Mitigating causes and impacts of climate variability and air pollution

Policy interventions are necessary:

  • In the short term, to reduce the effect and impact of extreme climate changes on lives, livelihoods and infrastructure.
  • In the medium term, to reduce emissions and pollutant concentration in the atmosphere, whilst at the same time limiting the release of more emissions and pollutants into the air.
  • In the long term, to adapt to climate variability and change.

Globally, mitigation measures have primarily targeted reducing pollutants and ozone depleting substances as well as stabilizing GHG concentrations in the atmosphere through increased sinks and reduced emissions. Programme Area 5 of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Environment Action Plan (NEPAD-EAP) specifically focuses on combating climate change in Africa. These global and regional responses may help reduce the frequency and severity of floods, drought and heat waves; the loss of snowcaps; and sea-level rise. This will have positive implications for livelihoods and human well-being. Additionally, mitigating climate change and air pollution interventions offer business opportunities that contribute to job creation, poverty reduction and other NEPAD objectives.

Early warning systems

Given the failure to reduce emissions significantly, extreme weather events are predicted to occur with increasing frequency and severity. Investing in capacity for early warning systems will reduce both direct and secondary impacts of such events. Forewarned is forearmed: people will be able to accumulate food reserves, reinforce shelter or move to safer ground. Information and capacity-building lie at the heart of developing effective response systems. The ability to respond effectively is also affected by available resources, such as transport, to leave a threatened area. Poverty may prevent many communities from taking proactive measures, even if they are forewarned. Public support and international partnerships are critical for effective response systems.

Africa should invest in research to be able to develop, construct, deploy and use early warning systems. Community-based traditional warning systems should be researched and, where viable, developed and deployed. Early warning requires regionally and internationally linked systems, where spatial and temporal data from numerous observation points are brought together for analysis. International cooperation is therefore essential in developing effective early warning systems. Investing in the production of early warning systems will contribute to wealth creation and achievement of NEPAD objectives.