COP27 Climate Change Conference — Urgent Action Needed for Africa and the World

COP27 Climate Change Conference — Urgent Action Needed for Africa and the World

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The climate crisis has had an impact on the environmental and social determinants of health across Africa, leading to devastating health effects.3 Impacts on health can result directly from environmental shocks and indirectly through socially mediated effects.4 Climate change–related risks in Africa include flooding, drought, heat waves, reduced food production, and reduced labor productivity.5

Droughts in sub-Saharan Africa have tripled between 1970–1979 and 2010–2019.6 In 2018, devastating cyclones impacted 2.2 million people in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.6 In West and Central Africa, severe flooding resulted in mortality and forced migration from loss of shelter, cultivated land, and livestock.7 Changes in vector ecology brought about by floods and damage to environmental hygiene have led to increases in diseases across sub-Saharan Africa, with rises in malaria, dengue fever, Lassa fever, Rift Valley fever, Lyme disease, Ebola virus, West Nile virus, and other infections.8,9 Rising sea levels reduce water quality, leading to waterborne diseases, including diarrheal diseases, a leading cause of mortality in Africa.8 Extreme weather damages water and food supply, increasing food insecurity and malnutrition, which causes 1.7 million deaths annually in Africa.10 According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, malnutrition has increased by almost 50% since 2012, owing to the central role agriculture plays in African economies.11 Environmental shocks and their knock-on effects also cause severe harm to mental health.12 In all, it is estimated that the climate crisis has destroyed a fifth of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the countries most vulnerable to climate shocks.13

The damage to Africa should be of supreme concern to all nations. This is partly for moral reasons. It is highly unjust that the most impacted nations have contributed the least to global cumulative emissions, which are driving the climate crisis and its increasingly severe effects. North America and Europe have contributed 62% of carbon dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution, whereas Africa has contributed only 3%.14

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Jorge Oliveira

https://www.linkedin.com/in/marketing-online-ireland/ https://muckrack.com/jorge_oliveira