Invest in nature to combat climate change

Preserving nature is important in the fight against climate change. Image credit: Hu Chen from Unsplash

Invest in nature to combat climate change

Investing in nature is one of the most immediate, powerful, and cost-effective solutions to the climate crisis ad shaping our future.

According to WWF South Africa CEO Dr Morné du Plessis individual action can be important, but without more ambition and faster implementation from national and international policy we will miss this last chance to limit climate change to 1.5°C.

“This means that the most important thing that people and businesses can do right now is to work together to raise public awareness, and to hold the private and public sector accountable for fulfilling their commitments,” says Du Plessis.

On Monday 28 February, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report on climate change. The report’s key message was that strengthening nature is key to securing a live-able future for humanity. We not only have to adapt rapidly but also need to urgently make deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. The more the world heats up, the fewer options we will have in the future.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said during the launch of the IPCC report: “I know people everywhere are anxious and angry. I am, too. Now is the time to turn rage into action. Every fraction of a degree matters. Every voice can make a difference. And every second counts.”

HOW CLIMATE CHANGE IS IMPACTING AFRICA

Source: “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” (IPCC Working Group II report )

 Africa has contributed among the least to greenhouse gas emissions, yet key development sectors have already experienced widespread losses and damages attributable to climate change, including biodiversity loss, water shortages, reduced food production, loss of lives and reduced economic growth.

  • Limiting global warming to 1.5°C is expected to substantially reduce damages to African economies, agriculture, human health, and ecosystems compared to higher levels of global warming
  • In Africa, agricultural productivity growth has been reduced by 34% since 1961 due to climate change, more than any other region. Future warming will negatively affect food systems in Africa by shortening growing seasons and increasing water stress.
  • Global warming above 2°C will result in multiple breadbasket failures with expected yield reductions for staple crops across most of Africa compared to 2005 yields.
  • Under 1.7°C warming (which will be reached before 2050 at current rates) global, reduced fish harvests could leave 1.2–70 million people in Africa vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies.
  • Exposure of people, assets and infrastructure to climate hazards is increasing in Africa compounded by rapid urbanisation, infrastructure deficit, and growing population in informal settlements.
  • By 2030, 108–116 million people will be exposed to sea level rise in Africa (compared to 54 million in 2000), increasing to 190–245 million by 2060.
  • Under relatively low population growth scenarios, the sensitive population (people under 5 or over 64 years old) exposed to heat waves of at least 15 days above 42°C in African cities is projected to increase from around 27 million in 2010 to 360 million by 2100 for 1.8°C global warming and 440 million for >4°C global warming.
  • Climate change has reduced economic growth across Africa, increasing income inequality between African countries and those in temperate, Northern Hemisphere climates.
  • African cultural heritage is already at risk from climate hazards, including sea level rise and coastal erosion and most African heritage sites are neither prepared for, nor adapted to, future climate change.

Between 8:30 and 9:30 on 26 March 2022 South African will have the opportunity to join the global community during Earth Hour in celebrating the role nature plays in our lives and the vital role it has when it comes to coping with climate change.

The planet’s natural systems are vital for all our futures, and yet, the rate of global loss of nature during the past 50 years is unprecedented in human history. Nature not only provides us with food, water, clean air, and other services, it is also one of our strongest allies against climate change.

Earth Hour aims to increase awareness and spark global conversations about combating the climate crisis.  

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