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Climate change in Africa

Climate change in africa

By Camilla Toulmin
Published by Zed Books
Website: www.zedbooks.co.uk
2009, 172pp, ISBN 978 1 84813 015 9(Pb), £12.99

Africa has contributed very little to global warming. But reliance on agriculture, land and natural resources, as well as high levels of poverty and poor governance has made Africa particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. At the same time, "the interests and perspectives of African nations and their peoples are rarely taken into account when global leaders get around the table," observes Camilla Toulmin, which is of particular concern in the run up to the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen.

Climate change in Africa begins by outlining what scientists are predicting the impacts of climate change will be. Using case studies, the book analyses how global warming will affect water availability, food systems, forests, cities and conflict and addresses what Africa might lose or gain from a low-carbon economy. Finally, Toulmin looks towards the future challenges posed by climate change and the scale of the response required.

Toulmin argues that African leaders need to play a larger role in the Copenhagen negotiations in order to design a post-Kyoto agreement that meets the development needs of ordinary African people. But when it comes to income from reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) for example, Toulmin states that the gains will only be achieved if the rights of local people to forest resources are clarified and enforced, and the earnings distributed fairly. Therefore African governments will also need to recognise and support the rights of their citizens to manage and control the land, water, and forests that they depend on.

Succinct and accessible, Climate change in Africa clearly tackles the science, politics and policies involved and points to the actions that the world must take to confront climate change. "We face a clear and simple choice," Toulmin says. "Will we design a world that preserves the way of life of the rich, or address the urgent needs of the poor? The choice is ours."

Date published: November 2009


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