Ethiopia is widely regarded as an African success story when it comes to economic growth. According to the International Monetary Fund, the country’s economy is growing by seven percent annually. But there are concerns that climate change could jeopardise this growth.
At a recent meeting at the United Nations conference centre in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, the world’s foremost climate change experts sent a clear message: the impacts of global warming, rising surface temperatures and extreme weather will be felt as acutely in Africa as anywhere in the world.
For the last 18 months, more than 800 climate scientists have been compiling the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report, which is being released in four parts until November, is according to the IPCC the most comprehensive, authoritative, objective assessment ever produced on the way climate change is affecting our planet.
Its findings are unequivocal – climate change is real and there is more evidence than ever before that it is being driven by human activity.
In Ethiopia, the IPCC says, climate change will inevitably have an impact on people’s lives. Dr Katie Mach, a climate scientist at Stanford University and lead author on the AR5, gave a stark assessment of the impacts climate change could have on Africa’s second-most populous country.
“[Climate change] will increase risk associated with extremes, such as extreme heat, heavy rain and drought. It will also make poverty reduction more difficult and decrease food security,” she told IPS.
The IPCC says the economic impacts of climate change will be most severe in developing countries. This is because the economies of poorer nations are less able to adapt to changes affecting industry and jobs.
Many of Ethiopia’s 90 million people are still reliant on agriculture to earn a living. The country has an estimated 70 million smallholder farmers, many of whom only grow sufficient amounts of crops like the staples of grain and coffee to support their families.
It is these smallholder farmers who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, particularly if temperatures rise sufficiently to damage crops like coffee.
“Coffee’s worth about 800 million dollars at the moment and under the government’s plan for economic growth it’s set to grow to 1.6 billion dollars by 2025,” Adam Ward, acting country representative for the Global Green Growth Institute, an intergovernmental organisation that works as a partner with Ethiopia’s government on its Climate Resilient Green Economy strategy, told IPS.
The government of Ethiopia created a Climate Resilient Green Fund, which has already leveraged 25 million dollars from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), as well as 10 million dollars from Norway.
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