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Climate Change Could Force More Than 30 Million Africans to Move

West Africa
Rising sea levels pose a threat to the coasts of Senegal. Credit: Remi Jouan, CC BY 3.0

A new report published last Monday found that more than 30 million people living in West Africa may have to leave their homes due to the effects of climate change.

The Groundswell West Africa report details how millions of lives will be impacted in Africa due to rising sea levels and other extreme weather events affecting the continent due to climate change.

The report found that up to 32 million people could be forced to move to other parts of the region by 2050 if adequate action isn’t taken to combat climate change. People may begin being forced out by 2030.

Although Sub-Saharan Africa contributes the least globally to carbon emissions, the people who live there are bearing the brunt of these actions. Although the report projects the most extreme consequences to take place ten to thirty years in the future, the effects of climate change have already arrived on the continent. Temperatures are rising 1.5 times faster than the worldwide average in some areas.

Water scarcity has already started affecting crop productivity and causing people to seek out new areas for farming. Droughts and erosion of the landscape have put the livelihood of those working in agriculture in jeopardy, as well as the population at large.

Climate change is one of Africa’s biggest issues

Cities on the coasts of Senegal and Nigeria face impending rises in sea levels, which could cause the region’s most central cities to be massively impacted.

The report calls for international assistance, stating that “immediate and concerted action to reduce global emissions and support green, inclusive, and resilient development could reduce the scale of climate migration by as much as 60% in West Africa.”

The World Bank’s most recent Africa’s Pulse report says that Sub-Saharan Africa would need roughly $30 billion to $50 billion annually throughout the course of the decade to afford the climate adaptation necessary for the problems it’s facing.

Greenhouse gas emissions reached record highs in 2020

The report comes amongst harrowing news about our planet’s Greenhouse gas levels.

The United Nation’s weather agency, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said in its annual report on Monday that greenhouse gas levels in the planet’s atmosphere reached a record high in 2020.

The WMO’s report showed that carbon dioxide levels peaked at 413.2 parts per million in 2020, building at a much higher pace than the yearly average for the past decade, despite a small lull during the beginning of the pandemic’s lockdowns.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – the gases that contribute the most significantly to global warming while also causing catastrophic weather events – were all far above amounts found in the pre-industrial era before 1750, when humans  “started disrupting Earth’s natural equilibrium,” according to the agency.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas cautioned that the pace at which heat-trapping gases are increasing would lead to elevations in temperature “far in excess” of 1.5C (2.7F) – which is the standard decided on in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.


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