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The Cost to Africa: drastic economic damage from climate change

9 November 2022

Summary

African countries are set to lose out on realising potential economic growth due to the growing impacts of climate change across the continent. As a continent, Africa accounts for a negligible proportion of global historic carbon emissions; yet to develop many of its people need to consume more energy as they increase their income and overcome poverty. Yet this will happen too slowly for many and not at all for some as climate change directly affects lives and livelihoods, including by reducing the economic growth of countries across the continent in years and decades to come. This report highlights the major economic impacts of climate change on 50 of the 54 countries across Africa, covering over 99 per cent of the continent’s economy. Our data analysis uses an internationally recognised methodology to assess how far different levels of global warming are likely to reduce economic growth rates of countries (see Appendix 2 for more details). The shocking estimates reveal that all of these low and lower-middle income countries face massive cuts to their economic growth rates because of climate change in the years and decades to come. These growth rates are already under huge short-term pressure due to the impacts of Covid, deepening debt crises, rising dollar interest rates and austerity becoming a condition of more donor funding, including more loans. Even if governments across the world live up to the commitment made in 2015 at the Paris COP23 to limit global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the average hit to GDP per capita across African countries will be 14% up to 2050, growing to 34% by the end of the century. But even these substantial reductions are dwarfed by the impact of current climate policies – which are likely to see global heating reach average temperatures around 2.7C higher than pre-industrial times – which would lead to a 20% reduction in economic growth rates by 2050 and a huge 64% on average by 2100.

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africa climate economic impact

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