African countries are being forced to spend billions of dollars a year coping with the effects of the climate crisis, which is diverting potential investment from schools and hospitals and threatens to drive countries into ever deeper poverty.
Dealing with extreme weather is costing close to 6% of GDP in Ethiopia alone, equating to a spend of more than $1 repairing climate damage for every $20 of national income, according to research by the thinktank Power Shift Africa.
The warning comes just before the major new scientific report from the global authority on climate science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This report, the second part of the IPCC’s comprehensive summary of global climate science, will set out the consequences of climate breakdown across the world, looking at the floods, droughts, heatwaves and storms that are affecting food systems, water supplies and infrastructure. As global temperatures have risen in recent decades, and as the impact of extreme weather has become more apparent around the world, efforts to make infrastructure and communities more resilient have largely stalled.
Africa will be one of the worst-hit regions, despite having done least to cause the climate crisis. According to the Power Shift Africa study, titled Adapt or Die: An analysis of African climate adaptation strategies, African countries will spend an average of 4% of GDP on adapting to climate breakdown.
These countries include some of the world’s poorest people, whose responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions is many times less than those of people in developed countries, or in large emerging economies such as China. Sierra Leone will have to spend $90m a year on adapting to the climate crisis, though its citizens are responsible for about 0.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year each, while US citizens generate about 80 times more.
Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, said: “This report shows the deep injustice of the climate…