Transregional Comparative Lessons in Pursuit of Sustainable Development
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Werner Scholtz and Jonathan Verschuuren
Chapter 3: Africa and climate change: legal perspectives from the AU
Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to the consequences of climate change. It is particularly sub-Saharan Africa which faces a number of climate-related challenges. Climate variability and change will have a significant effect on the following: access to and demand for water, the agricultural sector, the use of energy, the health sector, coastal zones, tourism, settlements and infrastructure, as well as aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Although Africa is greatly endangered by the impacts of climate change, it has played an insignificant role in causing the problem. Furthermore, African countries are among the poorest of the developing countries. Poverty, weak governance and insufficient adaptation capacity exacerbate the effects of climate change. Ultimately, climate change may hamper the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the sustainable development of African states. The need to respond to the impacts of climate change is therefore urgent as the climate-related impacts are starting to materialise more rapidly than ever before. The pursuit of adaptive capacity and adaption thus emerge as major concerns for consideration on the continent. Individual African states, however, lack the capacity to respond to the challenges that climate change pose. Hence, the African Union (AU) as a regional organisation has initiated actions to respond to this dismal challenge. It is therefore the main aim of this chapter to analyse the manner in which the AU has responded to climate change.
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