05/17/2007versione stampabileprintinvia paginasend

The Pan-African Parliament asks the West to intervene on global warming
With a surprise move, last Monday the Parliament of the African Union asked the western world to intervene to resolve the question of global warming. Even though the West is the biggest producer of greenhouse gases (G8 countries emit 50 per cent, USA alone 25 per cent and Africa 5 per cent, according to a recent UN study), paradoxically Africa will be the worst affected by the problem. A problem which, if not resolved, could devastate the continent with droughts, floods and disease.

Scenario. According to a report by Nicholas Stern, British economist and ex-vice president of the World Bank, the effects of global warming in the 21st century could bring about an economic recession of 20 per cent: the raising of sea levels, the desertification of some areas and the flooding of others will cause hundreds of millions of “climate refugees”. 40 per cent of animal and vegetable species risk extinction due to warming which, in some parts of the planet, could reach 5.8 degrees centigrade. An apocalyptical scenario which, the experts say, should hit Africa in particular, because of the continent’s reliance on agriculture and the lack of authorities and structures capable of dealing with the problem. For this reason, the African Union has asked western countries to intervene, even if the planet’s worst polluters have so far given replies that bring little comfort: according to a report published by some British agencies, including Oxfam and the New Economic Foundation, from 10 to 40 billion dollars are needed to deal with the problem, whereas the world’s most industrialised countries have so far given only 43 million.

Inondazioni in MozambicoAfrica. “The worrying thing is that, according to all the models developed by computers which carry out estimates of global warming, Africa will be the zone worst affected by the phenomenon, whereas for the other areas of the planet the projections are much less certain”, William Bond, professor at the faculty of Botany at University of Cape Town in South Africa told PeaceReporter. In particular, projections show that the Sahel region and southern Africa are becoming more arid, which will bring about a collapse in agriculture and new conflicts for control of the ever-scarcer water resources: these are the origins of the conflict in Darfur (which in four years has led to the death of at least 200,000 people), a sinister omen of the circumstances the continent may expect. In tropical Africa, on the other hand, a consistent increase in rainfall is predicted, which would aggravate the spreading of insect-borne diseases, such as malaria or dengue fever. According to a report by the organisation Christian Aid, by the end of the century the number of deaths from climate change-connected diseases in sub-Sahara Africa could reach 182 million. “The situation in the continent is very delicate – confirms Coleen Vogel, expert in climatology at the South African university of Witwatersrand to PeaceReporter. – India or Bangladesh could also have to deal with the same climate scenario, but in Africa there are also problems such as conflicts or lack of state authorities which are able to deal with such questions”.

Future. Both the experts refrain, however, from accusing the West. “It’s too easy to point the finger at others, we must look and see what Africa is doing to prepare itself – says Bond –. And if, on the one hand, the governments have to tackle pressing problems, on the other hand, they are influenced by the attempt to develop a new approach, which has brought the continent’s authorities to collaborate more closely than many western countries. The current development projects are more and more influenced by environmental concerns”. Vogel, too, is on the same wavelength, adding that “the adaptation to current problems is the best short-term solution: it is essential that we improve the capacity to deal with emergencies such as drought or flooding, even if these issues cannot be separated from economic development”.
Matteo Fagotto