Environment

The UK announced its biggest direct commitment to tackle climate change in Africa

Africa is responsible for just 3% of global emissions. Yet it’ll be the worst hit by climate change.

Image: Nasief Manie/AP

Image: Nasief Manie/AP

The UK government has announced a new commitment to tackle climate change across Africa, drive an ambitious move to efficient low-carbon economies, and build resilience to the potentially devastating effects of climate change.

Despite the fact Africa as a continent is responsible for 2% to 3% of global emissions, it’s set to be the worst affected by the adverse weather conditions caused by climate change — like rising temperatures and uncertain rainfall.

We’re already seeing these global weather patterns, and hotter temperatures and extreme weather across Africa are already having a profound impact on the lives and livelihoods of communities.

International Development Secretary Rory Stewart announced the new aid package while on a two-day trip to Kenya, where he saw firsthand the impact that extreme weather is already having — and had a glimpse of what is set to come.

“We are facing a global climate emergency,” said Stewart, during a visit on July 12 to a village in Marsabit County in northern Kenya that has been badly affected by drought. “Polluted air, rising sea levels, and increasing temperatures are felt by everyone in the world.”

“We must all play our part to protect the environment, wildlife, vulnerable families, and communities — and this includes investing in renewable energy,” he added.

“I am today announcing DfID’s biggest ever single direct aid investment in climate and the environment across Africa,” Stewart continued. “This builds on my ambition to double DfID’s efforts on this issue globally. Tackling climate change is of direct benefit to everyone living on this planet, including of course in the UK.”

In the village Loiyangalani, in 2017, villagers experienced the worst drought for over five years — leaving people and their livestock facing death, disease, and starvation.

Stewart also visited the coastal town of Lamu, in southern Kenya, where mangrove trees act as a vital natural flood defence to protect the community from storms.

But these trees are also among the world’s most threatened vegetation, and nearly 40% of Lamu’s mangroves have already been destroyed, and communities left exposed.

Meanwhile, at Ol Pejeta conservancy in central Kenya, Stewart saw the last two northern white rhino on the planet — a sub-species on the brink of extinction, after their habitats have been impacted by human conflict, and cattle herders needing food for their livestock.

Over the next five years, the new £250 million UK aid package will ensure that UK expertise and experience can work with developing countries to improve resilience, and we can move together away from fossil fuels and onto cleaner energy sources.

The UK government will be working in partnership with governments in Africa, according to the Department for International Development (DfID), as well as local organisations and communities to drive the effort.

Tackling climate change is a global problem and, if we don’t, the impact will be felt globally. So ultimately, we’ll all benefit from action taken right now.

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