Three institutions team up to quantify climate impact on Africa’s economic growth

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 12 December 2014 (ACPC) - For long, the narrative has consisted in affirming Africa’s extreme vulnerability to the impacts climate change, especially how it affects its economies more than those of other regions. Whereas numerous studies already exist on how the phenomenon affects development sectors such as agriculture, energy, water resources, transport, not many of them have focused on how the region’s economic growth will be affected by climate change.
Now the Economic Commission for Africa’s African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have taken the bold step to quantify the cost of climate impacts on Africa’s economic growth for policy application.
Commending the joint research project, Ms. Fatima Denton, Director of the Special Initiatives Division and Coordinator of ACPC, says that policy analysis on climate change stand to gain from the academic and professional partnership because of the unique qualities of each of the partner institutions.
“Both UNEP and AfDB have done a lot of interesting work on field research and ACPC stands in a good position to infuse some of those research results into policy formulation”, she explains, urging experts from ACPC to ensure an accelerated completion of the research paper.
The premise of the study is that, although much of the potentially devastating effects of climate change could be reduced through regional and local level adaptation strategies and interventions, the residual damages will still be significant, says Johnson Nkem, Senior Climate Adaptation Expert at ECA and member of the research team.
The study will focus on the effects of climate change on economic growth, taking a broad view on effects of phenomenon on multi-dimensional circles of poverty; while considering current adaptation measures on reducing impacts of climate change on economic growth and potential opportunities.
In order to arrive at dependable policy pointers, the study has established two important pathways (revenue and expenditure) for examining climate change impacts on the economic growth of Africa,  and will seek to answer such key questions as: how will climate variability and climate change affect short-term GDP forecasts (up to 20-30 years); what will be the outlook for the medium (30-50 years) and long term (> 50 years), for different economic sectors, under different socioeconomic and demographic scenarios?
It will further explore whether or not statistical relations between other development indicators such as assessments of indicators of multidimensional poverty for example income poverty, food security and/or employment could be derived and, if so, is climate change projected to increase the percentage of people pushed back below the current poverty line?
Another area for investigation by the study is how climate change will affect current efforts to eradicate poverty in Africa under different socioeconomic and demographic scenarios and for different time horizons (short, mid and long term).
Given the heightened risk for Africa in the event of a 4°C global warming scenario, the study is also interested in looking at how severe the impacts of climate change on economic growth would be under a 4°C scenario compared to a 2o, or 1.5°C scenario and at different time horizons (short, mid and long term) and socioeconomic pathways.
Finally, the study will investigate what would be the expected benefits of investments in climate change adaptation in reducing adverse effects on economic growth under the projected emission scenarios? Can adaptation measures contribute to maintain GDP growth rates projected without further climate change?
The study will further test the assumption that there are economic growth opportunities in deploying adaptation and mitigation measures under the different projected climate scenarios and the different sectors.
As Africa’s priority for climate change response, the primary focus of this study is adaptation. Nevertheless, it is fully recognised that there are emerging opportunities for GDP growth in Africa through mitigation activities such as REDD+, NAMA, among others, whose cost-benefit analysis for Africa will be highly informative for economic policies on land use and land use change.