds of local initiatives can also provide job and business
opportunities, and develop skills.
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 65
Where authorities are successful in channelling funds
into urban climate mitigation activities, these can
yield significant co-benefits, including saving public
funds, preventing pollution, and improving health
and productivity:
Urban air quality: Urban planning that promotes for
example cleaner fuels, public transport and energy
efficiency can help improve air quality. Such planning could
be particularly beneficial in Africa as there are various urban
zones where air pollution is significant.
Energy security: Urban mitigation measures that shift
transport away from fossil fuel could help decrease reliance
on imported fuels and improve energy security.
Health benefits: Cities that provide infrastructure to
encourage walking and cycling could improve the health of
their populations. Reducing urban traffic could also improve
cardiovascular health and reduce sleep disturbances.
Africa is exposed to many stresses that coupled with climate
change mean that adaptation needs to consider institutions,
social issues, infrastructure, ecosystems, the environment,
investment and capacity. Overall, the benefits of mitigation
in urban areas seem to be greater than the risks. The
effectiveness of mitigation measures in urban areas,
however, depends on strategies in other sectors, particularly
transport and energy.
Barriers to urban climate change mitigation
are mainly in governance and financing
Political will influences the extent to which opportunities
to mitigate emissions can be taken and appropriate
policies enacted. The capacity of national and government
institutions responsible for urban development
determines the extent to which urban mitigation policies
can be implemented. Weak local government creates
and exacerbates problems such as: lack of appropriate
regulations and mandates; poor or no planning; lack of or
poor data; lack of disaster risk reduction strategies; poor
services and infrastructure (particularly waste management
and drainage); uncontrolled settlement in high-risk areas
such as floodplains, wetlands and coastal zones; ecosystem
degradation; competing development priorities and
timelines; and lack of coordination among government
Financing for urban infrastructure originates from many
sources leading to difficulties in earmarking financing for
mitigation. Cities in developing countries that have secured
financing for mitigation have tended to tap international
climate change finance. Local taxes could help raise funds
for mitigation, but taxes on urban development may push
new developments to rural areas where there are no taxes.
Table 10: Urbanisation mitigation
policies co-benefits and risks124
Policy Benefits Risks
Economic • Innovation and efficient resource use in cities
• Commuters save time and money
• Higher rents
• Higher rents
Social • Better health from more physical activity
• More social interaction and better mental health
Environmental • Preservation of urban open spaces
• Better air quality and lower ecosystem impact
66 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Image: Panos | Masai women on solar training course, Kenya
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 67
Since the IPCC’s formation in 1992, its work has given us
a better understanding of climate science, provided us
a better picture of the range of vulnerabilities in different
parts of the world, and reviewed the range of potential
policy options and their implementation in a range
of country contexts. The Fifth Assessment Report
provides the strongest warning yet that the scientific
evidence of climate change is firmer than ever. The
report also indicates that waiting or doing nothing
is no longer an option, and makes a compelling case
that the world needs to act now on climate change.
African governments can promote ambitious
global action
Ambitious climate mitigation at the global level must start
now in order to limit the magnitude of long-term climate
change and reduce the risks. Delaying action on mitigation
will not only mean that adaptation costs will rise, but
will substantially increase the difficulty of transitioning,
globally, towards a low-emissions development pathway as
countries invest in low-cost but potentially carbon-intensive
infrastructure.125 Between 15% and 40% of emitted carbon
dioxide will remain in the atmosphere for more than 1,000
years. This creates a major intergenerational challenge in
terms of rights and responsibilities to act on climate change.
The Fifth Assessment Report provides a global carbon budget:
it says that for the world to limit average global warming
to less than 2°C, total emissions from human activity
should not exceed 800–1,000 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide
equivalent. To date, human activity has released
500 gigatonnes.126
The world’s governments have pledged to limit warming
to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Above the 2°C warming
threshold, climate change impacts become severe and
unmanageable. Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions
would limit warming to 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels
and avoid dangerous climate change. The IPCC states
that under this ambitious scenario, emissions would
peak in Africa by 2030 then decline.127 The need for deep
cuts in emissions to limit warming to the 2°C threshold
is a central theme of the section of the Fifth Assessment
Report on climate mitigation. Warming of 2°C alone would
pose a significant threat to economic growth and human
development in Africa (see page X). The African Common
Position on Climate Change promotes a 1.5°C warming
threshold as more appropriate for Africa.
In 2010, governmental Parties to the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
meeting in Cancun128 pledged to reduce emissions to
achieve the long-term goal of limiting global warming to
2°C above pre-industrial temperatures. The Fifth Assessment
Report finds that the actual governmental pledges made at
and since Cancun fall short of what is needed to achieve
the long-term goal.
Here lies an uncomfortable paradox. Africa’s historic
contribution to the build-up of greenhouse gas emissions
has been relatively small but the cost of climate change it
will face to human wellbeing and ecosystems in the region
is, and will continue to be, large. Over large parts of Africa,
warming could exceed 2oC by 2050 and rise by as much as
2.6–4.8oC by the end of the century (under the medium and
high-emissions scenarios).129
To be cost-effective on a global scale, most mitigation needs
to take place in countries projected to have the highest
emissions in the future. But it is important to recognise
that, although deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are
technically possible, making such cuts will entail substantial
technological, economic, institutional and behavioural
The IPCC also finds that mitigation efforts and the costs of
mitigation vary between countries; developing countries
have a significant proportion of the opportunities for lowcost
mitigation.130 As such, African countries can play a role
in global climate stabilisation efforts by taking advantage
of low-carbon options where it is advantageous to do
so, thereby avoiding future emissions. For example, there
are opportunities to reduce deforestation by adopting
sustainable practices, plan innovative low-carbon towns
and cities, and develop land-use schemes that intensify
agricultural practices and sustainably manage livestock.
Such actions can bring large co-benefits beyond reducing
the impacts of climate change. Nevertheless, it is also
important to recognise that Africa will need substantial
financial support for mitigation and that it will have to be
a shared effort.
The Fifth Assessment Report explicitly states that, because
the atmosphere is a global commons, we will not achieve
effective mitigation if individual countries advance their
interests independently. International cooperation is
9 The way forward
68 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
essential to limit greenhouse gas emissions effectively and
to address other climate change issues such as building
resilience and capacity in regions such as Africa.131
A robust case for adaptation action now
Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts
are projected to slow down economic growth and make
poverty reduction more difficult. Africa as a whole is one of
the most vulnerable continents to the impacts of climate
change due to its high exposure and low adaptive capacity.
The IPCC’s assessment of significant impacts in a 2°C world
at the end of the 21st century shows that, even under high
levels of adaptation, there could be very high levels of risk
for Africa. To manage these risks, climate adaptation and
mitigation actions must be taken without delay.
Adaptation is place and context specific, with no single
approach for reducing risks appropriate across all settings
(high confidence). Effective risk reduction and adaptation
strategies consider the dynamics of vulnerability and
exposure and their linkages with processes, sustainable
development and climate change.
Adaptation planning and implementation can be
enhanced through complementary actions across levels
of government. National governments can coordinate
adaptation efforts of local and subnational governments,
for example by protecting vulnerable groups, by supporting
economic diversification, and by providing information,
policy and legal frameworks, and financial support. Local
government and the private sector are increasingly
recognised as critical to progress in adaptation, given their
roles in scaling up adaptation of communities, households
and civil society, and in managing risk information and
Exploiting the opportunities of mitigation
action for Africa, and managing the trade-offs
The IPCC’s Working Group III (Mitigation) Co-Chairs have
categorised the array of mitigation options as a map; across
which each country’s policy-makers, and the collective
global community, must use the political process to
navigate. When the report says that investment in zero or
low-carbon energy will have to treble or quadruple globally
to meet the global mitigation requirement, it also says that
countries will have to choose which particular zero and lowcarbon
technologies are most appropriate for them.
African policy-makers must address widespread, suppressed
demand for energy services to meet their societies’
development needs. The Fifth Assessment Report provides
an evidence base on zero and low-carbon solutions, some
of which are proven in the African context, others of which
are proven elsewhere and are yet to be tested at scale in
Africa. The Fifth Assessment Report also emphasises the need
for sequestration of carbon at a global scale to redress the
‘mitigation gap’ that global society has created through its
unsustainable emissions to date.
The IPCC’s call for a much wider embrace of land- based
mitigation solutions such as reforestation and reducing
emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD)
provides an opportunity for African countries – where such
activities are tied to increased sources of funding and can
deliver multiple co-benefits for human development. The
calls upon scarce land resources to contribute to climate
mitigation solutions also illustrate the tensions between
mitigation and development approaches. It will take strong
institutions and governance for African countries to identify
the trade-offs, opportunities and risks of mitigation activities
such as these and steer a course that is environmentally
sound – and fair.
Paying for climate action
Developed countries have committed to a goal of jointly
mobilising US$100 billion per year from various sources by
2020 for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.
As yet, there is no agreement on how these funds should be
allocated between mitigation and adaptation, nor between
developing countries and regions. What is clear is that Africa
needs the resources to build viable adaptation frameworks
and capabilities, and to develop critical infrastructures
for development. Provision of climate finance through
the Global Climate Fund or other schemes is one way of
mobilising resources to support adaptation and mitigation
action in Africa.
What’s next for African voters and leaders
The Fifth Assessment Report is clear that the global
community must commit to far higher ambition in cutting
greenhouse gas emissions. However, the ‘policy relevant
but not policy prescriptive’ IPCC does not offer guidance on
the relative burden that different countries should bear with
regard to their mitigation commitments. This is the realm
of ethics and value judgments, with which politicians and
voters must engage.
The IPCC’s key messages provide crystal clear implications
for the global climate negotiations process. The IPCC
states categorically that the Cancun pledges for emissions
reduction by 2020 are insufficient,132 but could be the basis
for something more ambitious. This is what the international
process must deliver.
African leaders have an important part to play – with all
other international leaders – in forging this commitment to
ambitious, collective action. An important part of reaching
a global agreement is ensuring that the cooperative spirit is
in place, effort-sharing is recognised and financial resources
are made available to invest in adaptation programmes and
low-emissions infrastructure.
Panos | Goat herder, Nakapelimen, Uganda
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 69
70 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Societies and economies impact climate
Climate impacts societies and economies
The physical
science WG1 Impacts of
climate change WG2 Mitigation of
climate change WG3 Synthesis report
Working groups
Climate indicators
1st drafts and reviews
Final drafts
Final approval meetings
2nd drafts and reviews
IPCC process
Social and economic impacts and risks
830 expert authors
from 85 countries, specialising in:
social scienceseconomicsoceanographystatistics
national governments
signed off by
CO2 concentration
Ocean pH
Sea level rise
Impact on seasons Ocean warming
Glacial melt
Arctic summer sea ice
Surface temperature
Banking & insurance
Military & security
Urban planning & transport
Extractive industry
Farming & fishing
Cli mat e
Ever y o n e’s bu sin e ss
The process behind the Fif th Assessment Repor t (AR5) of the
UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Improved satellite
Paleoclimate data
3,000 Argo floats
observation capability
for long-term
monitoring the
world’s oceans
How the IPCC works
The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa? — 71
The principal authors of this report are Elizabeth Carabine
and Alberto Lemma, Overseas Development Institute (ODI).
Mairi Dupar and Lindsey Jones, Climate and Development
Knowledge Network (CDKN), Yacob Mulugetta of the
University of Surrey, Nicola Ranger of the UK’s Department
for International Development and Maarten van Aalst
of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre made
substantive contributions.
Dr Mulugetta is a Coordinating Lead Author of the Fifth
Assessment’s Working Group III report (chapter on energy
systems) and member of the core writing team of the
Synthesis Report. Dr van Aalst is a Lead Author of the Fifth
Assessment’s Working Group II report (chapter on regional
context) and Technical Summary. He was also a Coordinating
Lead Author of the IPCC’s Special Report on Managing the
Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate
Change Adaptation (SREX, chapter on determinants of risk),
and member of the core writing team of the SREX Summary
for Policymakers.
The report benefited from the insightful review comments
of Ari Huhtala and Tom Mitchell, CDKN, together with
Maliza van Eeden, Shehnaaz Moussa and Simbisai Zhanje,
CDKN and Andrew Scott, ODI. Thanks to Sandra Child of
Scriptoria for editorial support
and Paulien Hosang of Soapbox for design and layout.
For correspondence about this report and CDKN’s
programme in Africa, please write to:
72 — The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report | What’s in it for Africa?
Adaptation: The process of adjustment to actual or
expected climate and its effects. In human systems,
adaptation seeks to moderate harm or exploit beneficial
opportunities. In natural systems, human intervention may
facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects.
Greenhouse gas: Greenhouse gases are those gaseous
constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and caused
by human activity. Greenhouse gases trap energy from
the sun in the atmosphere causing it to warm. Water
vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O),
methane (CH4), and ozone (O3) are the primary greenhouse
gases in the Earth’s atmosphere; while hexafluoride (SF6),
hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
are also of concern. Moreover, there are a number of
entirely human-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,
such as halocarbons and other chlorine- and brominecontaining
Maladaptive actions (or maladaptation): Actions that may
lead to increased risk of adverse climate-related outcomes,
increased vulnerability to climate change, or diminished
welfare, now or in the future.
Mitigation (of climate change): A human intervention
to reduce the sources of greenhouse gases or enhance
the sinks (those processes, activities, or mechanisms that
remove a greenhouse gas from the atmosphere).
Representative concentration pathways (RCPs): Scenarios
that include time series of emissions and concentrations
of the full suite of greenhouse gases and aerosols and
chemically active gases, as well as land use and land cover.
The word ‘representative’ signifies that each RCP provides
only one of many possible scenarios that would lead to the
specific radiative forcing characteristics (i.e., greenhouse gasrelated
warming). The term ‘pathway’ emphasises that not
only the long-term concentration levels are of interest, but
also the trajectory taken over time to reach that outcome.
Resilience: The capacity of a social-ecological system to
cope with a hazardous event or disturbance, responding
or reorganising in ways that maintain its essential function,
identity, and structure, while also maintaining the capacity
for adaptation, learning, and transformation.
Scenario: A plausible description of how the future may
develop based on a coherent and internally consistent
set of assumptions about key driving forces (e.g. rate of
technological change, prices) and relationships. Note
that scenarios are neither predictions nor forecasts,
but are useful to provide a view of the implications of
developments and actions.
Social protection: In the context of development aid and
climate policy, social protection usually describes public
and private initiatives that provide income or consumption
transfers to the poor, protect the vulnerable against
livelihood risks, and enhance the social status and rights
of the marginalised, with the overall objective of reducing
the economic and social vulnerability of poor, vulnerable,
and marginalised groups.
Transformation: A change in the fundamental attributes of
a system, often based on altered paradigms, goals, or values.
Transformations can occur in technological or biological
systems, financial structures, and regulatory, legislative,
or administrative regimes.
Vulnerability: The propensity or predisposition to be
adversely affected. Vulnerability encompasses a variety
of concepts including sensitivity or susceptibility to harm
and lack of capacity to cope and adapt.

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