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UN-backed report reveals rising climate change risk across Africa

UN-backed report reveals rising climate change risk across Africa

The State of the Climate in Africa 2020 report highlights the continent’s disproportionate vulnerability but also reveals how investing in climate adaptation, early warning systems, and weather and climate services, can pay off.

Petteri Taalas, the WMO Secretary-General, said the climate indicators in Africa during last year were characterized by continued warming temperatures, accelerating sea-level rise, extreme weather, and climate events - such as floods, landslides and droughts.

Iconic glaciers shrinking

“The rapid shrinking of the last remaining glaciers in eastern Africa, which are expected to melt entirely in the near future, signals the threat of imminent and irreversible change to the Earth system,” he warned.

Only three mountains in Africa are covered by glaciers: the Mount Kenya massif, the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda, and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Even though the glaciers are too small to act as significant water reservoirs, WMO underlined their touristic and scientific importance.

Currently, their retreat rates are higher than the global average, and “total deglaciation” could be possible by the 2040s.

Mount Kenya is expected to be deglaciated a decade sooner, the agency added, which will make it one of the first entire mountain ranges to lose glacier cover due to human-induced climate change.

Millions at risk
The report is a collaboration between WMO, the African Union Commission, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) through the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), UN agencies, and international and regional scientific organizations.

It was issued during the extraordinary session of the WMO Congress currently underway online, and ahead of the COP26 UN climate change conference, which opens in Glasgow, Scotland, in less than two weeks.

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