Global warming poses threat to Africa’s people and plants, Greenpeace warns

AFRICA faces a future of heatwaves, droughts and floods and could lose many of its endemic species due to climate change, a Greenpeace study shows.

The continent could warm by an average of 2°C-6°C by the end of this century, largely due to warming caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions, Greenpeace Research Laboratories said in a report released on Monday.

That will result in more frequent heatwaves across the continent, less rain in southern and northern Africa and more precipitation in central and East Africa. With more than half the world’s poor living on the continent, it is expected to be among the world’s hardest-hit regions by climate change as people have few resources to adjust and cope.

‘Science shows there is very little that is natural in the disasters striking our continent,’ Greenpeace Africa programme director Melitta Steele said.

Depending on how hot it gets, the inhabitants of Lagos, Abidjan, Luanda and Kinshasa — four of the continent’s biggest cities — could begin experiencing heat stress due to periods of elevated temperatures, the study reads. Only Khartoum in Sudan is in danger now from this phenomenon, which causes people’s core temperature to rise due to external factors.

Some projections show South Africa’s unique Cape Floral region, accounting for one-fifth of the continent’s plant biodiversity, could lose more than a third of its 5,682 plant species, the report reads. Many plant species could also disappear from Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains.

Still, other studies project less severe temperature rises. The World Meteorological Organisation predicted a 2°C rise in temperature by 2100 from pre-industrial times in its first report on climate in Africa released in October.

‘It is very clear that global heating acts as a threat multiplier, exacerbating existing vulnerabilities such as poverty and inequality by driving extreme weather events,’ Greenpeace said in the report. ‘The African continent is highly vulnerable to the impacts of global heating.’

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