Mitigate climate change and its consequences in Africa

Every year since 2008 there has been an average of 21.8 million people displaced as a result of climate change, with the majority of these people coming from developing countries.

Key Facts:

  • 21.8 million: the number of people displaced annually by climate change
  • 100 million: the number of people expected to be forced back into poverty as result of climate change, by 2030 (mostly in Africa)
  • 1.6 billion: the number of people who may be forced to leave their homes by 2060 as a result of climate change

It is one of the great injustices of climate change that those who are least responsible for it are the ones most who are most affected by it. This isn’t a value judgement, but a statement of fact. The developed western world has produced the vast majority of the carbon emissions that are the root cause of global warming, yet it is the developing nations that are feeling the effects. There is an awareness of western culpability in this process, but not necessarily an adequate sense of the urgency of the situation.

Every year since 2008 there has been an average of 21.8 million people displaced as a result of climate change, with the majority of these people coming from developing countries. With the effects of climate change being further exacerbated, we can expect this number to continue to rise. This forced migration is resulting in millions of ‘climate refugees’, many of whom in the future will be compelled to leave the developing nations for the developed world. This mass migration around the globe will become not just a humanitarian crisis, but an issue of national security and social stability. If we don’t address the issue there may be as many as 1.6 billion people displaced from their homes by 2060.

We need to look ways to mitigate climate change, both on a global level and on a more localised level. Globally we need to adhere to the tenets of the Paris Agreement, reduce the amount of CO2 emissions and keep under the allocated 2 degree rise in global temperature. Locally, we need to look at ways to mitigate the effects of climate change in affected areas to help stem the onset of mass migration.

Provide better infrastructure to mitigate the effects of climate change

Africa is one of the areas that is being most affected by climate change. There has been an increase in the number of severe droughts experienced in East Africa in the past decade, with evidence indicating that climate change has increased the probability of failure of rains. The droughts have lead to huge number of people — 24 million — facing food security. West Africa has also been impacted by the effects of drought-related climate change. In one area Germany are helping by sponsoring a West African research consortium to help tackle the effects of climate change on the land.

If we can provide better infrastructure for the areas most at risk from climate change by supplying renewable energy resources, clean water and education then we can enable these populations to better adapt to the effects of climate change and avoid leaving their homes. Mitigating climate change with these tools and methods will go a long way. One huge project that is aiming to mitigate the effects of climate change in the Sahel region of Africa is the Great Green Wall. The goal is to plant trees across the whole 8,000km width of the continent, providing food and jobs for those that are living on the edge of climate change.

If we want to help people avoid the need to migrate from developing countries, then we need to mitigate the effects of climate change on their home soil. If we don’t do this, then the stability of the whole world will be put at stake.


Further Reading: Related Start Ups and Organizations


This series of articles has been prepared with the support of our partner Viessmann — they’re celebrating 100 years of their company this year (2017) and are actively involved in positively shaping the next 100 years.