World Bank attempts to protect Africa from climate change

BARCELONA, Spain (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — The World Bank wants to direct more funding into efforts to help African countries withstand climate change and boost their clean energy production.

The $16 billion Africa Climate Business Plan identifies investments that will make the continent’s people, land, water and cities more resilient to droughts, floods, storms and rising seas, increase access to green energy and strengthen early warning systems.

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said sub-Saharan Africa is “highly vulnerable to climate shocks,” which could have deep effects on areas as varied as child stunting, malaria and food price increases.

“This plan identifies concrete steps that African governments can take to ensure that their countries will not lose hard won gains in economic growth and poverty reduction, and they can offer some protection from climate change,” he added.

The plan outlines measures for fast-tracking adaptation to climate change, which would cost US$10.7 billion from 2016-20.

They include helping 10 million farmers adopt resource-efficient techniques and hardier crop varieties, improving water management in the Niger, Lake Chad and Zambezi basins, reducing coastal erosion, strengthening flood protection and restoring degraded land and forests.

The plan said the African region requires $5 to $10 billion a year to prepare for global warming of 2 C, which could rise to $20 to $50 billion by mid-century.

However, experts say pledges from 170 countries to curb their planet-warming emissions would still permit global average temperatures to increase by 2.7 to 3.7 C from pre-industrial times, suggesting adaptation costs will be higher.

Levels of funding for adaptation in Africa amount to an annual $3 billion at most, “which is negligible considering the needs,” the World Bank plan said.

The bank said its plan’s emphasis on climate adaptation fitted priorities expressed by African states in their national action plans submitted as a basis for a climate change deal that is hoped to be reached at the United Nations summit in Paris.

Funding for climate action is likely to be a sticking point at the UN negotiations. Developed countries are reluctant to commit to increasing the $100 billion a year they have promised to mobilize for poorer nations worldwide by 2020, when a new agreement would take effect.

The World Bank plan also aims to invest in boosting solar, hydro and geothermal generation capacity and provide five million off-grid consumers with access to modern energy services by 2023, when the funding would have produced results.

The cost of that part of the plan is estimated at $5.4 billion.

The bank said it expected to contribute $5.7 billion to achieve the $16.1 billion plan, as part of an effort to increase the share of its own financing dedicated to climate action by one-third by 2020.

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