Africa and Climate Change: Projecting Vulnerability and Adaptive capacity

Human activities have warmed the climate 1°C above pre-industrial levels, triggering fundamental changes in the earth’s physical and social landscapes. Africa has contributed little to climate change, but is home to some of the world’s harshest climates and most vulnerable populations. To navigate the risks climate change poses to Africans over the coming decades, governments must prioritise human development and harmonise economic development with climate change adaptation strategies. This report reviews the observed and projected impacts of climate change on Africa. It explores Africa’s current development trajectory (Current Path) to 2063 and what it means for vulnerability and adaptive capacity on the continent. The Current Path is then compared to an alternative scenario, the first Shared Socioeconomic Pathway (SSP 1), titled ‘Sustainability – Taking the Green Road’ (Green Road). In this scenario, Africa (and the rest of the world) undertakes rapid, sustainable economic growth, resulting in low barriers to adapting to and mitigating climate change. It concludes with recommendations for how Africa can progress more quickly towards Agenda 2063’s climate change aspirations by addressing immediate vulnerabilities to climate change and increasing adaptive capacity over the long term. Because further warming and increasingly severe climate events are unavoidable for at least the next few decades, this report focuses on Africa’s vulnerability to climate change, its capacity to adapt and how this will change to 2063. To do this, it projects three proxies for vulnerability and levels of development: extreme poverty, government revenue as a per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and access to improved water.