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African countries spending billions to cope with climate crisis, says report

The Guardian | According to a new analysis by the think tank Power Shift Africa, African countries are being forced to spend billions of dollars each year to deal with the repercussions of the climate crisis, diverting investment away from schools and hospitals and aggravating poverty.

According to research by the thinktank Power Shift Africa, dealing with extreme weather costs up to 6% of GDP in Ethiopia alone, corresponding to a spend of more than $1 repairing climate damage for every $20 of national wealth.

The warning comes after the release of a significant new scientific report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world's leading authority on climate science (IPCC).

This report, the second part of the IPCC's comprehensive review of global climate science, will examine the worldwide repercussions of climate breakdown, including floods, droughts, heatwaves, and storms that have a negative impact on agricultural systems, water supply, and infrastructure.

Efforts to make infrastructure and communities more resilient have faltered as global temperatures have climbed in recent decades and the effect of extreme weather has been more visible around the world.

Despite having done the least to exacerbate the climate disaster, Africa will be one of the hardest afflicted regions. According to the Power Shift Africa report, Adapt or Die: An analysis of African climate adaptation plans, African countries will spend an average of 4% of GDP on climate adaptation.

Some of the world's poorest people live in these countries, and their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is many times lower than that of people in developed countries or large growing economies like China. Sierra Leone will have to invest $90 million per year to adapt to the climate problem, despite the fact that its residents emit around 0.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year on average, compared to nearly 80 times more in the United States.

"This analysis demonstrated the deep injustice of the climate issue," said Adow, director of Power Shift Africa. Some of the world's poorest countries are forced to spend precious resources to adjust to a crisis that is not their fault. Despite having small carbon footprints in comparison to the developed world, many African countries are hit by droughts, storms, and floods, straining already tight state finances and restricting their ability to address other issues."

He appealed for additional investment from affluent countries and vowed to quadruple the amount of money available to help poor countries adapt to the climate problem at the UN's Cop26 climate meeting.

In 2009, wealthy countries pledged $100 billion per year to assist poor countries in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dealing with the consequences of climate change.

The study investigated national adaptation plans submitted to the UN by seven African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, and Togo. Last year, flooding in South Sudan, the world's second poorest country, displaced 850,000 people and caused outbreaks of water-borne diseases. The country plans to spend $376 million on adaptation per year, or around 3.1 percent of GDP.

Chukwumerije Okereke, Director of the Alex Ekwueme Federal University's Centre for Climate Change and Development, said affluent countries must respond to the results of the IPCC report.

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