UN climate report: Africa's rare glaciers to disappear within two decades

UN climate report: Africa's rare glaciers to disappear within two decades
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A new report from the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warns that Africa's rare glaciers will disappear within two decades.

The report released Tuesday warned that the current retreat rates of Africa’s glaciers — Mount Kenya, the Rwenori Mountains and Mount Kilimanjaro — are higher than the global average. If it continues, the mountains would be deglaciated by the 2040s.  

Mount Kenya is expected to be deglaciated a decade sooner, the report found, which would make it the first entire mountain range to lose glaciers because of human-induced climate change.

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The WMO made the findings in The State of the Climate in Africa 2020 report, which details how Africa is disproportionately vulnerable to the consequences of climate change.

The report was done in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) through the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), and other international and regional scientific organizations.

The WMO’s report stated that Africa is witnessing increasing weather and climate variability, which leads to disasters and disruption of economic and ecological systems. In 2020, the region saw continued warming temperatures, accelerated sea-level rise and climate events like floods and droughts.

By 2030, up to 118 million “extremely poor people,” those living on less than $1.90 per day, would be exposed to droughts, floods and extreme heat in Africa if adequate measures are not put in place, the report said.

The report further found that climate change could further lower gross domestic product in sub-Saharan Africa by up to 3 percent in 2050. 

Adaption costs in sub-Saharan African are estimated to be between $30 billion to $50 billion each year over the next decade to avoid even higher costs of additional disaster relief. 

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement that enhanced climate resilience is an “urgent and continuing need.”

“Investments are particularly needed in capacity development and technology transfer, as well as in enhancing countries’ early warning systems, including weather, water and climate observing systems,” Taalas continued.