The first installment of the IPCC’s fifth assessment report shows that the planet is heating up, sea level rise has accelerated, the rate of Arctic sea ice retreat has doubled, the melting of glaciers and ice sheets is happening faster, and the oceans are acidifying. It paints a shocking picture of how the planet will continue changing if carbon pollution continues to grow unabated.
One of the most significant steps forward in the IPCC’s first assessment report in five years is the amount of new information about how climate change will impact regions around the world. For West Africa, the projections are particularly grim with more difficult and expensive water and wastewater management due to decreased water supply reliability and higher flood risk, decreased agricultural yields due to prolonged droughts and more flooding events that threaten food security. Furthermore, sea level rise will cause increased salinization and reduced freshwater availability along coasts. Losses of 5-10% of gross domestic product (GDP) due to sea-level rise with adaptation; losses up to 14% GDP without adaptation will happen all the same
“This report shows that the science on climate change is clear. The debate about who is responsible is over. All that matters now is what the government chooses to do with this report that bears their signature,” –Emmanuel SECK, CAN WA Coordinator based at-Enda Energie Environment Development said.
“We cannot afford for another report on the climate change threats we face, to sit and gather dust while impacts continue to mount in the real world.”
The IPCC report shows that by beginning to reduce carbon pollution right now, it remains possible to keep warming to the internationally agreed threshold of 2°C. If warming is allowed to go beyond 2°C, climate change will become much more unpredictable, meaning it will be more difficult to adapt to its impacts, and many more people will be affected.
Representatives of the world’s governments will be in Warsaw in November for the major climate negotiations of the year. It would behoove them to make sure this report is in their luggage and informs their negotiating positions.
CAN West Africa is a node of Climate Action Network (CAN) which is a global network of over 850 NGOs working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.